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Matanivusi Surf Resort 3.0

Vunaniu, Coral Coast, Viti Levu

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • An eco-friendly beachfront hotel in the Fijian rainforest 
  • Surfing excursions with knowledgeable staff instruction available
  • Free non-motorized water sports and a saltwater pool
  • Comfortable rooms have decks and easy access to ocean
  • Personable staff includes owners that live on-site
  • Pretty yoga studio surrounded by greenery
  • Daily happy hours and excellent cuisine that changes daily
  • Live music and memorable kava ceremonies
  • Free Wi-Fi in common areas

Cons

  • No air-conditioning in rooms, though there are fans
  • This section of beach is narrow and rocky in areas 
  • Romantics may be turned off by frequent guest interaction

Bottom Line

This three-pearl surfer hotel with 12 rooms and a 200-year-old banyan tree is not an easy place to get to -- and that's part of the draw. Environmentalist owners that live on-site created this comfortable yet attractive property that blends into its natural surroundings. Surfers can catch the best waves on this part of the coast via hotel-led excursions, while non-surfers can hang back and use the pool, non-motorized water sports, or mahogany yoga studio. Delicious meals are included in the rate and served in an airy dining room; in the evening, guests interact over candlelit communal dinners. Couples may prefer the Bedarra Beach Inn, which has a full-service spa and more romantic atmosphere.

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Scene

Eco-friendly, hidden gem property that's ideal for laid-back surfers

Owners Brian and Donna hired a surfer/architect from Australia to design the resort with as little impact to the vegetation as possible during construction. Eco-friendly practices are in place everywhere -- down to the waste management system using worms -- so environmentalists will especially appreciate staying here. The entire property is raised on a series of wooden platforms, and the few common areas consists of an outdoor pool, restaurant, and bar. Wood-planked walkways lead to the six bures (two rooms per bure) which are built between a creek and the beach, surrounded by a huge variety of tropical plants and fruit trees. Impossible to miss is the massive and awe-inducing 200-year-old banyan tree, adjacent to the sleek open-air yoga studio. 

During the day, surfers can go on excursions while non-surfers can make use of the kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and snorkel gear. The bar puts on happy hour in the late afternoon, and then the restaurant is transformed into dinner mode, which means one long candlelit communal table where guests along with the owners are served a three-course meal. Between the ambiance, guest and staff interaction, and natural rainforest setting, Matanivusi stands out among similar properties.

Location

About as far away from tourists as possible on Fiji’s popular Coral Coast 

Precise driving directions are necessary before arriving, as Matanivusi's remote location will certainly throw newcomers for a loop. After taking Queens Road (a rocky, main road) most of the way, travelers have to find the dirt road that veers off and continue a few miles even deeper into the rainforest toward the coast where a narrow driveway awaits. Of course, guests can also have the hotel arrange a private driver in advance. 

Note that this section of the island experiences significantly more rain than others, which could mean postponing surfing excursions. However, it also means lush tropical foliage. Guests with a car can access Kula Eco Park, golf courses, snorkeling and dive spots, as well as local markets and shops in the town of Sigatoka within an hour's drive. Restaurants and shopping in the town of Pacific Harbour are about 45 minutes away by car. There are no restaurants or shops in the immediate area, so it's best to come stocked with toiletries and snacks. 

Rooms

Colorful textiles and canopies add style to these otherwise simple, eco-friendly rooms

There are six separate two-unit bures with wood floors, angled wood-beamed ceilings, and large windows that let in natural light. Furnishings are minimal but well-presented, including beds with colorful floral covers and white fabric canopies that act as mosquito nets. Opposite the beds are coffee tables and two bean-bag chairs with multi-colored striped throw pillows. Each room has a ceiling and floor fan, bottles of Fiji water, and bath soap, but they lack air-conditioners, mini-fridges, and any tech features. Spacious bathrooms have walk-in showers, but guests need to bring their own shampoo and conditioner. The owners have added signs to remind guests to be gentle with water usage (filtered rain water) and the waste system, which is operated by hard-working worms. 

All rooms have back doors that lead to semi-private outdoor decks with built-in benches. Views are hindered due to vegetation that was kept intact during construction, but steps lead to the waterfront.

Features

Surf excursions and a calm lagoon for stand-up paddleboarding

The beachfront is more narrow than other Coral Coast resorts and guests should be careful of natural rock platforms mixed in with beige sand, in addition to sections of sharp coral. The resort hub includes a large deck with a saltwater pool and adjacent hot tub, as well as a handful of cushioned sun loungers and umbrellas that all face the ocean. Next to this is a volleyball net, plus an array of stand-up paddleboards, surfboards, and kayaks -- free for guests to borrow.

As surfing is a big attraction here, there are five boats available to take guests to nearby surf areas. The staff knows the best breaks depending on the time of year and weather, and for the proper skill level. For instance, 20 kilometers from Matanivusi is the world famous Frigate Passage -- one of the most sought after spots in Fiji. While many waves require a reasonable skill level, novice surfers can sign up for instruction lessons with qualified coaches.

Next to the 200-year-old banyan tree aptly named "Grandaddy" is a sleek mahogany yoga studio with yoga mats, blocks, and straps available for self practice at no charge. Occasionally there are yoga classes during the day or private sessions can also be arranged. There's no spa, but in-room massages are available. Staff often perform live music or cultural activities such as a kava ceremony. A variety of cultural excursions and on-site weddings can also be arranged. Wi-Fi is free in common areas, though it can be a little unreliable. 

Food

All meals included, but alcohol and snacks cost extra

Because of its remote location, all three meals are included in the room rate, and the menu changes daily. The restaurant team uses fruits and vegetables grown on the property and in the nearby villages, as well as fresh seafood from Suva harbor to prepare tasty dishes. Breakfast includes made-to-order options such as poached eggs and toast or banana pancakes, and guests can help themselves to coffee and tea. The lunch menu has a few different options, as does the three-course dinner. During the day, the main dining room is set up with individual tables, while dinner is turned into one long communal table where guests are encouraged to mingle with each other. Romantics can pay extra to have a private dinner under the banyan tree or closer to the ocean. The bar offers a wide range of wine, beer, and liquor, plus daily happy hour specials. 

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Address

Vunaniu, Coral Coast, Fiji

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