• By Nicole Ayars

My Fijian Family Holiday

Recently my extended family and I had the pleasure of going on a 6 night holiday staying at Plantation Island resort on Malolo Lei Lei island, Fiji. This was my husband and I’s 6th time in Fiji (over a 13 year period) and we are still very much in love with this beautiful destination. Within our group were my parents (65), my sister, brother in law, 2 nieces (7,4), family friends and their two kids (8,3) and my husband and I and three kids (11,8,6). We were the only ones that had been to Fiji prior so it was nice to see it through their eyes as newcomers.

Over the years we have stayed in multiple places at different times of the year, as we like to mix it up a bit and often go for a deal rather than a set hotel each time. In the past we have stayed on the Coral Coast, Denarau Island and Malolo Lei Lei island, as well as doing a day trip around Suva as part of a cruise. We love it all and each spot has its pro’s and con’s but one thing is always certain when our family goes on holidays we make the most of the experience and always dive right in to having fun and spending time together. 

The Coral Coast on Fiji is beautiful and very close to mountains as well as the beach. The drive however from the airport is quite lengthy and can take anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours so something to factor in when travelling with kids and add onto the flight arrival time. But if you can stand it, it is a good chance to see the sights on your way. The distance is also something to keep in mind if wanting to do any island tours as they normally all depart from Denarau Island and are often worth doing, but does turn into a long day. For our last trip we stayed at the Outrigger hotel for a friends wedding. This hotel is amazing and well organised with what it has to offer and how it is run, especially the kids club which was fantastic. The beach part itself was ok with the pool section being superior. They also had a spectacular spa on the hill which is worth treating yourself to. We did a fantastic tour on this trip on a speedboat and then village tour which went down as being my second favorite tour we have ever done in Fiji.

My first being a day trip to a small island Tivua Island which is a short boat ride from Denarau port. When staying at Denarau Island it is somewhat gated at the entrance and consists of the larger hotel chains, The Westin, Sofitel (on my future wish list), Hilton and more. When we stayed here we opted for the Westin which was also stunning and suited our budget for at that stage a family of four. Other people we went with stayed at the Hilton. Denarau Island always feels so central to things, close to the airport (20 min car ride) and right at the port where lots of tours take place from. The port area itself  has shops and restaurants that can provide further dining options. There is also an open air shuttle that goes around the hotels on Denarau and to the port at regular intervals which can give a good opportunity to check out other hotels and the port itself. With all tours they usually offer free pick up and drop off to hotels no matter where you are staying which is very handy.

The Denarau Island area is stunning and the resorts are often top of the line but in saying that they sometimes loose a bit of the authentic feel and become more like sterile townhouses. Luckily most places have beautiful foyers and grounds which more than make up for the hotel feel and some still offer bure accommodation which is my preference. Don’t get me wrong if it meant I could get to Fiji we would stay in any type of room anywhere!

With Island accommodation you have the benefit of beautiful hotels and the beaches are the best there is, clear and still. We find when we stay at the other sites we are more around the pool, whereas with an island we spend more time at the beach, this is also the same for my kids who aren’t the best swimmers in the world. With our most recent stay we flew direct from Adelaide to Nadi with Fiji Airways.

When we arrived we had a transfer through the Malolo Cat which took us from the airport to the port at Denarau Island. From the port we took the Malolo Cat to Plantation Island which took about an hour, the scenery is spectacular and you get a small taste of how many islands are actually out there. On arrival you are always greeted warmly, with song and cheering (this is the same everywhere), and can’t be beat. For our family of five, which is always fun trying to find budget conscience accommodation for, we stayed in a beachfront bure which could accommodate up to 6 easily and comfortably. The other people in our group opted for garden bures.

The Plantation Island website has little videos of the accommodation types so you can make an informed choice. The beauty of everything at Plantation Island is that it does family holidays really well, so all the accommodation can be easily changed to suit whatever number you may have. During our stay we did as much and as little as possible. Most days started at the beach and ended at the pool. There is a lot of beach activities that are complimentary and in abundance there, such as kayaks, waterpark (adult and kids), snorkeling gear, large inflatable blowups, small catamarans, and stand up paddle boards. As the ocean is very still, the kids could relax and try these things at their leisure, even my 6 year old who had never snorkeled, tried it and loved it, even right in the very depths of the middle of the ocean during a tour we took. These activities fill the days very easily and we also took with us a bucket and spade set that we then left on the island for other families to enjoy.

There were two pools we could use, another one was being renovated at the time, we mainly used the ‘kids’ pool as our little ones loved the water slide. During the day the kids also hired bikes from Bula Bikes which were very affordable (we paid $40 FJD for a bike for 5 days, cheaper at the next resort Musket Cove (10 minute walk). For our dinners we ate at the buffet in the main dining area every night but one. This was themed every night from traditional Lovo feast to Mediterranean, Asian, BBQ and more and was Price at 58 FJD per adult and they charged 19 FJD for my eldest son which is definitely reasonable for the amount he eats and the other two ate free! There was a massive selection each night and included dessert, we never went hungry and although some nights were better than others we still managed to find something to pile our plates with and leave full. Each night there was also some form of entertainment from traditional dancing, to fire dancing, to crab races which was a great way to end each night and we often stayed and watched as a family or just the adults if the kids opted for the nightly movie in the kids club. The kids club itself was very well run and my kids often wanted to go and do the activities that were listed on the daily activities board at some point within the day. They did things like tie die t-shirts which are a great keepsake ($20 FJD each), beach games, crab hunting, mini golf, general playing, they also had a jumping castle inside and indoor and outdoor playgrounds, and table tennis table. They also had multiple complimentary table tennis tables you could use within the main bar area. In terms of drink prices, a soft drink could set you back around 6FJD, local beer around 9.5FJD, wine 14FJD, and cocktails anywhere from 20-28FJD.

The resort had generous happy hour times for cocktails 4-6pm 2 cocktails for 28FJD and a beer and wine happy hour 8-9pm where a beer would be 6.5 FJD. The staff were all amazing and so kind, one waiter in particular was our savior and would always come find us for cocktail happy hour which was exactly the right time for us adults to have a drink! When we do go away on a holiday we don’t want to restrict what we eat and drink due to price, if mum or dad need a cocktail, we get it! We often keep an eye out for happy hours, or specials which help the budget stretch further and that all resorts offer. We have never found Fiji to be an expensive destination and most places will now put prices on their website for you to look at prior to your stay. There are definitely different levels of how much you can spend and it can depend on where you stay but most resorts now have different options within them tailored to suit all budgets. Which can be the same as most destinations in the world.

When we booked our holiday through Kaleidoscopic Travel the deal was for a set period, as with all deals, and we opted for March which was the end of their wet season, we were lucky to get perfect weather apart from one night it was really windy and wet (due to a cyclone near Vanuatu), but apart from that it rained for maybe 20 minutes most nights which brought a nice breeze with it. That is another benefit of an island, you often don’t have the harsh weather that the mainland can often get and Plantation Island is quite protected as its situated in a small bay. On departure our flight wasn’t till 3:30pm in the afternoon as we had to catch an early ferry at 8:45am, Plantation Island suggested to relax at their sister hotel, The Gateway hotel which was across the road from the airport. 

This was great as we could use their facilities free of charge and if we wanted to use their towels it was just 5FJD per towel, which we got a couple and shared. It was a great way to keep the kids entertained and cool for a few hours prior to going to the airport. One thing is certain we all had a fantastic time, even the members of my family that hadn’t been to Fiji prior, they were surprised at how picturesque it was and that you really could fall into Fiji time very easily and loose track of the days. We always get off the plane and instantly relax, the local people are the best we have encountered world wide and go out of their way to help and enhance your stay rather than hinder, compete or complicate your holiday. If they can’t help they often find out or point you in the right direction of someone that can. I think we have definitely reignited our love of the islands and all can’t wait to return, which is definitely not a matter of if but when!

For the latest Plantation Island deal visit - Kaleidoscopic Travel

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