Matamanoa translates to ‘Eye of the strong wind’ in Fijian culture. Yet it was more of a soothing tropical breeze that filtered through the row of dancing palm trees on the beach at Matamanoa Island Resort. Still smelling of coconut oil from a recent massage, I had to remind myself that only a few hours earlier I was battling traffic towards a congested Sydney airport.
Having searched every island nation in the Pacific we found two things. Firstly, return flights (from Australia at least) rarely suit a weekend stay. Secondly, long messy transfers from the international airport to the idyllic outer island destinations eat away at valuable chillax time. Looking at all, and I mean ALL options, Matamanoa Island Resort in Fiji was the only feasible, semi-affordable and seemingly possible option.
Getting to Matamanoa Island
Matamano Island Resort offered three arrival options. The standard public ferry, a high-speed water taxi and lastly a helicopter. The ferry and water taxi departed from Denarau Marina and required a connecting transfer from the airport with significant wait times. With speed of the essence, we opted for the helicopter. This was only a 5-minute walk through the airport terminal! Within 30 minutes of landing in Fiji, we were approaching a small speck of land in a vast ocean that was to be our home for the next 2 nights.
Matamanoa Island Resort is the only resort on this small island. An island we could walk around in about 15 minutes. The helicopter touched down. The blades were still spinning while we hopped out and grabbed our bags from the rear compartment and made our way to the awaiting welcome party.
We were met by the laidback staff. They placed the obligatory Fijian lei around our necks before escorting us to our beachfront bure. The bure consisted of a king-sized bed, lounge area and small kitchen. The bure opened out to a deck with an exclusive-use plunge pool next to a well-shaded day bed. The beachfront bure was just that, right on the beach! A small strip of grass was all that was between us and the waves lapping at the sandy bank. The water looked very inviting and the offshore coral reef was a speckled maze beneath the water just waiting to be explored.
There was nothing better to get ourselves into holiday mode than a soothing massage. The spa was located in a bure on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The view, while difficult to admire face down on a massage table, created a relaxing vibe. The massage sorted out any kinks and stress from some long and hectic weeks of work. We were left supple and relaxed to make use of the plunge pool and daybed back at the bure.
The central communal area was a large traditional bure. A bar led out to a spacious deck with dining tables and lounges surrounding an infinity pool which overlooked the sea. The local Fiji Beer was cold and refreshing, the wine list offered a decent selection and the meals while lacking in great variety, catered to international guests. I recommend choosing the fish of the day which is freshly caught from the very water you overlook from your table.
The reef just off the beach offered a dazzling display of coral and tropical fish. The coral ran the entire length of the beach. Lobsters were spotted lurking in the shadows, parrot fish were gnawing at the coral and an entire submarine society was going about their day oblivious to us ‘terrestrials’ above. Although a few harmless white tip reef sharks seemed to be acting as security guards by keeping a watchful eye out.
A swift two-night visit meant that we sadly had to return from whence we came. A helicopter appeared on the horizon to signal it was time to stroll to the landing pad. Less than 15 minutes later we were at Nadi International airport ready to board our flight home.
I can definitely recommend a trip to Matamanoa Island Resort. While it doesn’t cater for children it allows a short enough stay to perhaps get some trusted babysitters for the long weekend. There is plenty to do should you want to, yet you won’t feel like you’re missing anything if you lay on your daybed all day and read, or better yet, sleep.