Leaving is so hard to do, writes Courtney Whitaker.

'Stand on the scale please, I need to weigh you."

On a normal day, a request like this made anywhere other than in a gym would be truly mortifying. But this was no normal day: my partner and I were about to board a plane to an island paradise, so jumping on a giant scale in front of a group of people seemed the least I could do.

Royal Davui Island Resort, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji.
Royal Davui Island Resort, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji.

When we had been deemed acceptably light enough and taken to the plane, I suddenly wondered whether the sandwich I'd eaten on the flight from Auckland to Nadi might now be a matter of life and death.


"Duchess" stood on Nadi Airport's domestic tarmac, gleaming in the sun. And you could hardly call her majestic; she was clearly the miniature pony of the aircraft world. Our pilots Dean and Lepani assured us she would be able to handle the four of us, and thankfully, they we right. For the next 45 minutes the wee gal soared towards Suva and we relaxed into our first-class seats, with a view straight over the pilots' shoulders.

From Suva's port, we boarded a boat for a 35-minute ride out to our home for the next five days: Royal Davui Island Resort.

Often, it is the small details that really make a holiday special: warm smiles from the staff; fresh banana bread waiting in your room; the soothing sound of lapping waves. This place had all of these things and more.

Royal Davui island, which sits in the Beqa Lagoon, is surrounded by a coral reef making it ideal for snorkelling, and picturesque to boot. The adults-only resort has been sensitively built into its surroundings to preserve the ecosystem on the island. There are only 16 vales, created traditionally using sustainable timber. The limited but luxury accommodation makes for a unique experience, and the resulting interaction with staff is quite personal. True to its name, the resort makes you feel like royalty.

Royal Davui Island, Fiji.
Royal Davui Island, Fiji.

Beautiful wooden accents and Fijian pottery lined the entryway to our Sunset Plunge Pool villa, leading through to an open-plan lounge, complete with a bar and bifold doors on to the sweeping balcony, and of course, the plunge pool. For miles, all we could see was clear, turquoise water; the ideal spot to catch a riotous sunset every evening.
The separate, open-plan bedroom and bathroom were equally impressive, with a mosquito-netted bed, a hot tub, and louvred ceilings to enjoy open-air showers.

For breakfast we would dine on freshly baked croissants and tropical fruit, before inevitably rolling our chunky selves down to the main pool to cool off. We pre-ordered our meal choices each day, so all that was left to worry about was happy hour.

We snorkelled through reefs full of friendly tropical fish, electric-blue starfish and massive turtles. From our balcony we saw reef sharks lurking in the shallows hunting for lunch - not humans, mind you, they have fussy palates.

We wandered the island's lush gardens, geckos darting across our path with every step.
We saw a sea snake. "Oh, you'll be lucky if you see one here, they tend to stay away from humans," said one staff member. Well, we got lucky. The black-and-white striped critter was heading up the sand and into the grass when we saw it, and it was neither small, nor cute. Thankfully, it was the only one we encountered during our stay.


We found a secluded beach on the east side of the island and tiptoed across the white sand, past lazy drooping palm trees; careful not to crush any hermit crabs scrambling to avoid us. We enjoyed full-body massages at the resort's spa, and fell asleep as fragrant Pure Fiji oils were massaged into our sunburnt bodies.

We lazed in our plunge pool at sunset with glasses of Champagne and watched as the resident bat, who we named Batman, flew nonsensically between the trees. For dinner we feasted on the freshest tuna, snapper and kokoda, with every meal tasting more delicious than the last one.

We booked a picnic. A 10-minute boat ride from our resort saw us deposited on an otherworldly private sand cay, which emerges at low tide. The sand was pristine and the water as clear as glass. Our captain helped us set up deck chairs and an umbrella, and sailed off into the distance, leaving us with lunch and a bottle of Champagne.

Royal Davui Island, Fiji.
Royal Davui Island, Fiji.

We explored the warm, clear waters, snorkelling and soaking up the sun, and returned back to the resort tanned and tipsy.

There is no concept of time at the Royal Davui - the perfect tonic for tired, jaded city-dwellers. It is all too easy to fall into a blissful routine of doing absolutely nothing here, happy in the knowledge your every whim will be catered for. And we had no trouble adjusting to "island time".

Leaving the place we had called home for the past five days, however, was another matter entirely. On our last day, we found ourselves desperately hoping we had eaten far too much to take the light plane back to Nadi.

No such luck.

Courtney Whitaker on a plane on her way to Royal Davui Island Resort, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji.
Courtney Whitaker on a plane on her way to Royal Davui Island Resort, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji.


Getting there

Fiji Airways flies from Auckland to Nadi, with return Economy Class fares starting from $661.