Fiji: Tea time in paradise

As balls skip across rock pools, Faith Lee resolves to master a spot of reef golf in Fiji.

One of the ocean-front bures on Toberua Island. Photo / Supplied
One of the ocean-front bures on Toberua Island. Photo / Supplied

It was my turn. So I hitched up my soggy togs and strode up to the tee, a golf club gripped tightly in my hand.

"Come on, Vakabauta," shouted my Fijian golf partners. Vakabauta is Fijian for Faith, which is my name.

I scrunched my feet into the sand and stared out across the rock pools to the first hole.

The sun was beating down on my back. I wiped a bead of sweat from my brow and then gave the ball a mighty heave.

Off a rock, through a puddle and hopefully not damaging any starfish on the way, my ball soared into the distance. Yee ha! Off we go.

This was reef golf in Toberua Island Resort-style - and it would have to have been the most striking course I had seen.

The resort comprises 1.6ha of lush tropical gardens surrounded by clear aqua sea, and as the tide goes out, the golfers come out to play.

Found just off the eastern side of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, it is a scenic 40-minute trip from Nausori Airport in Suva to Toberua. And for such a small paradise there is so much to do.

If you enjoy fishing then you have the chance to catch yellowfin tuna, wahoo, spanish mackerel and giant trevally - I have to admit all I caught was a magnificent piece of coral. However, others were luckier. I probably should have stuck to the golf.

The Toberua Passage is within minutes of the island, offering varied dive sites from coral heads to 18m walls and crevasses suitable for novice and experienced divers. Its colourful coral, fish and shells make for excellent underwater photography.

Toberua has its own resident PADI dive instructor and offers a full range of courses from introductory dives through to dive master qualifications.

But if all that is too strenuous you can soak up the sun, relax in your ocean-front bure, have a soothing spa treatment and, of course, eat. Oh, the food. The chefs prepare a selection of tantalising three-course lunches and four-course dinners inspired by Fijian cuisine, and seasoned with local and international flavours.

These include mouth-watering appetisers of kokoda (marinated raw fish with coconut cream and lemon juice), cream of pawpaw soup and Thai red fish curry.

Toberua leaves such an impression on people that one Gold Coast couple has come back 30 times since their first trip in 1984.

"We had such a wonderful first holiday we kept repeating it, and now it always feels like we are visiting family," they said.

Their son was married on the island last year and both their daughters spent their honeymoons at the resort.

I, too, will be going back, and I might even take my boyfriend this time - even though he's a better golfer than me.

CHECKLIST

Getting there: Air Pacific flies daily from Auckland to Nadi (from $588 return) and once a week from Auckland to Suva (from $782 return). Ring 0800 800 178.

Where to stay: Toberua Island Resort offers luxury accommodation at prices ranging from $390-$601 per bure per night. Groups of 30 can hire the whole island for $6000 per night, based on a five-night stay.

"Vakabauta" aka Faith travelled courtesy of Toberua Island Resort and Pacific Sun.

- NZ Herald

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