SUGGEST a vacation on a private island off Fiji’s stunning Coral Coast to anyone and the answer’s always going to be a resounding “yes”. And Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa doesn’t disappoint. Idyllic and magical, an oasis of calm that will check every box if you’re seeking that perfect island refuge away from the work desk and all that concrete clutter of the city.
It almost feels like a homecoming.
Friendly, genuine smiles greet us and glasses of tropical awesomeness are placed in our hands as we step into the foyer of the resort on Yanuca Island.
As we smile and exchange hellos, complimentary sea shell necklaces are draped around our necks, appropriate reminders of the days of beachside bumming we have ahead of us.
The resort is as iconic as it is massive – spread across 109 acres (44.11ha) just outside Sigatoka town, it is the largest single hotel in all of Fiji. It is styled to resemble a traditional Fijian village, with earthy hues of dark browns and greens emanating island-style luxury.
In our room, we find a chilled bottle of bubbly and a box of chocolates as the perfect, indulgent accompaniment. Well don’t mind if we do!
The beautiful island is packed with holiday goodness – several pools, direct access to the beach, a spa, tennis and basketball courts, even a 9-hole golf course, and loads of space to relax and unwind.
“No hurry, no worry,” they tell us. “Fiji time!”
At CHI, The Spa, we luxuriate in style, choosing the traditional Fijian bobo massage with rich coconut oil. This treatment allows couples to relax side by side while skilful therapists apply just the right amount of pressure on our tired muscles. The spa celebrates its 10th anniversary this year so they are no beginners to the pampering game, knowing exactly how to help you unwind. The spa menu even features an overnight option (yes, really) which includes a bathtub, massage, facial and much more.
The next day sees us swept off to a local village and beach for the Natadola Magic Tour. We are greeted at the village by Fijians of all ages, singing and dancing as they celebrate our arrival. We even get to meet the chief and they put on a real show for us, with traditional warrior dances and a kava ceremony (with the ubiquitous “bula” greeting thrown in plenty of times for good measure). Kava is something of a national drink in Fiji – made from the root of a pepper plant, it has a slightly earthy taste and is also a mild narcotic; it gives you a tingling or numb feeling in the mouth and makes you relax. A parting gift of a fragrant frangipani necklace ensures my senses are filled with the aroma of Fiji for the rest of the day.
The festivities done, we hop into our open window bus where we’re handed a glass of sparkling beer or soft drink each to tie us over to the next stop.
Natadola beach is clearly the source of the Yanuca magic with its pristine white sands and turquoise swells ensuring it is often ranked one of the ten best beaches in the world!
After settling our growling tummies with a satisfying BBQ lunch, we have time to swim, lounge about, go for a horse ride, and while away the rest of the daylight hours with a bout of volleyball. Our guide invites us to join a couple of beachside games where those with enviable skills, like drinking fresh coconut water in record time or throwing water balloons, are assured a prize.
Back at the resort, dinner time challenges us to pick from a bounty of restaurants and bars. With the resources of the entire island at its disposal, Shangri-La’s smorgasbord of delectable offerings will excite any and all tastebuds. We settle first on the Beach Bar & Grill, which lured us in with its tantalizing variety of sizzling Western dishes likely to impress even the fussiest of eaters.
On another night, we decide to try the resort’s pan-Asian option Takali Restaurant where, so spoilt for choice, we forgo mains and order every single entrée instead! This ensures we capture the full range of Malaysian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean flavours on the expansive menu. With the hypnotic sound of waves crashing on reef as our dinner companion, the experience could not have been more enjoyable.
All too soon, it’s time for our last “bula” as we leave behind the Coral Coast and the tropical luxury of Yanuca Island’s Shangri-La Resort. Until next time…