Malolo Island: Mixing day spas, diving and fine dining

"To the left and right, white-paneled burés with thatched roofs and French windows open onto beautifully manicured gardens and a couple of hammocks. "

Malolo Island Resort reopened recently after cyclone damage closed the resort for eight months last year. After extensive renovations, the finished result is stunning.

A high-arched, thatch-roofed lounge greets you after walking up the jetty accompanied by a band of musical Fijians and beyond, a white panelled colonial style building which houses the restaurant and function rooms. To the left and right, white-paneled burés with thatched roofs and French windows open onto beautifully manicured gardens and a couple of hammocks. In a couple of secluded corners (far apart from each other) the kids club and the day spa, and down on the beachfront, the brand new water sports shack and dive shop. I head here first.

Brightly coloured kayaks, stand up paddle boards and sailboards line the beach and I’m greeted by a blackboard listing the day’s activities. The choice is staggering. Guided kayak tours, beach volleyball, snorkelling, dolphin safaris, banana boat rides, fishing, walking tours and various day trips to nearby villages, schools and a choice of island hopping tours – they’ll even take you to Modriki Island, made famous by the Tom Hanks’ movie, Castaway (WILSON!) There are as many activities for kids as there are for grownups, both in and out of kids Club.

Diving’s first on my agenda and I’m taken first thing in the morning to a site just off Plantation Island called Plantation Pinnacle. As the name would suggest, it’s a tall bommie which we spiral down to reach a sandy bottom at about 25 metres. It’s a great spot for both beginners and more experienced divers, with beginners able to explore the top of the bommie at depths of about six to 10 metres, while the more experienced can explore the depths.

At the base, there is a small swim through populated with pretty gorgonian fans and the odd lion fish, and in the nearby sandy sea floor, hundreds of little garden eels poke their heads out the sand and wave backwards and forwards in the (very mild) current. On top, a beautiful coral garden and clown fish colony in which to spend your decompression stop.

Kids as young as 10 years are able to dive in Fiji and qualify for a Junior Open Water certificate, although most kids that qualify here are 12 and older. If you plan on diving here, make sure you book your dives a day in advance. There’s usually only 5-6 people on the dive boat at any one time so it’s an intimate and very enjoyable experience.

Back at the resort, a visit to the day spa is compulsory in my book. The treatment rooms back onto the rainforest interior of the Island and they’re incredibly tranquil.

Choose from a range of massages, facials or body treatments – all very competitively priced. I opt for a 60 minute Aromatic Massage after a fairly tiring day of diving (well, sort-of) it’s the perfect way to end the day.

And having inspected my revolting travel-sore feet, I also book a pedicure for the next day.

There is a choice of three restaurants, serving a great range of first class meals, ranging from pizza and burgers to curries, wagyu steaks and very decadent looking seafood platters.

Which is what we’re treated to on our first night. It’s one of those enormous-piled-high platters that attracts looks from all the restaurant patrons as it makes its way to our table.

The next day we’re invited to visit a local school and watch the kids practice for their end of year concert before heading over to neighbouring LikuLiku Resort for lunch, which is where we meet this guy.

A breed of banded iguana that’s unique to Malolo Island, and until very recently thought extinct. Resort employees have now found three on the island, including a breeding pair, and are working with Taronga Zoo to develop a breeding program.

This resort is a a kid-free zone, with private plunge pools and burés over the water so you can climb down a ladder and snorkel in a beautiful coral reef (handy). One day maybe I’ll get to stay here too.

 

Photos:

Deborah Dickson-Smith

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Malolo Island Resort, Malolo Island, Mamanucas, Fiji Islands

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