This is quite a long review, and I’ll try to be as balanced as possible to make sure that other people can make a more informed decision than we were able to make. If you don’t want to read on, then it can be summarised like this: if you want to feel like you’re getting value for money, and if you want to feel like there’s good will from the resort owners, perhaps stay elsewhere.
We were travelling as a honeymoon couple, and we met two other honeymoon couples there, along with several others pairs of friends- many aspects of this review were the same as experienced by the others we met at Waidroka during our stay.
We were there primarily to surf, but also dive a couple of times, relax, eat fresh local food and feel like we were having an experience that was particularly special. Consequently, we booked an ‘all inclusive’ package. However, by the time you consider not-included activities and extras, you can expect to be paying about $350USD per night for a couple.
I will address each of these points below.
The way the surfing was advertised, run and guided was the biggest disappointment. So, each point below is graded based on our experience out of five with an explanation. I would expect a surf resort to:
a.) Advertise accurately the levels of waves that can be expected (0/5). One spot listed as ‘all levels’ (even by the in-room brochure), certainly did not suit the beginners. In fact, no spots near Waidroka suit beginners, the lowest level would be intermediate.
b.) Explain the process for choosing a location each day (2/5).
c.) Take into account the levels of all surfers (1/5). To address (b) and (c)-although there is a board stating where the surf will be the following day, very little (if any) discussion is entered into with the guests.
d.) Leave at first light to catch the morning tides if applicable (2/5). We were somewhat unlucky with weather, and so we had to get out there before the wind, which meant leaving no later than first light (6am). However, we kept getting told that it wasn’t possible to leave before 7am.
e.) Fully brief the guests on all aspects of each spot (1/5). Ironically, the best brief we had was from a scuba diver, who explained the currents and shallow spots. Generally the rest was up to us to figure out.
f.) When in the water, monitor closely and be prepared to assist (2/5). A surf guide is a safety officer primarily, and should always be in a position to assist a guest. Again, only a scuba diver (who does not surf) provided a safety brief.
g.) Have a preference for guests catching waves and to enable this as much as possible in the water (2/5). When obvious and appropriate, I would expect a surf guide to provide some degree of tuition or demonstration to the guests (particularly beginners) as to the best spot to sit to get waves and any techniques that might be pertinent to that particular spot.
Each of these points was addressed early in our stay, and to get a suitable resolution took significant intervention by the guests. Of course we understand that the resort cannot change the weather or available reefs, but prior to booking, the guests should be able to make a more informed decision (because the advice we received from our initial enquiries was both wrong and misleading). So I have given you this advice below:
a.) Although we were there in an optimal season, the winds were that which you might expect in November (ESE trade-winds, 15 to 20kts). This might be bad luck or according to local opinion, something else. For the right-handed breaks, you need between a westerly and a northerly wind. The left-handers need between North to East wind. Anything south is basically onshore everywhere.
b.) All of the breaks nearby require surfing within 2 hours of high tide, despite other information being given to us by the resort. The ideal high tide would be 6.30am, so you can avoid the wind (which starts about 9.30am) and have a chance at a late afternoon session too.
c.) To get the perfect swell for intermediate (4 to 6ft) requires very good luck.
To demonstrate how off-the-mark the surf guiding was, the surf guide planned to surf at Frigates and took 3 guests. Once there, it became evident that the guests did not feel comfortable entering the water due to the size and heaviness of the break. Instead of listening to the customers and modifying the trip by checking other surf breaks (which definitely had other waves), the guide jumped in the water and surfed on his own. The three Waidroka guests were left to watch from the boat.
As for the ‘all inclusive’ package, it did not include surfing- in fact to our surprise, it was $75FJD per person, per boat trip - regardless of the length of the trip or if you actually entered the water or not.
DIVING AND SNORKELLING
The diving instructors were fantastic and probably the best we have ever dived with. They were personable, well informed, interested and on the dives were aware of safety and providing the best experience for us (including a world famous shark dive). They were highly professional and appeared to thoroughly enjoy sharing their love of diving.
However, the gear for hire included ripped wetsuits, old and mouldy snorkels/goggles, and nearly worn out regulators. There were no dive computers. As for the ‘all inclusive’ package, this did not include any diving or use of the equipment- everything had to be paid for on top of the ‘all inclusive’ fee.
In Fiji there is an abundance of fresh local fruits and vegetables. These are readily available and very cheap (e.g. $1FJD for a bunch of bananas) at any local market. Despite this, Waidroka insisted that these were not available and so presented us with deep fried foods, simple carbohydrate-rich foods (e.g. processed pasta) with little or no vegetables. Although we requested more local produce, even if cooked simply, we continued to be given unhealthy meal options.
According to the internet description we paid for an ‘all inclusive’ package which was supposed to include all meals. However only one menu item was allowed at each meal (often small and deep-fried), and there were no in-between snacks, until very late in our stay when a tray of bananas and imported apples were available (after a guest’s request). There were no fridges in the rooms, it was not possible to store food you brought with you or would like to buy from the town (15km away).
Waidroka is a picturesque setting and it has lots of potential.
Again, given the price of the stay we would have expected better maintained rooms, a better mattress, better quality sheets and pillows (which smelled old), newer mosquito nets that were aired out, cleaner common areas and a feeling that we were getting what we paid for. My gut feeling is that the resort owner is milking this place dry (and taking advantage of the staff) and has not put much back into the resort over the last 10 years.
Have a look at Matanivusi Resort or the west side of Viti Levu.
p.s. the boards that people have “donated” to locals, don’t seem to end up with locals, if you catch my drift.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Where tropical rainforest meets the Pacific Ocean nestles a tranquil Boutique Resort, offering an absolute adventure into Fiji's culture combined with worldclass SURFING - DIVING - FISHING and everything else the ocean has to offer. The perfect combination of pure relaxation and exhilarating action, Waidroka Bay Resort offers mind-blowing Surfing at Frigates Passage and many other breaks like famous Pipe or Serua Rights, world class Diving at the famous Bega Lagoon & Reef, as well as shark diving, Game- & Sport Fishing, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Rainforest-Trekking and all that is expected of a Fijian oceanfront adventurer paradise. Famous Fijian hospitality and smiles, a variety of beautiful accommodation, great food, stunning views, exhilarating activities on the highest level and a dream location conveniently located on the main island, Viti Levu, only 2 hours distance from the airport and 20 minutes away from the 'Adventure Capital' of Pacific Harbour - yet totally secluded in the midst of the rainforest on our own private Lagoon. Waidroka Bay Resort is a true haven for those seeking a home away from home combined with an intimate and private boutique experience and atmosphere. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Waidroka Bay Hotel Korovisilou
- Waidroka Bay Surf Dive Hotel
- Waidroka Bay Surf Dive Resort
- Waidroka Bay Resort Fiji/Viti Levu