Snezana Belevska-Bennell discovers the joys of disconnecting to reconnect with her family in a tropical Fijian paradise.
Imagine a place where the hardest decision you and your family will face all day is whether to ditch the hammocks for a dip in the pool, or whether to dig your toes into the pristine white sand, and slip into shallow turquoise waters ringed by a coral reef and framed by softly swaying coconut palms. That place is real.
Malolo Island Resort, located in Fiji’s picturesque Mamanuca Islands, ticks all the boxes. Azure waters, golden sand, mouthwatering food, warm staff, loads of activities for every member of the family, and luxurious bures with all the comforts you need. It is a place where you can kick back and do nothing or get out and do everything. The choice is yours.
Dotted along the water's edge and surrounded by lush tropical gardens and swaying coconut palms, each of Malolo Island Resort’s pretty white plantation-style bures is luxuriously appointed and features highvaulted ceilings accented with traditional Fijian design elements.
Malolo Island is not, however, your typical luxury resort as the island’s mantra is to “disconnect to reconnect”. The belief is that to truly relax, it helps to leave the complications of everyday life behind you. Malolo’s bures deliberately exclude televisions, phones, radio and internet connectivity, enabling you to switch off and unwind and truly see the beauty in your surroundings and the people you are enjoying it with.
And they’re right. The opportunity to engage with our family free from the intrusion of technology and the distractions of day-to-day life is a rare treat. But, if your kids disagree, they can access Wi-Fi in the public areas of the resort.
“It is a place where you can kick back and do nothing or get out and do everything. The choice is yours.”
A feast of Fiji
The resort offers a variety of excellent dining options. We enjoy casual meals and snacks by the water at The Beach Bar and incredible themed buffets in the colonial-inspired Terrace Restaurant. The Treetops restaurant overlooking the pool and gardens offers a more adult vibe and a private babysitting service can be arranged for just a few Fijian dollars per hour, meaning mum and dad can enjoy a romantic meal sans kids.
When it comes to food, Malolo’s philosophy is to stick with fresh, local Fijian produce wherever possible. Nowhere is this more evident than in the resort’s clever kids’ menus, which feature popular children’s staples such as fish fingers made from the freshest catch of the day, handmade burger patties and freshly baked breads and pastries, resulting in some very happy little bellies.
Kicking back and relaxing might have been our first agenda during our stay at Malolo Island, but we discover an enormous selection of activities that make our experience even more memorable. Snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, diving and fishing are just a few of the many water sports available to guests. A sublime sunset cruise or an island-hopping adventure is a must for families. It is not all just about that mesmerising blue water, either, with land activities including walking trails, visits to explore local villages, and learning the traditional Fijian ‘Meke’ dance.
Kids between the ages of four and 12 can head to Tia’s Treehouse, a fabulous kids’ club offering plenty of fun and entertainment with games, toys and a large fully fenced playground surrounded by tropical trees. Mum and dad can use the time the kids are at play to relax by the adults-only pool or head off on scuba diving or snorkelling adventures, safe in the knowledge that Malolo Island’s warm and friendly Fijian staff are supervising all the children’s activities.
One of the most innovative programs on offer for children is ‘Yanu Yanu’, which allows kids to experience what it is like to live as a local. Yanu Yanu introduces kids to Fijian culture in a fun and immersive way as well as teaching them about the importance of caring for and protecting the environment, something integral to the islanders’ beliefs.
For kids under the age of four, the resort offers an optional private babysitting service. Little ones are welcome to participate in some of the activities at Tia’s Treehouse, provided they are accompanied by a parent or a nanny. Teens have the freedom of the island and their own special space, Khail’s Club, equipped with games, beanbag lounges and satellite TV and free Wi-Fi.
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a castaway? Grab the kids and take a private boat from Malolo Island to nearby Modriki, the island made famous as the location for the movie Castaway, starring Tom Hanks. Luckily, on this castaway experience you’re not likely to start befriending volleyballs or chatting to coconuts. Instead you can simply enjoy a sumptuous packed brunch or lunch, take a dip in the pristine waters or just relax under the swaying palm trees, until it’s time to be ferried back to Malolo and all the luxuries you could need in a Fijian resort.
This article appeared in volume 55 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.