Charming bures have thatched roofs, tea/coffee, and showers
Tons of cultural activities for all ages
Calm water suitable for kids to swim
Live entertainment some nights, including fantastic Polynesian shows
Outdoor pool with adjacent hot tub
One bar and buffet restaurant (meal plans recommended)
Free non-motorized water sports, plus segway, jet ski, and flyboard rentals
Indoor and outdoor spa for massage treatments
Expect electricity and running water issues
No air-conditioning or mini-fridges in the rooms
Outdoor pool is not very inviting
Limited daily transfers
No TVs and Wi-Fi is rare (pro for some)
Robinson Crusoe Island Resort is a beachfront value property ideal for travelers seeking a true (read: rustic) Fijian experience. Located on a private island, the hotel has 16 charming stand-alone units, as well as dorm rooms with shared bathrooms for backpackers. The calm sea is suitable for kids, as are the daily cultural activities -- especially on days when the island receives an influx of day-trippers who partake in a packed schedule crescendoing with a stellar Polynesian show. Be prepared for dodgy electricity, and come stocked with a case of water incase the faucets are experiencing issues. Also note that there are no TVs and rarely Wi-Fi. Another budget-friendly option with a more peaceful environment is Bounty Island Resort, but it's not on its own island.
Rustic budget resort with extensive activities for leisure travelers
Guests must take a boat transfer to this private 25-acre island. Once on the boat and through a lagoon, the island pops into view and the captain will instruct everyone to scream “Bula!” in response to the staff's welcome song. The island is bare bones in terms of comforts and technology (water and electricity are often on the fritz) -- so it's best for those interested in unplugging from electronics. In addition to the beach area, there are water sports and several free daily activities. Guests and staff (who live on the island) interact often, including local kids who are great at befriending visiting children. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, however, the peaceful environment is broken up by groups of day-trippers. Staff perform double duty on these days, addressing their normal resort duties before switching into entertainers. While buffet lines are longer these two days, they end with an impressive Polynesian show. Overall, it's a lively, authentic setting, but guests may tire of the unreliable plumbing and electricity.
A minimally stocked private island reached by two boat departures per day
Robinson Crusoe is a private island an hour's drive south from Nadi International Airport. Most guests will contact Robinson beforehand to arrange transportation, as it provides pickup at a number of hotels and resorts in Nadi, as well as farther south along the Coral Coast. The hotel offers two pickups per day (10 a.m. and 5 p.m. when Oyster visited), and the boat ride through a lagoon takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the boat and weather. If this transfer is missed -- as is common for those who drive themselves and get lost -- it will require a phone call for someone to come all the way back, which could take time. Once settled on the island, expect to have little in the way of essentials, other than food and drink from the restaurant and bar; it's worth stocking up on snacks, toiletries, and bottled water before the trip.
Two private room categories, but expect unstable electricity and slow-trickle solar showers; dorms also available
Private rooms feature authentic Fijian decor, including natural wood floors and furnishings (some with thatched roofs) and local textiles. Though there are no mini-fridges or air-conditioners, these rooms come with a fan, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and a bottle of water -- the water is supposed to be replaced each day but this is not always consistent. Windows do not have screens, but wooden slats open/close to keep light and bugs out through the night. Arrivals are welcomed with fresh flowers and rooms are cleaned daily.
The Island Lodges are tucked in the gardens and have a king-size bed or two singles, an indoor shower, and a private deck -- some have hammocks. The pale yellow Bure Levus are traditional, stand-alone structures that have thatched roofs and hobbit-like doors that require bending down to get in. These also have private outdoor bathrooms; the walk-in showers and faucets, like the electricity, don't always seem to work, though (bottled water comes in handy).
The Bure Lai Lai’s have a single bed but shared bathroom facilities. The dormitory is a two-story structure: the downstairs Tribal Dorm has 20 beds and the upstairs Aqua Dorm has 14 beds. Dorm beds have mosquito nets, and the rustic, shared bathroom facilities are next door.
Pretty beach and free water activities, plus a restaurant and bar, outdoor pool, spa, and cultural shows
This island has a big beach near the hub, along with rockier, more narrow beaches that can be accessed through sandy paths. Guests can explore the island, for instance to shell hunt, and staff will also give tours. The outdoor pool is not a notable feature, as it sits above ground and looks dated; while there's an adjacent hot tub and areas of shade, it lacks lounge chairs. Non-motorized water sports are free to borrow, and there are a few kid-friendly floats in the shallow part of the water. When day-trippers come to the island, a couple brings Segways, jet skis, and flyboards for visitors to rent.
As for cultural activities, there are plenty per day, such as turtle feedings, crab races, cooking demonstrations, volleyball matches, wood carving, and kava ceremonies. Twice a week are the standout Polynesian shows featuring history lessons, traditional dancing from several islands in the South Pacific, and fire and knife performers who are truly outstanding.
Meals are simple, buffet-style presentations that might include traditional barbecue lovo with fresh fish caught from coral reefs, along with rice, sweet potatoes, fresh fruits, and vegetables from village suppliers. Alcoholic beverages are not included in the meal plan, but prices for beer, wine, and basic cocktails at the bar are reasonable. Water is not drinkable on the island so it's best to come stocked with a case.
There are indoor and outdoor massage areas, and guests may be given a free 15-minute massage on arrival. Wi-Fi is either very slim or not working at all -- in fact, sometimes the power is out for hours at a time.
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