Sonaisali Island Resort is only 30 minutes drive from Nadi Airport, so itâ€™s easily one of the most convenient resorts in Fiji. No ferry trips or lengthy transfers, and you still get the exclusivity and privacy of an island resort. Bonus.
Itâ€™s also a very convenient base from which to explore Nadi, the Coral Coast and the surrounding islands.
Our ocean-view rooms look out on the Mamanucas, which weâ€™re about to sail around shortly after checking in, on Sonaisaliâ€™s catamaran, the Cagi Malua.
As we set sail, there is seriously not a cloud in the sky. Our skipper Tevita tells us weâ€™re welcome to go out the back, on the roof, wherever.
As we soak up a few rays, the skipper puts out a couple of lines, hoping to catch a fish or two on the way out. About halfway to the Mamanucas we get a (rather large) nibble, which one of the kids is invited to help reel in.
After about 30 minutes of exertion, the fish makes it onto the bottom steps of the boat before breaking free and disappearing â€“ followed closely by the skipper as he desperately tries to catch it. The one that got awayâ€¦
The kidsâ€™ disappointment is soon forgotten however as we reach the first reef, and first opportunity to jump of the roof of the boat.
This very pretty reef is not far from Plantation Island, and itâ€™s teaming with life. Colourful fish of all description surround us in unbelievably clear water.
BBQ Lunch is served before we set sail around the islands to a deeper snorkeling spot near Castaway Island. Here the little nomads practice their free diving abilities, daring each other toÂ try and touch the bottom of the seabed.
Itâ€™s beer oâ€™clock somewhere in the world so we decide to kick back with a Fiji Bitter and enjoy the view as we sail around the remaining Mamanucas and back to the resort.
The eveningâ€™s entertainment is a display of fire walking â€“ this is something special â€“ a skill unique to the nearby villagers.
And dinner for the night is a fantastic curry buffet that makes it hard not to over-indulge.
On our second day at the resort we decide to take things easy and relax, poolside. Some of us had possibly a wee bit too much sun and not enough sunscreen yesterday and so are happy to spend the entire day in the pool, with the odd trip to the pool bar for a slushy/beer.
I should add here that the lunch menu at the resort is great. Lots of choice for kids and a good mix of styles for the grownups â€“ everything from chicken and cashew nuts to hamburgers and pizza. And the bar serves a selection of Tapas in the afternoons.
Dinner for the grownups is a bit of a treat on our second night. While the kids choose from the extensive kidsâ€™ menu, we grown ups sneak off to the Plantation Restaurant for a bit of silver service.
The restaurant is lined with historical photos of Fiji, which are explained on the menu. Our exuberant host, Saula, gives us an even better explanation â€“ in fact a fairly detailed history of Fijian settlement taking us from British settlement through to independence (and his familyâ€™s involvement along the way).
In fact the food is only surpassed by the service â€“ attentive, efficient and entertaining.
On Day Three we decide to head out again for a snorkel, this time headed (at high speed) on the dive boat to Tavarua Island, another beautiful reef for us to snorkel and the kids to practice free diving in (seriously) crystal clear water.
Our last afternoon is spent kayaking around the island before weâ€™re treated to another display of singing and dancing by the local villagers. Itâ€™s a pleasant and relaxing end to our Fiji sojourn.