Island Time

Fiji’s Likuliku Lagoon Resort charms visitors with its welcoming service and leisurely pace

By: By Monica Poling

The Details

Likuliku Lagoon Resort
Location: Within Fiji’s Mamanuca archipelago, just 16 miles from Nadi International Airport
Rates: From about $820 per night (meals included)
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Watch Likuliku Resort staff sing to guests

Do you have a boyfriend back home?" Flo, my server, asked me as she cleared away a plate that once held the best tempura cod I’d ever eaten. I’d only been at the Likuliku Lagoon Resort a few short hours, but I was already on a first- name basis with most of the staff, and had a working knowledge of many of their personal stories.

Guests can stay in land-based or overwater bungalows. // (c) Monica Poling
Guests can stay in land-based or overwater bungalows.

I was enjoying a very late lunch at Fijiana Restaurant, the heartbeat of Likuliku. We were on island time, so the staff didn’t seem to mind when I asked if it was too late to get something to eat. Instead, the kitchen crew sang Fijian songs while I dined, and the servers set to the task of getting to know me better.

I could have been at lunch on time — I’d arrived at the resort early enough. My morning, however, was filled with a series of difficult decisions. Should I jump in the ocean beyond my private
patio, take a dip in my personal plunge pool or just lay back, enjoying the stunning lagoon views from my daybed?

My patio had an unobstructed view of Likuliku’s claim to fame, the 10 bures that were Fiji’s first overwater accommodations (the resort’s 35 other bures are steps from the ocean or set amongst coconut trees). After enjoying both the ocean and my pool, the lure of the daybed proved to be too great, and I fell asleep as ocean breezes wisped around me.

The restaurant was nearly empty when I arrived. This is an adults-only resort, so most of the guests were off enjoying time together, privately. At first, since I was still ramped up to Los Angeles time, a leisurely lunch alone felt strange, decadent even. Soon though, I got caught up in the moment, listening to the staff sing while watching the sun glint off the ocean. By the time dessert arrived, I learned that Flo wasn’t in a relationship, and sometimes she felt homesick for her family back in Nadi.

After lunch, I faced more tough decisions: Should I go snorkeling, have a massage or participate in the resort-planned boat trip to the neighboring Shell Village? I was too relaxed for group activities, so I opted for a massage and another quick dip in the ocean.

As I set off, Flo handed me a few pieces of bread.

"For the fish," she told me.

In the water, I was grateful for her foresight, as hundreds of striped fish, begging for something to eat, surrounded me. At first, the attention was a little overwhelming, making me afraid to walk in any direction for fear of stepping on my new friends. I later learned those relentless little "sea pigeons" are called Sweet Lips.

The afternoon extended into a series of idyllic activities, such as a Fijian massage, snorkeling, sipping on tropical drinks at the waterfront bar watching the sunset as Fijians, in native costume, performed
a traditional torch-lighting ceremony. And dinner, an all-you-can-eat buffet extravaganza, was even more fabulous than lunch.

Afterward, I was invited to see one of the overwater bures. The tide was low and the bures have specially designed lights so we could clearly see where the reef drops off into the ocean. Beneath, a shark was patrolling the edge of the reef while a symphony of wildlife played below us — a sting ray floated past as shrimp and squid scuttled out of his way. We found ourselves entranced by our own private aquarium and, before we knew it, nearly two hours had passed.

Back at my bure, I find myself faced with the final decision of the day. Am I really too full to try one of the homemade macadamia nut cookies the staff had left me?