A few weeks ago I shared some lessons learned from my first trip to Fiji. I may have stopped just short of proclaiming it the most beautiful place on earth.
After a 10.5 hour journey from LAX, we arrived at Fiji’s international gateway, Nadi International Airport, at 5:30 am local time. This is not exactly my shining hour, but the scents of frangipani wafting through the air quickly reminded me of the excitement that would await.
Our destination was Matangi Island Resort, a 240 acre private island located just off the North coast of Fiji’s third largest island – Taveuni. The volcanic island has a unique horseshoe shape, and the bay which is formed by the arc of the horseshoe (not coincidentally named Horseshoe Bay) famously appeared as one of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die” by author Patricia Schultz. I can’t deny that this book was the original catalyst for my longstanding desire to visit Matangi (well, that and the fact that its underwater offerings are consistently praised by divers and snorkelers).
After a 20 minute boat ride from Taveuni, I caught my first glimpse of Matangi as we neared its shore.
I stepped off the boat, and a chorus of Fijian voices filled the air. As a traditional garland was placed around my neck, I almost teared up when a smiling staff member whispered “Welcome Home” into my ear.
Our home for the week would be the Tini Bure (Bure 10). Tini is perched just steps from the sandy beach with easy access to shore snorkeling.
Matangi’s grounds are green and lush and filled with tropical flowers and fruits (I’m still dreaming about the papayas, which were of a quality I will never find at home). The landscaping is impressive, thanks in no small part to the dedicated staff who manicure every square meter of land around the resort.
In addition to the diving and snorkeling, which were our main priorities, we found many ways to pass the time on Matangi. It was here that I had my first taste of kava – a traditional drink in many South Pacific islands. Kava is made by grounding and pulverizing the root of a type of pepper plant. Kava has a long tradition as an important part of the Fijian culture. It is typically consumed in a social setting, with all parties sitting on a mat forming a circle around the kava bowl. After a few shells of kava (it is served in coconut shells), I felt quite mellow and happy. It is also known to numb the face and mouth, and yes, I can confirm that this is the case.
We also observed a Meke – a traditional song and dance performed by members of a Fijian village. The Meke tells the story of a village’s history.
I made sure to allow ample time for relaxation and sunset watching on Matangi’s main sandy beach.
Matangi’s sunsets were mezmerizing. We watched the sun set over Qamea island each night.
So, our main “excuse” (like we really needed one) for visiting Matangi was threefold. My birthday, Mr. Reeftraveler’s birthday and our five-year wedding anniversary were all celebrated there. The staff surprised us with a gigantic cake and a birthday song for each of our three occasions.
Matangi is a paradise for animal lovers. In addition to the owners’ cats, dogs and pet pig (Ms. Piggy), you will encounter frogs, large crabs, fruit bats, goats and exotic birds.
It was hard to leave this little island. We had become friends with the staff. It had felt like “home”. Everything from the warm greetings to the warm water, to the colorful reefs, to the friendly animals, to the great food and drink combined to make our stay at Matangi one of the best experiences in my life.
I have much more to share about Matangi, including dive and snorkel photos and photos from a trip to Togo Village, Qamea.