By all means, savour the Fijian welcome as you step into the arrivals hall at Nadi International Airport, but don’t dally too long. The magic of Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands is waiting for you. Twenty islands make up this majestic string of isles jutting out of translucent and unbelievably blue waters. Some of the islands are uninhabitable (as the Pacific Ocean covers the smaller islands at high tide), but there are many that you can visit.
Head To Paradise, Do Not Pass Go
Nadi offers cultural diversity, sublime beaches and lush gardens but if you’ve glimpsed the glorious Mamanuca chain of islands, you’ll be itching to get there.
Port Denarau, less than 10 kilometres west of Nadi, is your gateway to the Mamanuca Islands. You’ll find the islands busy with tourists year-round – a testimony to their magnificence. You can opt to stay overnight in this paradise or be part of the throng of day trippers.
Malolo is the largest of the Mamanuca Islands and is home to two villages and an inspiring hillside trek which rewards hikers with panoramic views. The smallest of the island resorts is South Sea Island and it is said you can circle the island in three minutes. In between these are a range of different shaped and sized islands with a variety of experiences on offer – from world-class surfing to snorkelling adventures. The style of accommodation is also diverse, ranging from upmarket resorts to the backpacker venues favoured by those who like their beach escapes with a side order of party fun.
But the islands do all share one thing in common – long stretches of flawless white sandy beaches and those wonderfully inviting turquoise waters.
It’s fitting that a good legend goes hand in hand with such an impressive location. The story of Mamanuca, and the birth of Fiji itself, starts with the magical box Katonimana – also known as the Box of Blessings.
The tale tells of warrior Chief Lutunasobasoba who arrived in Fiji in 1500 BC from northern Egypt. He carried with him this magical box which fell off the boat during a storm while passing through the chain of islands. The chief ordered that it never be retrieved as it was the will of the gods. Legend says that it has since brought blessings to the villages in the area and to those who visit them.
A visit to the Mamanuca Islands offers you the chance to spoil yourself in one of the world’s most idyllic locations. However, the islands’ beauty isn’t just typified in the scenery. The local Fijians are as warm and welcoming as the surroundings. Their customary bula welcome is just the beginning and islander hospitality will cheer you throughout your stay. Bula means ‘life’ and as an everyday greeting in Fiji it wishes the recipient happiness and good health.
Fiji On Film
Many have been inspired by the exquisiteness of Fiji and the Mamanuca islands. This tropical haven has been used as the setting for many films and TV shows. The most famous is Monuriki Island which played a starring role in the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away. Monuriki, as it’s portrayed onscreen, is uninhabited but because of its silver-screen prominence it has become popular with the island hopping day crowd.