The staff came to meet us at the helipad, and a chorus of “Bula!” greeted us as we settled on the ground and the rotor blades slowed on our chopper. It was a grand, ‘show-offy’ entrance after our 10 minute flight over stunning reefs, islands and all shades of blue. But it was worth it! Transfers from the mainland to Tropica Resort, on Malolo Island in Fiji’s Mamanuca group, can be via ferry, private boat, sea plane, or helicopter. We opted for the view (in other words, my partner wanted to check the surf).
There was singing and guitar and smiles and laughter. Hands thrust into ours and a warm “Bula Jacqui”, “Welcome to Tropica”; “Welcome to the family” “I’m…..”. Every one of the staff introduces themselves to the guests and remembers your name. From the maintenance man to the staff at the spa, the bar tender to the tender driver. You have become part of the Tropica family – and the hardest part about your stay will be remembering everyone’s names in return.
We padded along the white sand path (shoes are optional), more introductions, more smiles, more welcomes and we eventually arrive at our bure. Beach front and set into lush tropical gardens, with the requisite hammock out the front, tied between two coconut palms, our own infinity plunge pool with deck chairs and sweeping sunset views from the porch swing. Inside the bure it’s clean and white with tropical accents. The bathroom offers both indoor, and private outdoor shower options.
I was relaxed already.
And you can’t just leave it at that! The most you need to do, is wander up to the restaurant three times a day and enjoy the modern-Fijian fusion cuisine, featuring locally sourced ingredients and created by the chef. Dining at Tropica is the best I have experienced in Fiji – the menu is fresh, exciting, varied and above all, delicious. There is a half-board and full-board meal option meaning you can pay in advance and not give another thought to having all three courses for every dinner.
You can, of course, choose to do more than just relax and dine. The 25 metre infinity pool in front of the restaurant is a start, and at least one poolside cocktail is a must, isn’t it? From your poolside deck chair you may even choose to book in a massage or spa treatment.
But the Mamanuca Islands offer so much more! Our snorkel trip to the sand bar had me squealing with delight – I had never swum with so many fish, so many colours, shapes and sizes! I could have spent all day there with them but the promise of lunch at the resort got me back in the boat. I will know next time to take the ‘Sandbank Picnic’ option.
The following day I snorkelled the dramatic Garden Reef in the morning, marvelling at the coral contrasting against the deep blue of the drop-off, and spent the afternoon exploring above water on a stand up paddleboard. There are also hobie cats and kayaks available for use. Plus, boats to take you fishing, or across to the famous surf breaks of Fiji, such as Cloudbreak and other Restaurants. Each day includes optional extra activities such as cooking demonstrations, Fijian language lessons, walks, basket and hat weaving and so on. You really can do as little or as much as you please.
As an adults-only resort, there is a quiet about Tropica. The gentle strum of a guitar wafts along with the breeze, and the waves gently lap at the sand tinkling small pieces of coral together before the soft whoosh back again. It’s idyllic and serene.
This quiet is broken briefly at 6pm, as the conch signals the start of happy hour, and staff, dressed in traditional grass skirts, run along the shore and light the torches calling “Happy Hour!”. If you choose to, you can break away from your quiet and head to the sunset bar for cocktails with a view. While you may choose a romantic and secluded table to enjoy the evening, friendships are formed here – the resort caters to a maximum of 30 so that a family feel translates to the guests as well.
After dinner, either in the restaurant – or for a truly special experience a private table on the jetty or the beach – you can wander back to your bure to find at turn-down, by your bed, a message has been left in a bottle. Each night the message tells a different Fijian story of love. And with that story, the scent of tropical flowers, and the gentle lapping of waves along the shore, you are rocked to sleep.
Ms Zebra Says: I absolutely LOVE Fiji – however I’ve never heard of this beautiful island?! Thanks Jacqui for not only bringing it our (my) attention, but also for the fabulous insights to your dreamy holiday!
About Jacqui Turner: Photographer behind Running Under the Sprinkler, Jacqui is a photographer and storyteller. She takes any excuse to be travelling and barefoot and thinks it’s even better if it’s with her three kids!