We recently enjoyed a winter break in Fiji and stayed on Mana Island Resort in the Manamuca Islands for the first time. On approach via South Sea Cruises transfer from Port Denarau, the island looked like all Fijiian islands – lush and inviting!
The jetty on the south beach was being re-built during our stay, so it was a little precarious as we carefully picked our way along, before sitting in the ‘waiting room’ to await our guide to reception.
At over 120 hectares, Mana Island Resort is larger than our previous island experiences on Castaway and Tokoriki and the size of the island has both pluses and minuses.
On the upside, it means that privacy is assured and very little sound – other than the sound of the waves – ever permeated our deluxe ocean view bure on the North Beach. Like all Fijian resorts, Mana was full of children having a ball, but the scattered nature of the accommodation means that sound is never an issue.
Another positive (!) is the amount of walking needed to reach the restaurants and other facilities, like the spa … at least you can justify the amount you eat! However, as the a la carte restaurant and oceanfront bar are on the South Beach, you need to allow about 15 minutes to walk to dinner, depending on the location of your bure. Apparently, honeymoon bures come with a golf buggy … perhaps on the assumption that honeymooners will be getting their exercise another way!
Our bure had a wonderful tropical feel, two queen-size beds and a divan and was light and bright, with efficient air-conditioning. It was a duplex bure, meaning we shared the expansive deck, but as we were travelling with friends, this was a bonus. The view from the deck, which was equipped with lounges and table and chairs, stretched across the verdant tropical gardens to the beach and was pure holiday heaven. There were no sound issues, despite the common wall of the duplex.
The desk area was large enough to work comfortably, however, once again the issue of Wi-Fi access raised its ugly head … yes, you can purchase internet packages, but there are no hotspots in the resort – not even in reception, so you have no option other than to make your own arrangements as we did (thank you, Vodafone Fiji) or pay resort prices.
As ever, one of the most wonderful aspects of a holiday in this tropical paradise is the Fijians themselves – smiling, happy and willing to help, so long as you remember that pretty much everything happens in ‘Fiji time’!
The resort has a range of accommodation, comprising deluxe ocean view bures like ours, honeymoon bures, beachfront bures, hotel-style ocean view rooms, split-level oceanfront suites and island bures.
There are two pools – one for families and an infinity pool for adults, located beside it. The Voli Voli Café near the family pool is great for snacks and light lunches and coffee and the adjacent Pool Bar has an amazing view of the ocean and nearby islands.
The Mamanuca Restaurant is the resort’s casual dining option and the venue for the daily breakfast buffet, BBQ lunch and dinner buffets. The Lounge Bar is part of this area and is the site of evening entertainment.
The appropriately named South Beach Restaurant is on the other side of the island, and offers a more extensive menu and a beachfront bar just made for sitting back and relaxing with a cocktail or two.
Another dining option is the backpacker accommodation further along South Beach, which offers casual dining and nightly entertainment.
Like all Fijian islands, the snorkelling in the warm tropical water is a wonderful experience, but unlike most resorts, guests can only sign out equipment for a day at a time, which for us meant a long trek back from the other side of the island at the end of every day. When we asked why we couldn’t hold on to the gear until the last day of our stay, we were told it was because they didn’t have enough equipment for all guests on the island. In our opinion, this is a surefire way of annoying guests who may decide a 15 minute walk each way – twice a day – from the northern side of the island isn’t worth the effort. Possibly a money-saving decision – but a poor one, we think.
Mana Island Resort is a popular wedding destination – and also attracts multi-generational holidays … one night there was a group of 40 or more celebrating an 80th birthday and we saw a couple of wedding parties.
All in all, it is a resort that wears many hats and is suited to many holiday needs. Probably the only question that really needs to be asked is would we go back? Despite some minor niggles, the answer is most definitely yes. Mana Island Resort more than provided the essentials for an island holiday: sun, sand, sparkling water, great accommodation, food that caters to most tastes – and a decent cocktail list!
– Lisa Monk
Lisa is a writer and editor who has travelled extensively with her husband and sons, both when her boys were small and now they are grown!