If you're planning a holiday with a little one (or more) in tow, discover why Fiji should be up the top of your bucket list.
Hassle-free travel, blissful relaxation, doting babysitters and a swim-up bar. All key ingredients for our first family getaway.
Combine that with beautiful weather, azure blue waters, and the irresistible warmth and friendliness of the Fijian people, and it all becomes very clear why so many Australian families keep going back. I certainly didn't need any more convincing.
Here's why you should choose Fiji for your next family getaway, plus a guide to my favourite five star resort on the Coral Coast, the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort.
It’s no secret that flying with a baby can be a challenge. Even under the best of circumstances, (i.e. business class and your own dedicated eau pair. Hmm.. I wish!) keeping your flight as short and direct as possible is a sanity-saver. Fiji is just a four hour flight from Sydney and that was a big tick for our first overseas holiday with an 8-month-old baby.
We loved our flights with Fiji Airways from the first Bula as we stepped on board. If your child is under 18 months, try to ensure you get one of the bassinets. Our baby happily kicked around then slept for a couple of hours, and before we knew it, we'd touched down in paradise.
There are an overwhelming number of resorts and hotels to make your home in Fiji. The first decision you need to make is whether to base yourself on the mainland (the island of Viti Levu) or venture further afield to the one of the island groups, like the the Mamanucas or Yasawas. While the outer islands have more beautiful beaches and typify the Fiji you see in postcards, for our first overseas trip with a baby we decided to stick to the mainland.
The resorts at Denarau – a manmade island enclave of 5 star hotels and a marina - are a popular option for families, as its just 20 minutes drive from Nadi airport. However, for a more of an authentic Fijian experience and a far superior beach, drive a little further south and you’ll arrive at the Outrigger Fiji resort on the Coral Coast. It’s an easy 1 hour and 15 minute journey from the airport and worth the extra mileage.
Set among 40 acres of exotic gardens on a reef-fringed beachfront location, it is designed to reflect a traditional Fiji village - with both traditional style bures and modern hotel rooms, 9 restaurants and bars, two pools, and plenty more. While not a budget option, this 5-star property really does have it all.
Nannies and Kids Club
Okay, let's not beat around the bush. While my husband and I were really looking forward to spending time with our son and splashing about in the family pool, we desperately needed a few quiet moments to ourselves as well. One of the most exceptional aspects of our stay at Outrigger was the outstanding Mei Mei or Nanny service on offer.
Our Mei Mei, Filori, was simply incredible. Our baby took to her straight away and we could not have felt more reassured leaving him in her care during the day, or while we went out to dinner during the evening. Filori typified the kind of service we received throughout our stay at Outrigger - so much warmth, passion and generosity, with nothing too much trouble. The icing on the cake? Gorgeous handmade presents and letters awaiting us each day when we returned to our bure. Our only gripe was not being able to bring Filori home with us!
For older children, the complimentary Kids Clubs - the Little Riggers for 3-7 year olds and the Beach Riggers for 8-12 year olds - also get rave reviews. I'm told that it's not unusual for there to be tears when its time to say goodbye.
So while your offspring are happily bonding with their new pals at Kid's Club, there are plenty of adults-only areas for you to indulge and relax.
Vahavu is Outrigger’s adults-only pool with a swim-up bar and bistro. Did I mention there is a swim-up bar? Needles to say, I became obsessed with this place and spent several hours reclining on a deckchair or floating blissfully around with a cocktail in hand and chatting away to fellow guests (be it honeymooners or other parents taking some respite from their kids). Vahavu is the perfect place to settle right into to 'Fiji time' ... because, really, why is there any need to rush?
Bebe Spa is another highlight, not least of all because it sits at the highest point of the resort and commands stunning views of the coral coast. My massage and milk bath overlooking the coastline, complete with a fruit platter, was simply heavenly. And be sure to return at the day's end at least once to catch the amazing sunset from hilltop Kalokalo Bar.
We were also compelled to visit Ivi, the adults-only fine dining restaurant, twice during our 6-night stay. The traditional Fijian dish, Kokoda – fresh raw fish with lime juice and coconut milk served in a coconut (which is basically Fiji’s version of ceviche) and prepared at your table - is a standout.
And if you’re feeling up to it, you can attend the cooking class with chef the next day to learn how to make it yourself. The staff will also gather together to sing you a beautiful farewell or anniversary/birthday/celebration song, which really tugs at the heartstrings and is such a beautiful touch to the overall experience. Bring some tissues!
One small word of warning – the food and wine is a little pricey. However, keep in mind, it is a fine dining restaurant in a 5-star hotel (which is also subject to very high taxes by the Fijian government), but certainly worth it for a special occasion. And there are plenty of other dining options if you're looking for a more casual and cheaper alternative.
A Butler with your Bure
Another added bonus of staying at Outrigger is their unique Talai butler service. Every afternoon at around 5pm, our ever-smiling butler Salote would appear with complimentary champagne and canapes for us to sip on before dinner as the sun was starting to set.
Being stretched out on our hammock overlooking the gorgeous gardens surrounding our Ocean Breeze Bure as the sun was starting to set was a tough moment to beat.
#OutriggerFoundersDay #Fiji Our illustrious Butlers are ready to share the Bula spirit and celebrate the gift of #Loloma on September 29th this month. A very special day for the Outrigger Family. #hospitality #love #sharing #spirit #warmth #together #welcome #familyvalues #wearefamily #hosts #butlers
Village Tours and Daily Activities
Outrigger is very committed to helping the nearby villages and runs a number of charity projects to give directly back to the community. Recent projects include building a new assembly hall and kindergarten at the local Conua School. Guests also have the opportunity to work on these 'voluntourism' projects and help make a difference directly. My husband and I spent a morning at the school and thoroughly enjoyed taking time out of the resort bubble and gaining a greater understanding of the local area and its people.
If you don’t feel like leaving the resort itself during your stay (the deckchairs and hammocks are remarkably comfortable), there is loads to do onsite. There is a free activity guide to pick and choose from each day, including water sports like snorkelling, reef walks, kayaking and waterpolo and other more unique activities like international crab racing, Fijian crafts or a kava ceremony. There is also an onsite gym, tennis courts and yoga and meditation classes. If you spend seven days here and get bored, you’re doing something wrong.
Like many who have visited the Outrigger before us and experienced authentic Fijian hospitality, we can't wait to go back. And perhaps next time, we'll combine it with a few nights at Outrigger's award-winning sister hotel, Castaway Island.
OTHER TOP TIPS:
- Stop at Nadi Airport Duty Free or a supermarket along the way and stock up on necessities like water and alcohol as it can be pricey buying it all at the resort – especially if you need to make up bottles of baby formula (You can also request a microwave for your room to help with sterilising and heating.) If you don’t want to stop on the way, you can always head into Sigatoka town during your stay. There is a bus for $1 that stops out of the front of the resort.
- If you’re looking for a baby-friendly mosquito repellent, wait until you get there. Pure Fiji have a fantastic natural lemongrass-scented repellent which works a treat (and smells amazing too!) You can buy it from the Outrigger shop. Or duty-free.
- If you can afford it and don’t have bus transfers included in your package, opt for a private transfer. With a baby, this was a godsend. It saved us time and they also provided us with a baby car seat (its legal to travel with a baby on your lap in Fiji if you do want to take a bus or a taxi, but we were pleased we had the seat). The Outrigger provide an outstanding transfer service or try one of the local operators such as Local Transfer and Tours or Mick's Fiji Tours for a cheaper option.
- Join the closed Facebook group Holidaying in Fiji if you need extra advice and tips or want to stay on top of the latest news from Fiji.
- Book your tickets, relax and enjoy!