Debbie Kessler

San Francisco, California Travel Agent

Bula! Welcome to Fiji!

Bula! Have you been to Fiji before? Yes? Welcome home, family!!

From the beautiful singing welcome of the trio of greeters in the airport arrivals hall at 5:30 a.m. to the teary farewell, with more singing, as we drive away from the resort, Fiji makes an indelible impression. The word Bula, used as both a greeting and a blessing, embodies the welcoming, embracing spirit of the Fijian islanders.

Authentic, remote, and stunningly beautiful, Fiji has something for everyone. Beach lovers will enjoy world-class diving, pristine strands of white sand and water sports. Adventure lovers can ride horseback to a secluded cove, kayak to an island for two with a picnic lunch and enjoy countless other adventures. 

Private island resorts come in a variety of family-friendly and adult-only styles, each immersing its guests in the wonderful Fijian culture, and providing amazing seafood, organic fruits and vegetables, and, of course, that contagious the Bula spirit. 

This was my third trip to this island paradise. On this visit, I spent a week at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort (JMC) on Savusavu. This private island resort is a one-hour plane ride from the main airport of Nadi (pronounced Nandi). Named after the son of legendary oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau, the resort is dedicated to preserving the ocean and environment while providing a five-star luxury, all-inclusive experience. The property has a full-time resident oceanographer and a PADI Dive Shop. It also offers an array of complimentary activities including, visits to small villages, rainforest/waterfall hikes, daily snorkeling excursions, and use of Hobie-cats, paddleboards, and kayaks.

Unlike many Fijian resorts that cater either to adults or families, JMC caters to honeymooners, families and groups alike, taking care to ensure that everyone’s needs are catered to seamlessly. Accommodations are in individual thatched-roof Bures, spaced with enough distance and landscaping to afford privacy. The dining room has separate sections for families and adults. 

For families, the resort provides one dedicated nanny for every child under 5 and one “buddy” for every five kids aged 6-12 years old. The Bula Club is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and provides educational activities, dining, music, childcare, short excursions within the resort, and much more. There is a swimming pool with a waterslide, a kiddy pool with a waterslide, and a separate pool for toddlers. A jungle gym, zip-line, trampoline, sandbox, and arts and crafts center also add to the fun and learning.

Honeymooners and adults can relax at a “quiet” pool. For more secluded romance, couples can book a private island for a few hours or the whole day, or a private dinner staged at their choice of locations around the resort. There’s also a relaxing spa with treatment rooms for two.

With 60 bures and a maximum of around 100 to 120 guests at any time, JMC is the perfect size to offer a wide range of activities and options while maintaining a small, intimate vibe. Staying at JMC or any of Fiji’s private island resorts, guests have ample opportunities to connect to the land and its welcoming culture. 

When people think of the South Pacific, Tahiti often comes to mind. But Fiji has direct flights from California and typically costs about 30 percent less.  I’m already planning my next trip to Fiji and would love to plan yours!

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