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Sometimes a short holiday is just what you need to recharge your battery and to get away from it all. When my son and his wife asked me if I wanted to go to Fiji with them on a family holiday, I immediately said yes. It was only a short 6 day/5 night break to magical Mana Island in Fiji.
Who would have thought that the South Pacific country of Fiji is in fact an archipelago of more than 300 islands? I have always assumed it was one smallish island with a few tiny islands surrounding it.
I travelled to Mana Island, one of the Mamanucas Island group, that is located around three quarters an hour to one hour off the coast of Port Denarau, about 30 minutes from Nadi. Mana Island Resort & Spa is positioned in the heart of the 27 islands that make up the group.
Upon arrival into Nadi a shuttle service took us to Port Denarau where there was a fast boat waiting to transport us to the island. However, there is a regular ferry service that departs from the port at scheduled times during the day. Due to our late afternoon arrival we missed the last ferry, so we had to paid extra for a fast boat.
Magical Mana Island is fringed by white sand beaches, coconut palms, a couple of rocky headlands, coral and pristine crystal clear water. The resort sprawls across the narrow centre portion of the island amongst gardens and natural vegetation.
The resort offers an extensive range of accommodation from premium beachfront bures to luxury suite rooms or the traditional Fijian bures. I chose to stay in one of the garden bures, that was spacious and comfortable, however, a little run down. The interesting thing about the bure was that it had a stone-walled curved outdoor shower. You could look at the sky whilst you were taking a shower!
The air conditioned rooms were equipped with tea and coffee making facilities, a bar fridge, and Fijian toiletries. Outside on the covered porch there were two comfy chairs and a table for our afternoon aperitifs. Surrounded by gardens and lawns made it perfect for the little ones to run around. I guess the main drawback was that our bure was not serviced every day and wifi is not included. I had to pay $80 for wifi for the week.
There are two fresh-water pools, a choice of six restaurants, four bars – one being a poolside swim-up option, three pristine beaches, kid’s club, games room, a boutique and shop, a medical centre, tennis courts, gym, laundry, day spa, and water activities galore.
Nearby, there is a small village where there are markets selling souvenirs, a cafe/bar, backpackers accommodation and boats to hire. My little granddaughter had her hair braided here by the village ladies and looked ever so cute!
An interesting fact about Mana Island is that it’s used for the filming of the reality tv program called “Survivor”. For six months of the year, the film crew and staff book out the island and the resort so that they can film the series. A walk around the island unveiled some of the sets and props for the tv program.
Mostly, I lounged around the pool playing with my grandkids in the shallow children’s pool. I was able to grab a cool beachside cabana one day where the entire family enjoyed the comfortable twin sun beds. Other times I played with the kids on the beach and had a dip in the ocean. Each morning I normally took a walk along the beach to the rocky headland at one end.
We four adults went out to Sandy Cay by boat one day to go snorkelling. The coral and the variety of colourful tropical fish was incredible. We all agreed that this was possibly the best snorkelling experience we had ever done. The conditions were perfect with excellent water clarity.
South Sea Cruises offer full and half day trips to Castaway Island or Malolo Island, if you want a change of scenery. Otherwise, you can take a cruise out to Cloud 9 at Ro Ro Reef for a day of swimming, snorkelling, thumping music, fruity cocktails and woodfire pizzas.
For the thrill seekers you can also have an ultimate encounter snorkelling with sharks or manta rays. There are also fishing trips available. My son hired a boat to go surfing at the infamous Cloudbreak during his stay.
There is an activity blackboard outside the reception area of the resort that is updated every day. There are plenty of options of things to do. Things like fish feeding off the jetty, yoga classes, basket weaving, kava tasting, snorkelling off the beach, bingo, pool volleyball, cultural shows, live music and coconut husking, to name a few.
If you’re into water activities then there are snorkels, kayaks, paddleboards available from Marine Water Sports shack on South Beach. You can even organise your Padi Diving Certificate course whilst you’re staying here.
I never did quite find the walking track to the scenic lookout. But I did walk to the tip of the island, past the air strip, via the wedding chapel and Sunset Beach.
We were on a holiday package that included two meals a day at the buffet-style Live Cooking Restaurant. They changed the menu daily and we were all very happy with the quality and selection of food from the buffet. Otherwise we could eat a three course dinner at either the Kura Asian Restaurant or Ocean Breeze Cafe.
For lunch we grabbed a burger or a plate of nachos from Ocean Breeze Cafe. You could order from the comfort of your poolside sun lounge if you wished, which was extremely convenient.
The other choices, at an extra cost, were Kura Asian Restaurant, South Beach Restaurant or Nasu Teppanyaki Japanese Restaurant. On the other side of the island there was also a small cafe called Hibiscus Cafe that served coffee and snacks.
The best thing about Mana Island is its pristineness and the gorgeous laid back vibe you get from the place. The Fijian people, although very casual, are so friendly and everywhere you go they give you a big warm friendly smile and a “bula” greeting. They are particularly warm and friendly to little children. In fact, my grandchildren had a ball at the resort’s kids club.
During my stay I did get to indulge in a rejuvenating massage treatment at the wonderful day spa at the resort. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable experience in beautiful surroundings.
There really was nothing to dislike about Mana Island. In my opinion it ticked all the boxes of a relaxing and fun-filled family holiday resort.
Would I come back here for another holiday? Maybe not necessarily, this particular island, but I would definitely return for another short break to Fiji, maybe on one of the other islands.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.