Staying at the the Manatray Island Resort, Yasawa Islands, Fiji

By Michael Brown

Michael Brown checks into Mantaray Island Resort, in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji.
Mantaray Island Resort, Fiji, is a great spot for family activities in the water.
Mantaray Island Resort, Fiji, is a great spot for family activities in the water.

Getting there: A three-and-a-half hour ferry ride or 25-minute sea plane journey from Denarau.

Check in experience: It started with the melodic song from the staff on the beach - the ditty ended with the obligatory "bula" - as we transferred from the ferry to the beach via a large dinghy and ended with the short walk to our delightful beachfront villa. In between was a rundown to all the new guests about what to expect, from eating times and menus to activities and highlights.

Room: We stayed in a beachfront villa - Mantaray Island Resort's most exclusive accommodation. Not only did it look out over the beautiful beach but it also had a very cool outdoor bathroom where the myna birds can check you out in the buff as you shower (fortunately other guests can't do the same).

Mantaray Island Resort offers a range of accommodation, more on the budget side, from dorm rooms, tree house bures and jungle bures through to the beachfront villas. They can accommodate about 60 guests at full capacity.

The beachfront villas can sleep up to four but they're all in one room so ... you know what I mean.

Food: There's no takeaway joint or dairy down the road, let alone another restaurant, so guests need to eat at Mantaray Island Resort's restaurant. They have a set menu of about seven mains for lunch and dinner each day, which are tasty and suit most palates. A compulsory meal package (breakfast, lunch and dinner) is FJD$95 ($63) a day and $45.50 for kids.

Added extras: There's an activities hut on the waterfront, which has kayaks, snorkel gear and some sports gear available. The resort also offers daily sunset cruises (think more tyre-tube rides with a bevvy in hand) as well as regular traditional dancing, crab races and bonfire nights. For a few extra bob, the diving is excellent, deep sea fishing good fun and the waterside massage relaxing.

Warning: They don't have a hotel pool but there's a fairly big and enticing ocean metres from each room.

Don't miss: The opportunity to swim with the manta rays. The large rays (they can grow to 7 metres wide) cruise around the channels nearby feeding for up to six months of the year (May-October) and don't mind a few less-graceful creatures sharing the water with them. They cruise up and down the channel like stealth bombers and, when up close, feel almost as big.

Price: Prices range from $43 a night for a bed in the dorm through to $509 for the beachfront villas.

Would I return: The kids wanted to emigrate.

- NZ Herald

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