Fiji: Stopover serenity

By Michael Dickison

Michael Dickison interrupts a long flight with a mini-break in Fiji.

Intercontinental Hotel at Fiji's Natadola Bay. Photo / Supplied
Intercontinental Hotel at Fiji's Natadola Bay. Photo / Supplied

At a top-end resort it's possible to enjoy Fiji without ever touching saltwater.

The five-star Intercontinental has transformed Natadola Bay, stretching from manicured lawns at the beach to designer vegetation near the road.

It's set in a notoriously windy bay where the waves are strong and rough. But from the seaside rooms' baths on their balconies you can gaze at the Pacific and listen to it crash on the sand.

From the resort's infinity pool you look over the beach, with a bar and restaurant behind you.

The 2-year-old resort is spotless with paths cutting between clusters of rooms and other amenities. Among its other bars and restaurants is the fine dining Navo, which has a chocolate after-dinner mint that comes as a shot - well worth trying.

At the resort's spa, I had my first facial - and I wondered about all the goo being rubbed on. It felt nice, whatever it was, and I left almost dizzy from relaxation.

The spa also features a "bitu" massage with bamboo sticks, which is said to ease skin, muscles and joints.

The resort is about 40 minutes from Nadi airport and handy to the ferries at Denarau. Day tours on the boats can get you into salt water for snorkelling and to villages on small islands.

You see private islands, which have been rented out by film crews and millionaires, alongside Yanuya Island, where you get a village tour. You see slow village life, with chickens pecking at the dirt, villagers fanning themselves in the shade and children playing.

We were welcomed by the young village chief in a short ceremony, then offered kava, which is said to cause mild euphoria and numbness.

Back on the ferry, there were endless drinks and barbecued meat. We jumped in the water to snorkel, while around me small children floated facedown to study the fish.

Next day I flew to Auckland - the visit to Fiji was a stopover from Los Angeles, a relaxing way to break up the long flight.

CHECKLIST

Getting there: Air Pacific has flights from Auckland to Nadi, which can also serve as stopovers to Los Angeles.
What to do: South Sea Cruises' Seaspray offers a full day on a 25m schooner exploring the beaches and lagoons of the Mamanuca Islands from $168. The price includes morning and afternoon tea, buffet lunch and drinks. Departs daily from Denarau with pick-ups from coastal hotels.

Michael Dickison travelled to Fiji courtesy of Air Pacific.

- NZ Herald

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