At Home on Turtle Island, Fiji
By: Gordon Steere
Imagine waking to an alarm that softly sings “Bula Bula” to you each morning. Everyday during our visit to Turtle Island Resort, our “Bure Mama,” Kini, would ensure we woke to that cheerful sound so we wouldn’t miss whatever excursion we had decided on for the day.
But I am getting ahead of myself – Turtle Island is a 500-acre resort located about 30 minutes by seaplane from Nadi, Fiji’s International airport. Guests on Turtle Island arrive and depart on a daily basis so you are always meeting new people from around the world.
On top of this romantic, idyllic location, what makes Turtle Island stand out among many other tropical destinations around the world is the warmth and friendliness of the Fijian Islanders who serve their guests with an uncompromising desire to make them feel like they are part of their family.
The seaplane flight is the start of your “total island” experience as you soar over deep turquoise water, beautiful coral reefs, and islands with small villages. You touch down in a cove where the movie “The Blue Lagoon” was filmed and, as the seaplane departs, you realize how isolated this island really is. Any anxiety quickly melts away as you are warmly greeted by the Turtle Island staff and escorted to your private bure, one of 14 private cottages along the beach cove.
As we entered, the romance of the bure took our breath away. There, on the king-size canopy bed was a welcome home message in fresh hibiscus and palm leaves. Upon arrival each couple is assigned a Bure Mama. Among her many jobs, she sets out fresh hibiscus each day around your bure, and plans all your special outings while on Turtle Island.
In this eco-friendly place, the bure is constructed using materials from the island with wood floors, an intricate ceiling design and a roof constructed of thatched palm branches. Other bure amenities included an outdoor shower, and our favorite touch – an outdoor day bed. We found ourselves lounging and napping each afternoon as the cool island breeze moved through the palms with colorful parrots serenading each other.
The stay on Turtle Island is all-inclusive and your Bure Mama ensures you never go without your favorite foods or drinks. The wine cellar boats a significant variety of wines and champagnes from around the world.
The Island offers a very flexible dining experience. The common table, where you mingle with the other island guests, is always available for each meal. Or, if you want more alone time, you can choose to have breakfast or lunch on your favorite beach. An intimate dinner can be enjoyed in your bure or on a candle lit pontoon floating in the lagoon. Our romantic dinner on the water was the most intimate and unusual dining venue we have ever experienced!
One of the unique highlights of Turtle Island is the chance to enjoy one of 14 private beaches. Each secluded beach is scheduled to ensure you have the place all to yourself and you can try a different one every day of the week. Each day your Bure Mama asks for your preferences and carefully packs gourmet lunches – our personal favorite was fresh lobster and wine. After lunch a nap in the shaded hammock, with the quiet cadence of the surf, relaxation takes over. Your energy returns just in time to snorkel or hunt for exotic seashells along the beach.
The sunrise horseback ride to Long beach is a “don’t miss.” The horses have a mind of their own as they graze along the path to the beach but the prize is a breathtaking sunrise with a breakfast consisting of mimosas, fresh fruit and muffins. Don’t forget your camera.
World class snorkeling can be found right in the lagoon. The reefs were magnificent and the Fijian guides pointed out rare black coral and giant clams. Fiji is also known for its outstanding scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. Another indulgence they are known for is the four handed lomi lomi massage done in the privacy of your own bure. It melts you to putty.
One of the most endearing parts of Turtle Island is watching what happens when things do not go as planned. One evening, as the staff was preparing to perform a pre-dinner fashion show they realized that the CD for the show had disappeared. Bill, our dining host and one of the most talented people I have ever met, launched into an improvised song and dance accompanied by staff members playing guitar. He grabbed gift shop hats and mannequins and danced around the circle of guests. We did not understand a word he was singing but we didn’t care; we were laughing so hard at his crazy antics, it was the best entertainment of the week. And this gets back to why Turtle Island stands out as a great destination. The staff truly cares about you and they will do whatever it takes to meet your needs and expectations. You grow very close to your Bure Mama and when it is time to board the sea plane and your new friends come to the dock to see you off, I guarantee you will be shedding some tears of appreciation for the wonderful people of Turtle Island. Bula Bula my friends!
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