Barefoor Fiji Resort Luxury At Its Finest
If the button-cute private island, ivory-white shores and pure blue sea at casual, adults-only sanctuary Royal Davui Island Resort Fiji don't knock your dive socks off, then the adrenaline-rush scuba action will. We love the laid-back pool scene, tree-entwined outdoor restaurant and hedonistic happy hour for cocktail sessions.
At the hotel
Spa, watersports centre with dive shop, CD and DVD library, boutique, free WiFi in main bar/restaurant and library, gardens. In rooms: iHome music system, pillow menu, minibar with cookies and cakes, Fijian coffee, Jacuzzi spa bath, open-air shower, Pure Fiji toiletries, private deck with plunge pool.
Our favourite rooms
All bales are spacious, modern and embrace the outdoors, with Jacuzzi spa baths, louvred roofs, glass doors giving onto sun-decks, and plunge pools. For sunset sea views opt for a seductive Premium Plunge Pool Villa on the west side of the island. Spa fiends may prefer the Island Pool Villas nearest the spa, best for access to the southern beach. For sensational 360° lagoon views and a generous outdoor dining deck, you can't beat the romantic Royal Davui Pool Suite.
Wander down the steps from the restaurant, and you'll reach the curvy, palm-fringed outdoor pool, surrounded with shady loungers (just run the SOS Emergency Cocktail flag up the pole if you're feeling thirsty). Soak up rays and sea views, safe in the knowledge that the only likely stress here is of the coconut-falling-on-head variety.
Bring clothes that can double as a fancy dress costume, as Davui likes to throw a party (during Smith's stay Halloween turned the bar into a sea of flamboyant vampires and ghouls). On a practical note, you'll find a torch, mossie repellent and a woven beach bag in your room, so no need to bring your own.
Free activities include use of kayaks, catamarans, paddle boards, snorkelling gear and guided island snorkelling tours (diving costs extra).
The hotel is a romantic adults-only escape, so leave the kids at home.
Royal Davui strives for 'responsible luxury', serving regional produce to support the local community. Bedroom were built from sustainable timber and have been positioned to avoid cutting down old-growth trees, with all wastewater recycled to use on the garden. The hotel is also mindful of impacting on the surrounding reef eco-system, which is a marine sanctuary.
Flaunting outdoor wooden decks embraced by a majestic, ancient banyan tree, the Banyan Restaurant & Bar perches on a platform near reception and is airy, inviting and informal. You can dine undercover at the back of the space, but we reckon it's more atmospheric eating alfresco. Sea views come as a standard, with modern Pacific dishes to match, including local, seasonal produce and lip-smacking kokoda - Fiji's answer to ceviche.
Occupying the beating heart of the restaurant, the Banyan Bar is a funky, tropical affair, surrounded with stools for sociable sips and flanked by lounging sofas and chairs. Freshen up with a Banyan Punch, or try a how-very-dare-you Kava Bloody Mary, guaranteed to make your lips go numb. Bands often play at night, so expect a mix of Pacific sounds with a reggae twist.
Dinner is served until 10pm, which is also when the bar calls it a night. Don't miss happy hour from 5pm to 6pm, segueing to evening canapés from 6pm to 7pm.
If you fancy the privacy of your villa deck, room service is available from 7am to 10pm. Enjoy toast, cereal and fruit for breakfast, order off the menu for lunch or dinner, or get a gourmet picnic hamper delivered anywhere on the island.
Royal Davui is located on a private, reef-fringed island in Beqa Lagoon, south of Fiji's main island Viti Levu.
Fly into Nadi International Airport on Fiji's main island Viti Levu, which receives regular flights from Australia, New Zealand, Asia and North America. Handy carriers include Fiji Airways (www.fijiairways.com), which code shares with Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Air New Zealand and Korean Air. From there, the hotel can arrange twice-daily plane/launch transfers to the resort, kicking off with a 20-minute flight from Nadi to Pacific Harbour, followed by a 30-minute launch ride across Beqa Lagoon. You'll need to make sure that your flights align with the departure times. Transfers from Nadi leave at 9.30am in the morning, arriving in Davui at 10.30am; 3.30pm from Nadi (arriving in Davui at 4.30pm) in the afternoon. Transfers from Davui to Nadi leave at 9am, arriving in Nadi at 11am in the morning; 3pm (arriving 5pm) in the afternoon. Transfers cost FJ$1050 per person return, but are the quickest and most popular way to reach Royal Davui.
It's a 180-kilometre drive from Nadi Airport south to Pacific Harbour, following the Queens Road along the Coral Coast. Royal Davui can arrange a road/launch transfer with a private SUV pick-up with driver from Nadi or Suva airports, connecting with the fast launch from Pacific Harbour to the hotel. If you'd rather self-drive, Avis has an office at the airport and can hook you up with a hire-car. The Sigatoka Sand Dunes make a fun stopoff en route.
Private helicopter charters from Nadi Airport to Royal Davui's helipad can be arranged through Island Hoppers, Pacific Island Air or Heli-Tours. The flight takes about an hour, with scenic views over the mainland and Beqa Lagoon.
Worth getting out of bed for
Snorkelling and diving are the big draw here. Snorkelling is free, so just pick up gear from the marine centre and explore the vibrant reef fringing the island. Free guided snorkelling excursions are on offer, although trips to the outer reef cost extra. Gratis sea kayaks and paddle boards are also up for grabs.
Beqa Lagoon is renowned for some of the best diving in Fiji, with more than 13 sites within half an hour of the resort. PADI-certified scuba courses are available, or bring your dive certificate if you're already experienced. Believe it or not, sharks are a big part of the appeal, with the Big Fish Encounter shark dive a major highlight (shark wranglers and feeders will lay the bait, while you stay back and watch the feeding frenzy). Expect to see soft and hard corals, and sculptural fans on other dives, as well as rainbow-bright tropical fish. Night dives around the house reef will also appeal to the intrepid. Sounds a bit scary? Then just join in with feeding the resident soldier fish off the jetty pier (ask the restaurant staff for some bread).
Beyond the free, all-inclusive activities, there is a raft of other fun distractions, at extra cost. Game-fishing fans can go hunting for the big boys – tuna, mahi, wahoo, makerel, sailfish and marlin – on a 30-foot cruiser with Freedive Fiji Charters (www.freedivefiji.com), or there's local fishing available on Royal Davui's resort boat. Surfers can catch waves at Frigate Passage, one of Fiji's best breaks, or try your luck at 'skurfing', which involves being towed behind a boat on a surfboard. Sailing types will enjoy the Hobie Cat.
On dry land, choose between three ivory-white beaches, or treat your partner to a champagne beach picnic on a secluded sandspit (book 24 hours in advance). Sporty folk can team up for a game of soccer, volleyball or touch football, or there's bocce and croquet for the more refined. Twice-weekly visits to Naceva Village on neighbouring Beqa Island are a good way to get a feel for Fijian culture. You can also team a village trip with a hike up a peak, trek to Dakuibeqa Waterfall or attend the village church on Sundays.
Further afield, slake your shopping lust with a day trip to capital Suva, a laid-back town where you can pick up Fijian handicrafts, check out the vibrant food market and pop to the culture-toting museum (the hotel can arrange the boat ride to main island Viti Levu, car and guide). Pacific Harbour, on the mainland, is Fiji's extreme sports capital with Davui offering adventure activities such as a half-day trip to enjoy Zip Fiji's vertiginous zipline thrills, high above the jungle canopy. Whitewater rafting on the Upper Navua River or kayaking on the Luva River are full day trips for aqua fiends.
If relaxation is more your thing, the gorgeous 10-acre island grounds, lush with flora and fauna, are a little Eden for snapping and strolling. At the small spa, body-boosting treatments involving local ingredients include the rejuvenating Island Wrap, a 50-minute therapy drawing on coconut, natural sugar cane and cocoa butter, and 60-minute tropical massage Sugar Glow. Avoid jetlag with preventative Travel Ritual pampering, a face, hair and scalp massage. You can also request in-room treatments.
Royal Davui Island Resort is the only hotel on the island and is all-inclusive, so unless you're up for a swim, you'll do all your eating and drinking here.
At Pacific Harbour's jetty itself, you'll find a very casual, local café if you need to rehydrate at a shady table.
If you're hanging around at Pacific Harbour, waiting for the launch boat to Royal Davui, kill some time at the stylish bar at the Pearl South Pacific (Queens Road), a sleek modern hotel near the jetty. The alfresco Beach Bar offers light Med-style dishes, canapés and cocktails served out on the slate lounging area beside the sea, with a barbecue on Sundays. There's also the chic Foyer Bar, informal daytime Bistro by the pool and Mantarae Restaurant, which serves contemporary Pacific fusion fare with panoramic views of Beqa Island and the ocean.