Let’s talk about nudity. We’re all adults, right?
I wish I were one of those who could run around the place without clothes. How liberating would it be to not give a flying love handle what anybody thought? My only brush with being bare left me scarred. More on that soon, I first need to tell you why I’m bringing this up.
I’m in a remote part of Fiji, on a tiny adults-only island called Royal Davui. No, this isn’t a nudist colony, it’s a romantic escape with 16 luxury villas; essentially an island designed for couples.
The celebrity-style villas are all tucked away in their own pockets of tropical jungle overlooking the vast ocean. It’s all so so private, it’s the kind of place where it feels a little odd to go the effort of putting on clothes. Unless the International Space Station has some sort of super-zoom, it’s about as private as you can get.
But I just can’t bring myself to traipse around unrobed – it brings back a whole lot of bad memories.
* Inside Fiji’s most romantic, adults-only retreat
* Escape winter with New Zealand’s best hot tub holidays
* Japanese onsens: Five rules to follow
* How to find perfect moments on your Fiji (and other Pacific Island) getaways
* Learning to relax on Fiji time
I was on Italy’s Amalfi Coast and had just checked into a decidedly shonky hotel run by an ever-cantankerous elderly lady. She walked around, shouting and gesticulating wildly in Italian.
In the sweltering summer, I decided to take a shower as soon as we checked in. A few minutes later (no knock necessary) the landlady roared into the room – with two towels tucked under her arm. She made a beeline for the shower and threw open the door. There I was, jumping out of the shower. Instead of just playing it cool, I panicked, and grabbed the only thing nearby – the toilet roll – and frantically unrolled it to provide a bit of cover. It was, in hindsight, a very Mr Bean thing to do.
Instead of shutting the door, she started yelling at me. I expect it was because I was using up her precious one ply toilet tissue. I still don’t know.
I’m going to shelve that memory. It’s very different here. I could come up with a vast array of poetic adjectives to describe the island and tell you what a wonderful time I’m having while you’re back in New Zealand sheltering from an Antarctic blast. Yawn. Who really wants to hear that. Instead, I’m going to try a different approach. This is about you.
Royal Davui is one of those places for special occasions. Everyone here is celebrating something big. An anniversary, a big birthday, or a honeymoon. If you’re lucky enough to be in a position to splash some cash when one of these significant milestones come along, you will be looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here are six reasons Royal Davui is just that.
LIVE LIKE A ROCKSTAR
The resort sits on the south coast of Fiji’s main island, near Pacific Harbour. Most guests take the resort’s private plane (a small Cessna) which is met by a launch to take you to the island. What a welcome.
Once you arrive, you’ll be taken straight up to your private villa, knowing plenty of famous people have slept in the same bed – including a recent visit by a singing superstar. (I was sworn to secrecy, but ask around when you’re on the island, and you’ll soon find out.)
The villas are so big they have wings. The bedroom wing comes complete with a spa bath, with enough jet power to rival the average airliner.
The other wing has a lounge and a not-so-mini bar, stocked with unlimited beverages and freshly baked cookies. Dividing the two wings is a heated plunge pool. It’s the kind of place you don’t want to leave, which is why the resort can deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner to your room, so you don’t have to.
SNORKEL YOUR HEART OUT
When you do decide to venture out, the obvious place to start is the ocean.
The corals surrounding the island are some of the most vibrant I’ve seen, relatively untouched from coral bleaching. And with a thriving reef, comes a kaleidoscope of tropical fish.
The hotel runs a free, daily snorkelling tour, which takes you to the best spots depending on the tide.
If you can dive – and you have an equal amount of bravery and adventure running through the veins – the resort also offers one of the Pacific’s best shark experiences. In the outer lagoon, divers gather behind a wall on the seafloor and watch a feeding frenzy that includes tiger and bull sharks.
BECOME A CASTAWAY
The resort has a private sand bar a few kilometres away – and for two hours – you will become the world’s luckiest castaway.
The whole scene looks like it’s been designed in Photoshop; the golden sliver of sand is surrounded by a retina-bending hue of blues. The island has two chairs, an umbrella, a bottle of Champagne and a platter waiting for your arrival. You have two hours to swim, sunbathe or just relax, and it’s almost everyone’s highlight.
UNWIND AT THE SPA
Take my advice: you don’t want to skip this next step. I have never fallen asleep in a massage. Not remotely close to it. Except here, I woke facedown drooling like a labrador. We’re talking salivary stalactites. In a moment of panic, I tried to suck it all back in. Gravity won.
The therapists have many hours of training – and it shows. I’m not entirely sure how she managed to melt away my Oscar-worthy ability to overthink everything – but it worked – and I emerged fully relaxed.
The ambience certainly helps; the massage hut is tucked away in its own corner of the island overlooking the sea.
Holidays should be for indulging and the all-inclusive meals make that easy. From coconut pancakes at breakfast to seared scallops and crispy pork belly in the evening, the food is a celebration of all things local, with a fine-dining twist.
Thankfully, you’ll burn a few calories from swimming around the island because the dessert is unmissable, especially the praline peanut butter block. You have been warned.
EXPERIENCE LOCAL LIFE
Village visits have become a little cliche – they often feel like uncomfortable photo opportunities to have a gawk at local life. But this one is different. Most of the resort’s workers come from the nearby island of Beqa, where you’re taken for the village visit. Once on the island, you’ll walk to the local school – where all 50 kids gather to treat guests to a performance. The children dance, act and sing – and even prepare speeches for you. It is genuinely heartwarming.
If you don’t want to leave the island, culture comes to you with kava nights and village performances throughout the week.
So, with all that, you can decide if this tiny island is the right place to celebrate a big moment. After waking up overlooking the sea, heading out for some world-class snorkelling, followed by a drool-inducing massage and three-course dinner watching the sunset from the deck of your villa – it’s all pretty hard to beat.
A night at Royal Davui starts from $1775 per couple, including all meals. Transfers to the island start from $228 per person each way for a car and boat combo (four hours), or $299 for a private plane and boat (75 mins). See: royaldavuifiji.com
Air New Zealand flies daily from Auckland and seasonally from Wellington and Christchurch direct to Nadi. See: airnz.co.nz
The author’s trip was supported by Fiji Tourism, Royal Davui and Air New Zealand.