Yaqona is Fiji’s national drink made from the powdered root of the pepper tree. It is prepared and offered in a social ritual known as the kava ceremony. Once reserved for chiefs and elders, now commonly served to visitors to welcome then as honored guests at local villages as well as resorts, it is also used for special occasions to seal treaties, close business deals and christen babies.
To try this very popular hand-mixed brownish beverage, request a “low tide” or small serving. If you are feeling enthusiastic, asking for a “high tide” will get you a full cup – to be downed in one draft. And you will certainly be invited to stay for more rounds of drinks until the wooden tanoa bowl is empty.
Although, kava is non-alcoholic with a mild flavor, it does leave a slight tingling on the tongue. Over the years, I have participated in this ceremony many times in many locations throughout Fiji. Personally, I think it is an acquired taste.
Once a week, the Outrigger offers a Fijian lovo or feast with foods cooked the traditional way in an underground oven. Guests are invited to observe the unearthing of the contents for that evening’s buffet dinner which ma include roasted meats and root vegetables such as dalo or taro and tavioka or cassava.
The meal is accompanied by an authentic meke with traditional songs and dances performed by local villagers. At this resort, it is also possible to view a firewalking ceremony by fire walkers from the island of Beqa once a week.
Fifteen minutes down the road along the Coral Coast, we arrive at the the award-winning beachfront Outrigger Resort with a distinctly Fijian look and feel to it.
aerial view of "village"
The aerial view from the elevated lobby level reveals a village concept to its layout. Traditional Fijian thatched roof bures or bungalows have been set around the central lagoon swimming pool in lush tropical gardens.
exterior view of bure
The interiors are decorated in natural materials with ceilings covered in hand-painted tapa cloth. The nightlyTalai butler service brings champagne and canapes to be enjoyed at each sunset .
Getting married in a foreign country can be fairly simple or nearly impossible.
Fiji makes it very easy for foreign visitors wishing to have both their wedding and honeymoon in an idyllic tropical paradise. Legal requirements are straightforward and reasonable with a short processing time.
Resorts are prepared to coordinate and cater arrangements for 2 or 200 with a myriad of choices for location and style of wedding. The bride and groom may choose a traditional church, modern chapel, lush garden setting or a sandy beach.
Modern Chapel at Inter-Continental
Traditional Church at Sofitel
Couples may elect to have a white wedding or opt for a Fijian ceremony with both clothed in tapa costumes. The bride makes a dramatic entrance as she is transported to the wedding site by outrigger canoe and escorted by Fijian warriors. The couple can also be serenaded by a village choir and served a traditional Fijian lovo feast afterwards.
The sleek and elegant Navo fine dining restaurant offers spectacular views overlooking the lagoon and the mystical island of Navo directly offshore. Inside you can watch as an array of the finest food creations are prepared by chefs in the glass-walled show kitchen.
My recommendation is to reserve a table for two on the outdoor terrace with an unobtructed view of the ocean that you and your dining companion can enjoy together. Bon appetit!
Fiji is ideal for couples seeking all the ingredients for a honeymoon, anniversary or romantic getaway.
If you are still craving a little canoodling after the Tropical Beach Massage and the Essence of Love Ritual (see Days 4 & 5), you and your significant other can snuggle up togther in one of the Orbit Love Pods found around the adults-only infinity edge pool. (At this time, they are available first-come, first serve at no charge. If they become very popular, this may change).
Adjust the canopy to find the perfect ratio of sunlight and seclusion. Take a dip in the horizon pool and enjoy views of the glistening ocean beyond.
The friendly and attentive staff will be happy to bring you moist towelettes and cool beverages. And snacks and meals are available all day from the adjacent Toba Bar and Grill.
Just relax, everything you need is here. If not, just ask.
You will discover the rooms have something a little extra. There is a large, deep bathtub on each terrace or balcony along with a daybed. Request that the Housekeeping Department prepare an in-room service – one of their unique Cleopatra Bath Rituals – for you while you are out at dinner.
Cleopatra Tub on Terrace
Return to scented oil, soft candlelight, a soothing cd playing. A heavy canvas curtain has been drawn and secured for privacy. Slip into the warm water infused with coconunt oil, coconut milk, vanilla, honey and sprinkled with flower petals. Thick towels, a comfy robe and slippers await you along with water simmering for your chai tea.
It is a luxurious way to end your day and slide into sweet dreams. Cost a mere FJ$60, approximately US$30.
The Essence of Love version for couples includes fresh tropical fruits and a bottle of French champagne. Very reasonable at FJ$110, or US$ 55.
Everything gravitates back to the sand and sea here, back to that incredible beach.
Of course, this world class resort has its serene Spa Inter-Continental offering a full menu of exotic treaments and private rooms. If you have been “waiting to exhale”, I recommend that you take advantage of the location and schedule the Tropical Beach Massage instead.
Relax in one of the draped beach cabanas, caressed by the ocean breezes while a therapist gives you a 50 minute Fijian Bobo healing massage flowed by a 10 minute mini facial. Ah, it’s heaven.
The cost – FJ$145, approximately US$75.
The experience – priceless.
Shuttle over to the adjacent Natadola Bay Golf course for your 7 a.m. tee time. This 18 hole, par 72 course was designed by world class Fijian golfer Vijay Singh and boasts breathtaking ocean views.
Clubhouse & Carts
Golf pro Charlie took me on a quick golf cart tour to Hole #4 which runs parallel to the beautiful beach while Hole #6 turns inland as one of the most challenging at par 5 ( if you’re lucky). I lunched at the Clubhouse and spoke to several golfers. They all enjoyed the gorgeous albeit slightly windy course.