Downey Duck Wananavu, Fiji

Fiji - Wananavu Beach Resort

Fiji is a 10 hour flight from LAX. Wananavu Beach Resort is about a two-hour drive from the Nadi airport, so we arrived in time for a late breakfast. Wananavu means "beautiful" in Fijian and it is just that. About ten years old, the resort looks much newer, as it is kept up very well. There are 31 garden-view and ocean-view cottages and villas, several right on the beach, the others set on a hillside with winding concrete paths. The garden-view rooms are dark inside, but fine otherwise-the ocean view is a minute walk away. Upgrade if you crave light and ocean views. All rooms have AC and secure screens with louvered windows. The rest of the resort is also multi-level, from the reception/dining areas to the pool, and down to the beach and jetty areas. The pool is warm and lovely with large rocks for sitting and shady areas to escape the sun. It is surrounded by foliage and a manmade wall with a cascading waterfall. As for mosquitoes, I used light-duty repellant during the day (Skin-So-Soft) and heavy-duty repellant with DEET in the evening and only got a few bites. The key is consistency.

Meals were very good to excellent, served in the outdoor dining area by friendly staff. Breakfast consisted of a buffet of fruit, freshly made rolls and muffins, juice, toast and cereal. We could also order eggs and pancakes off the menu. When large groups are present, the buffet includes cold and hot food. Lunch was ordered from the menu and included lighter dishes such as Thai chicken salad and a regular menu that included soup, hamburgers, sandwiches, a variety of fish choices, and a daily "special".

Happy hour was observed each day with specially priced cocktails and half-price beer, followed by dinner, a bit more formal with linens on the tables and a local band playing. Guests were invited to partake of the kava bowl at this time. Along with the daily dinner "special" were a variety of fish, vegetarian, and meat choices.

Many guest activities are available, some at no charge, such as snorkeling off the beach, kayaking, village tour, horseback riding, cooking demonstrations, bush medicine, river boating, and beach picnic. There is also a weekly meke, consisting of a meal of local foods, and singing and dancing performed by the resort's staff. We did a new tour that included horse-back riding, waterfall slide, and an intimate meke at the village where one of the staff's mother was raised. While we rode the horses, several villagers walked along to make sure we were well taken care of, or maybe we were just the entertainment for the day! We highly recommend this particular tour. Some of our group sampled the services of the new spa on site, and were very satisfied.

But we came for the diving with Kai Viti Divers. Our group was on the smaller of two sturdy aluminum boats that are set up nicely for divers. There were two buckets of fresh water for the three cameras in our group. We had plenty room for five to seven divers plus the friendly staff of three. The water was 84 degrees at the end of January, wonderfully warm, but that also meant less visibility. Our first day of diving had 50-75 foot visibility, but we had 75-100 foot visibility after that, as we were able to get out to the better dive sites. The hour long rides were smooth and the between dive snacks were the best we've ever had from a land-based operation, consisting of hot Milo (similar to hot cocoa), deliciously fresh pineapple, and freshly made cakes (banana was our favorite). One day we did three dives and the hotel provided a delicious lunch that we selected the day before.

Under water, we saw a few sharks, beautiful soft corals, and tons of fish. We also hunted for and found pipe fish, various types of nudibranchs, and other critters, enough to stay entertained for hours. We encountered a couple dives with strong current, but we did mostly drift diving or hid on the lee side of pinnacles, so the current wasn't a problem.

We liked pretty much everything about Wananavu Beach Resort-the rooms, the dining, the pool, the diving, the people, and the ambience. There's plenty for divers and non-divers to do, and it's a nice place to just kick back and relax.