Fiji was a most welcome break from the daily struggles in Iraq where I've been since 2004.

Such incomparable beauty among the reefs, on its islands, and with its people.

From close encounters of the best kind with sea life to meetings with local elders (and imbibing in the local brew) and mixing with enthusiastic school children -- it is a place that will remain in memory and to which I shall return with great joy. Cheers!
— Raoul Alcala, Founding Member since 2007.

Resorts/Yachts/Dive Ops

Our Favorite Fiji Resort

Our Favorite Fiji Dive Operator

Our Favorite Fiji Resort -Wananavu Beach Resort

Bula! Welcome to Fiji! Wananavu Beach Resort is a little slice of tropical heaven conveniently situated on the northern tip of Viti Levu, the southern main island of Fiji. This means that just two hours after arriving at the airport in Nadi and without any additional domestic hops, you can be in the warm waters of the Koro Sea enjoying the fish. This secluded little resort is at the southern end of the Bligh Waters, known to have the best diving in all of Fiji. When I can find a romantic boutique hideaway like Wananavu combined with this type of diving, I know I’ve found a wonderful place, which by the way is exactly what Wananavu means in Fijian – Wonderful.

From www.wananavu.com

If you’re looking for a true Fijian experience away from the major tourist areas then wananavu is where you want to be – come where you can spend your time relaxing in paradise with our luxury bure accommodation catering for everyone from honeymooners to families.
Wananavu is a truly idyllic resort offering an island paradise experience with mainland convenience. Just a 2 and ¼ hour journey from Nadi International Airport will have you being met with the biggest Bula in Fiji and tasting your first coconut before most other visitors have even reached their island destinations.
Wananavu boasts 34 deluxe Bures amongst the lush, tropical gardens, dotted along the beach front or perched on the hillside overlooking the azure Sailstone Reef and the Nananui Islands.

Overall Feel of Wananavu Beach Resort

I tend towards resorts that are boutique-y, quiet and upscale. I don’t go much for the mega-resort or the thumping sound system by the pool with “cruise directors” trying to keep all the guests busy and buying drinks. If that’s the kind of dive trip you are looking for, fantastic but then Wananavu would not be the place for you.

Wananavu is more of a place to enjoy the breeze through the coconut trees and the sounds of the local boys playing their guitars singing traditional Fijian tunes. At sunset, one of the young boys from the village runs through the deck area lighting the tiki torches in ritual garb to the beat of the Lali, the traditional drum. It’s a place where the servers call me by first name and hug me and squeal in delight when I return the following year. It’s a place for wine in a hammock at sunset or with good friends on the front porch of my bure (the Fijian name for house). It’s a place for great days of diving and relaxing evening reliving them.

Resort Spec Highlights

  1. 34 Bures
  2. 1 restaurant
  3. 1 bar
  4. a walk in swimming pool with waterfall
  5. On site dive center (sort of)
  6. Full Spa Service
  7. Daily included cultural talks

Beach

Wananvu has a small beach area complete with coconut palm trees and inviting hammocks. But the tide in the area is fairly big so when it’s out there is a bit of a mud flat. This is common in many areas of Fiji. The water at the resort is certainly swimmable but it is not at the edge of the blue blue water with colorful reefs that is expected from a south seas resort.

Snorkeling

You can find some interesting fish if you snorkel off the little boat dock and out and around the rocky area but I would certainly not call it world class. The reef area near the resort can be low in visibility due to the tidal flow at certain times of the day. The best snorkeling as well as diving is out in the Bligh Waters about 45-60 minute boat ride from Wananavu.

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool is on the hillside just below the main bure and has a nice waterfall. It is a walk in pool so I can lie in the shallow water just a few inches deep. There are lounge chairs around the pool and it’s just a short flight of stairs up to the bar! It’s a nice place to land after a day of diving…sometimes the fresh water just feels good!

Bars and Restaurants

The resort is small so there is just one restaurant up in the main building on the hill. The view is spectacular and it is the perfect place to have dinner and enjoy the breeze. You can eat inside the main building in case of poor weather or outside on the deck. Tables are small to encourage an intimate atmosphere but they can also easily put together tables so our groups of 16 or so can enjoy meals together.

Breakfast is buffet style with eggs to order so that the divers can get in and out and on their way. Lunch and dinner are both plated meals. The lunch menu has about 10 items to choose from so there’s plenty of variety. There is always a dinner special and often it is something with Indian influence such as curries or samosas or other tasty treats. One night a week, a traditional dinner is prepared in the lovo, an earthen oven with meat cooked slowly wrapped in leaves all day long under the watchful eye of the chef!

The bar is on the side of the restaurant just inside the main building. There are plenty of chairs and tables and you can take your drinks out on the deck or pull up a stool at the bar. There is a TV near the bar so I can hook up my video camera and relive the day’s dive and help the divers identify new fishes and their behavior.

Wai Spa

The spa is small but mighty! The girls offer a huge array of treatments from a coconut scrub to his and hers massages to papaya nourishing facials and even chakra balancing.

The spa sits on the hill overlooking the lush vegetation down to the sea and offers a very relaxing atmosphere. The only thing I didn’t like about the spa was having to walk past the deck with the restaurant and bar afterwards. You know how you look after a massage- hair sticking up all over, eyes barely open and smelling and glistening like a coconut!

Accommodations

Wananavu has four different room categories plus a villa and a two bedroom “house” so there really is a price point that can meet most upscale budgets. My most recent trip to Wananavu was in March 2010 and they had just completed new furnishings in the bures with new linens with bright colors and new wall decor. The effect was to open up the rooms and bring a lightness to them amongst the traditional wood interior. I was very happy with the refit. All rooms have air con and ceiling fans.

Garden View

Let’s start with the garden bures. These are really the only ones I don’t like. They are set around the side of resort down a concrete path tucked into the trees. And they are very, very dark inside. I don’t feel like I am in the tropics and little sunlight penetrates there. There are both one and two bedroom bures here. I would gladly pay the extra $35 or so to upgrade to the ocean view bures.

Ocean View

The Ocean View rooms are set along the pathway on the front side of the resort overlooking the ocean as well as above the resort on the upper hill. These bures are similar in size to the garden view and all have a nice front deck to enjoy in the evenings. The sitting area inside is really too small to use but the king size bed faces the open doors which brings the outdoors in.

Beach Front

I love the beach front bures! They are just two steps from the hammocks on the beach but since they are located at the bottom of the hill below the resort you feel like you’ve gotten away (not that it’s a loud, party atmosphere by any means!). Do note that you will have to walk up the hill to meals and the pool and bar but if you are in any kind of reasonable shape it’s not a problem. The rooms are more spacious with a useable sitting area. The bathrooms are large with double sinks and a walk in shower with a glass wall looking out into a private green area.

Honeymoon Bures

There are now three honeymoon bures at Wananavu and it’s hard to pick a favorite. The two that have just been completed are above the resort with magnificent views, private plunge pool, a large lounge area and indoor and outdoor showers. However, the beachfront honeymoon bure I absolutely love. The plunge pool is completely private…(use your imagination here!) and the canopy king size bed makes me seriously contemplate skipping a morning dive just to hang out (though I never do!). The sitting area and large porch are great for entertaining as well. I can tell you from experience these bures are very romantic!

2 Bedroom Beachfront House

This is a great house for the family. It sleeps four in two bedrooms (one king and one with two single beds) and has a real comfortable feel. It has a kitchen and a washing machine and is set a little apart from the rest of the resort on it’s own stretch of beach.

Villa Vanua

This is the owner’s house and is recently completed and is situated on the highest point of the hill. I went up there for sunset and appetizers one night to check it out. It’s truly amazing! It has a 30ft swimming pool in front of the huge lanai with the most magnificent views of the entire resort, ocean and surrounding islands. The villa sleeps ten in four bedrooms with a complete kitchen and state of the art sound system. It uses modern furniture with traditional wood. It is definitely a place I’d stay if my budget allowed for it!

Overall

Fiji was where we ran our first adventure trip so it has my heart. Wananvu is where we’ve run our last two Fiji adventures so it too has my heart. It is a destination resort so it is not very accessible to other parts of the island without long drives. You need to be happy diving and lounging and enjoying the spa. The staff is very typical Fijian which by definition means they are the nicest people in the world! While we were there, we made contact with a village nearby on the island of Malake. It was here that we started our first support of village schools through our non-profit Ocean of Hope Foundation. If you decide to visit this area of Fiji, please let us know and perhaps you can help us help Malake Village!

Our Favorite Dive Operator -Wananvu Dive Operation

The dive operation at Wananvu has had some rocky times the last couple of years but they are back on their feet and up to speed. The dive operation located just next to Wananvu was a separate company called Kai Viti Divers. Kai Viti closed its doors sometime in late 2008 or early 2009. Nearby Ra Divers took over the operation and there were adjustments and ramp up time.

When I was there in March 2010, I was happy to see that all the same DMs were there from 2008 so while the management of the operation changed, it was still business as usual for this great DM team. There were boat issues with Kai Viti and it appears that all of this is now sorted and I personally wouldn’t hesitate to book my dive vacation here.

Facility

Down at the dock Wananvu has recently built a small hut with some rental gear and a couple of tables with a cooler of cold bevies for after your dives. Ra Divers comes over from their shop on the point (about a 10 minute ride) to pick up the divers each day. You simply get on the boat and go! It is a very simply run program with dives either at the local Sailstone reef or out to Vanu-I-Ra passage in the world class Bligh Waters.

Your gear is handled by Ra Divers each day and you only take back to your bure what you want at the end of the dive day. For longer days out at Vanu-I-Ra, Wananavu will pack up a cooler with lunch and drinks.

Boats

Ra Divers runs three dive boats with a total capacity for 36 divers. Generally one boat stays on the local reefs and one or two make the hour long run out to the Bligh. The larger boats carry about 12 divers and are a typical aluminum deep V boat with a small bow area for riding or sunning and a rooftop you can sit on as well. These are not “state of the art” dive boats but they get us to the great diving and back and are easy to giant stride off with sturdy reboarding ladders.

The Dive Operation

There is never any crowding on the reefs as Ra Diver is the only land based dive operator to work in the Vanu-I-Ra Bligh Waters area. The only other dive boats you’ll see are the live aboards. The DMs are well versed on the area, understand the currents and do a great job of leading divers through what can sometimes be some challenging conditions with strong currents. They are friendly though a bit shy but if you coax them out just a little you’ll be rewarded.

Safety and Environment

Dive safety is definitely number one priority and all safety equipment is on board the boats. The dive team practices good etiquette on the reef and doesn’t handle or hassle the critters.

Overall

Fiji has quite a few good dive areas. The Vanu-I-Ra passage of the Bligh Waters is one of the very best and if you prefer to do your diving land based, then Wananavu and Ra Divers is for you. You will find a romantic getaway or a great place for a group of friends to have a great week of diving!

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