Hot news flash from the Coconut Wireless is that I have found a Garden of Eden private resort in Northern Fiji! Matangi is a luxury, adults-only resort and a perfect romantic escape in the South Pacific.
Arrival in Matangi
My arrival onto Matangi’s private resort with welcoming voices, acoustic guitars and warm smiles was perfect. I immediately felt uplifted. As I checked in with my fresh coconut milk straight from the shell with a rich red hibiscus flower, I could feel the serenity and enchantment of this very private, exclusive and luxurious island. I could hear the local rooster with his harem of bantam hens with the many cute little chicks trailing behind. I could see the orange dove and colourful kingfishers each with their distinctive calls. The little local village goat was nearby and throughout the resort were gardens that were full of blossom, fragrance and dotted with artistic touches.
The family owners and local staff are genuinely welcoming and have a fascinating history on the island. I was told that the island belongs to the Douglas family and has been in the family for five generations. Frederick was the first family member trying to make his fortune in the sandalwood and cotton trade in the 1870’s. He started a family love story in Fiji marrying a Fijian princess- Adi Matilda Marrama Ni Kai Viwa and starting the family fusion with the local Fijian people. The descendants still own and care for the island and resort.
It was a joy meeting the family on the island. Tom and Chick (Chick and her sister are current owners of the island) stay for 3 months every year and after stumbling onto their private bures I was warmly welcomed for a chat. Christine is a family manager on the island and is responsible (with her team), for those amazing gardens. She told me how she went to school with all the locals and how her father was an early ecologist looking after injured turtles and other sea life. It’s an amazing weaving of families in an intricate and harmonious blend.
Life in a Bure
After checking into the beach bure I could have spent many hours relaxing on the swinging daybeds listening to the coral windchimes curtaining us with privacy. The rooms are upgraded and exquisitely decorated in a bohemian luxury style, with furniture often made by the resident furniture maker. However, there are also many activities to choose from and I found myself unable to resist the blissful choices offered each day.
In the twilight hours, the outdoor shower under the stars was one of the highlights for me. While showering, I could listen to the local bird life and watch the sunset curtain the end to another spectacular day. The accommodation choices are varied and quite individual. You can choose from beach view, beach front or the tree houses. All the accommodation is wonderful, but the tree houses are very special and the view from them is spectacular. Roomy, with outdoor spa, sitting room, bedroom and outdoor shower.
Matangi’s restaurant is outstanding. The three chefs Sharon, Vika and Taione’s creations are simply sensational. It was international food at a very sophisticated level, beautifully presented, great choice and often fresh produce from the garden. Food is served by the staff whose gracious service and smiling faces were a testament to the wonderful atmosphere on the island.
Matangi Underwater Guide
Tim was often my guide during my stay here and is a wealth of knowledge about his island home. He took us snorkelling every day and made sure that I always had everything I needed around the resort. I have not seen coral of that beauty snorkelling for 20 years. The huge plate corals, brain and soft corals, with every colour you can imagine. Schools of fish that were sometimes so abundant that I thought they might be circling back and coming around again! I saw turtles, clams and I applaud the resorts regeneration programs in place around the home reef.
They have teams of divers who have cleared any predators like crown of thorns starfish, and they are seeding any reefs damaged by cyclones. The outer reefs are exactly as you imagine a coral reef should be. The resort takes you to these outer reefs as a complementary activity and I haven’t seen that in 20 years either! The different sites cover kilometres of reef, so it’s an unending treat. Generously, two snorkelling trips are offered each day. Local Horseshoe Bay can also be accessed with a private picnic and bottle of wine to complete your idyllic stay. Other complimentary spoiling includes daily washing and ironing of your laundry.
Every day I learned intriguing stories that were heart-warming. During my stay, an artist from the Lau islands Illiesa Latu has returned as a weaver and woodcarver to the island. He crosses the generations and continues the work of his grandfather who did the initial weaving and woodcarving at the resort. He is continuing his grandfather’s path using his artistry to create even more beauty on Matangi. He is happy to show his weaving techniques and can be shown any picture and weave it from coconut fibre. He told me that they put the leaves into a lovo to soften them, beat them to a pulp, then roll the fibre on their thighs. The final step is braiding the strands together to make the weaving rope. He is redefining his grandfather’s work and is proud of his islands group being able to make traditional war clubs, tanoas and continue their tradition of weaving.
Exquisite massages, meandering island walks, visiting the village and romantic private dinners on the oceanfront blended together to soothe those back home workday stresses.
My final farewell as our boat swept through the bay again for an encore farewell put the finishing touches on a perfect stay. Matangi Private Island Resort is Fiji at its luxurious best.
Written by: Kim Ward
Kim started her travel adventures as a backpacker travelling through Asia before starting work as an International flight attendant with Qantas Airways. She met her wonderful husband flying and they continue their travels for several months a year. She is a freelance travel writer and teacher and is always looking forward to the next adventure!