Navutu Stars Resort on Yaqeta Island, the Yasawa group, Fiji
I’ve always wanted to take my kids to a tropical island because I was taken to a few as a kid, and the magic of snorkelling in crystal clear waters and seeing fish I could only ever dream of has stayed with me my whole life. When my Mum spent a few days in Fiji last year at Navutu Stars resort in the Yasawa Islands and came back raving about it I pushed go on plans to spend Xmas there with my three grown children, my hubby, and my mum. We spent almost the entire year planning and paying for what would be a momentous trip, probably the last as a family since our oldest son turned twenty and moved out of home a few weeks before we left. It was nice to know that he’d be stuck with us, on an island for ten days.
Our first stop in Fiji just two days before Xmas was at the Fiji Gateway Hotel where the hot Fiji atmosphere and a large pool were already giving us that Fiji vibe, it was a nice convenient place to stay as a pit stop before we caught the transfer bus to the port in the morning. I’d been concerned about the potential for sea sickness (which my kids and hubby seem to be prone to) when I’d booked the four hour boat trip to Navutu Stars on the Yasawa Flyer. Mum had convinced me it was ‘an idyllic island hopping cruise all the way and it wouldn’t be a problem, and besides the seaplane, which only takes an hour, was more expensive’. The fly in the ointment of this trip was the uncharacteristically rough day on the ocean we encountered. Four hours worth of watching my family vomit into seasick bags was not something I’d planned for, and it was excruciating. When we finally arrived in our destination I wondered whether I’d be able to get them off the boat and onto the boat the resort had sent out to retrieve us. I don’t know how we managed but we did.
Sam the boat skipper from Navutu Stars resort was calm in the face of our obvious distress, welcoming us with a firm handshake and bringing us to shore where we were greeted like royalty with song and welcome signs from the staff. Somehow we staggered from the boat to shore and emerged into an oasis of calm, an absolute paradise which was almost tear- inducing.
In an open-sided lounge bure we were given fruit cocktails, and flannels for our sweaty brows. Dan a darling of a Fijian man talked soothingly to us as our racing hearts began to beat a more healthy rhythm. We were not rushed off to our rooms quickly; Dan wanted us to feel relaxed and happy first. Once we were restored to a better version of ourselves Dan took us along the beach front which was dotted with coconut trees, frangipane and hibiscus plants, and surrounded by warm clear water, to our bures. Mum’s bure was tucked down a path fringed with plant life, and over some rocks, round the corner, up some stone steps and across a beautiful garden was our larger bure.
We were awestruck by the fusion of modern and traditional simplicity that combined to create a luxurious place to stay. Crystal clear waters lapped at the shore at the end of our front lawn, and a hammock, two day beds and two sun loungers were ours to use in total privacy. Relaxation was breathed into our souls. We spent very little time chucking our togs on and heading into the sea. Swimming together in the warm waters of a remote island paradise was pure magic.
Navutu Stars Resort, the only resort on Yaqeta Island, accommodates around twenty guests aged twelve and over (it was no coincidence that I chose this place) . During our ten day stay we met people from the UK, Australia, Monaco, Japan, and Canada. One couple had a private wedding ceremony on the beach. The small number of people allowed the opportunity to get to know others so a nice little community formed during our stay.
The dining area was a large covered deck with views over the ocean, and the place where you get to meet and mingle with staff and other guests away from your own little sanctuary. Other than great food and an unlimited offering of drinks and cocktails at the bar there is also a blackboard of information and activities which is updated daily. It became part of our evening to check the board for new arrival and departure updates and to think about whether we wanted to take part in any activities on offer the next day.
Activities included walks to the local village, turtle spotting trips, snorkeling trips, coconut demonstrations, kava ceremony, Fijian language lessons, limestone caves adventures, weaving lessons and coral restoration lessons. Some activities were free of charge and others had a cost associated. We made the most of our time and among us managed to give every activity our attention enjoying some great snorkeling opportunities together.
Having snorkeled as a child over coral reefs holding my Mum’s hand it was a wonderful experience doing the same with my kids, it was a bonus that mum was there to witness it all too. Ruvi (our guide and a bit of a joker) tried to convince us that there are no sharks in Fiji, and failing to convince us of that he moved on to trying to convince us that the sharks in Fiji were all vegetarians. Regardless, I never saw a shark on the five snorkeling trips I was lucky enough to take but I did see beautiful fish in that magical underwater world.
Yoga sessions are offered for free every morning at 7 am on the outdoor deck nestled among the treetops where you can breathe in the beauty all around as the sun comes up. I managed three mornings but was too lazy in the other seven mornings to make it. It doesn’t matter; you’re there to relax, and to choose how that happens for you.
If you want to indulge in some luxury there is a beauty spa at the resort. Tucked away at a discreet distance along the beach you will receive your free thirty minute massage either inside the bure or outside on the beach. There are a variety of beauty spa treatments on offer from facials to body wraps. I enjoyed a side by side massage with my hubby (his first ever massage), and a few days later one with my Mum. While I was away swimming through the limestone caves my daughters enjoyed a relaxing massage together. It’s unlikely that any of us will forget the luxury of Fijian massage in such beautiful surroundings. Honestly, I could have had a massage everyday...
The activities hut is where you can find everything you need for a good time. “Can I grab a kayak please”, “can I get a towel”, “book me on that snorkelling trip tomorrow” etc. Our requests were always greeted with enthusiasm from the friendly and very funny activity guys Ruvi, Kikau and Sam to name a few, who were always ready with a good joke or strumming away on a guitar. All five of us were given our own snorkelling gear at the activities hut to keep for the duration of our stay. Many times we chucked our snorkelling gear on outside our bures and swam around the rocks and mangroves watching fish swimming about before returning to shore and falling into our hammocks.
The salt water pool with its expansive deck and relaxing cabana furnished with daybeds was a great place to hang out and chat. Better still the staff were more than happy to bring us drinks, snacks and coffee as we lazed about whiling away relaxing holiday days and staring off to the beautiful ocean blue. We’d often meet by the pool after an excursion and catch up over a drink.
Walking back to our bures along the beach at night was magical. The sea lapped up on the shore, and at high tide we’d often be walking with warm water around our ankles as we ventured back to our island home (don’t worry there’s an alternative inland route). We witnessed some incredible sunsets, saw a stingray hovering in the shallows and watched crabs skittering out of our way. We were in no way mature enough to ignore the allure of the frogs and geckos. At night frogs hopped around the lawn outside our bure, we were often out there counting them up and seeking them out with our torches. They were quiet frogs, minding their own business but it was strangely fascinating to watch them, and I guess we had oodles of time to do so.
We consumed many cocktails and virgin cocktails during our stay and made friends with the lovely staff. It was hard to wrench ourselves away and head home (thankfully the magic of facebook has helped us keep in touch) but it lives on as a paradisaical dream in our memories.
Our trip back on the Yasawa Flyer was like an answered prayer. I’d administered sea legs pills for the return journey but they were unnecessary. It was a hot, sunny day on clear and calm waters.
Navutu Stars offers eco-luxe accommodation in the Yasawa Islands group. It is mid-range expenses wise but provides luxury and exclusivity that one would expect for a much higher price. It was absolute paradise on that tiny little spot in the Pacific Ocean, seasoned with love by exceptional caring and helpful staff. If you want to spoil yourself with some peace and tranquillity you will find it here.
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