Escape to a place where nature reigns, adventure awaits and traditions remain.
Adventure or comfort? Nature or nurture? Excitement or Relaxation? No need to choose, because you can have all and more in more in one of the world's most beautiful and desirable tropical settings. The place you are looking for lies eight miles south of Fiji's main island of Viti Levu. It's a small, green island that's spelled Beqa when you search it but pronounced like “Mbenga” when you say it.
There are no roads on Beqa. The island's unspoiled landscape is dominated by jungle-clad hills that rise 1,500 feet above an azure lagoon. Scattered around the coastline are a smattering of traditional villages and low-key guest lodges that are reached by boat. The one you want is the Lalati Resort and Spa, which is located on the northeastern side of the island, at the mouth of Malumu Bay. Here, a collection of 16 Fijian style cottages, known as bures, are scattered through a garden-like setting along the shore and on an adjacent hillside.
Each bure is built in a rustic-chic style that delivers privacy and creature comforts, while also showcasing the spectacular natural surroundings. The emphasis is on natural woods and fabrics, chosen to evoke a sense of rustic elegance. In short, a stay here is a far cry from your average hotel room.
The resort's central bure is equally impressive, as it was designed to resemble one of the local village chief houses, with tall posts supporting a soaring roof. The bar and restaurant are located in the big bure, and nearby is a full-service spa with water views, and the activities bure, which is the place where adventures begin.
Beqa Island is surrounded by one of the largest barrier reefs in the Pacific. This expansive ring of colorful coral provides endless hours of exploration for snorkelers and divers and creates calm conditions for all manner of water sports. This aquatic playground begins right at Lalati Resort's beach, where snorkelers can wade in and glide over reefs teeming with life.
The waters of Malumu Bay can be explored by kayak or SUP, and there are guided paddles, including trips to a small island to view Beqa's famous “flying foxes”. These are actually large fruit bats that roost in the trees by the thousands. The resort also operates powerboats for wakeboarding and waterskiing and provides daily snorkel safaris, sunset cruises, dolphin watching trips and private picnic excursions to deserted beaches.
Divers have access to numerous sites along the barrier reef, and the more adventurous can join in a shark feed that puts them in the center of a swirling cloud of fish and reef sharks.
The coastal villages of Beqa are connected by boat travel, and the only way into the island's interior forests and hills are by foot. A network of trails leads to lush valleys, hidden waterfalls and elevated overlooks. A favorite excursion from Lalati Resort begins with a short boat ride to a nearby village of Nawaisomo. Here, visitors are introduced to true Fijian culture, as the people of Beqa see few tourists, and still practice traditional Melanesian ways of life, welcome guests.
In addition to more cultural interactions such as bartering for handicrafts, lovo feasts and kava ceremonies, visitors to certain villages can witness ceremonies unique to this island. Beqa is famous for its Fire Walkers and Fire Healers, and in Dakuibeqa village, practitioners of this legendary tradition walk barefoot across red-hot rocks with total immunity.
Hikers can enjoy a range of excursions into Beqa's pristine interior. One of the premier walks leads to a 50-foot-tall waterfall hidden deep in the jungle, where swimmers can cool down with a swim in a freshwater pool at the base of the falls. A more challenging hike leads upward to the top of Ulnkoro Mountain, which the islands highest point at 1,500 feet. The reward for the climb is a view of the entire island and the reefs beyond.
Off Island Adventures
Though Beqa seems a world apart, it is actually just a seven-mile boat ride away from Pacific Harbour, on the big island of Viti Levu. This allows guests of Lalati Resort to combine an out-island lifestyle with a variety of off-island day trips. More civilized activities include day trips to Suva City to visit open-air markets and museums. On the waterfront, there are Jet Ski tours of the coast and big game fishing trips into the Pacific.
Journeys into the interior can include hikes, zipline canopy tours and river trips that take in waterfalls, with stops for a lovo lunch and meke dancing at a local village. For a truly unique adventure, guests can sign up for white water rafting in the canyons of the upper Navua River. Following each of these excursions, guests return to Lalati in time for an evening bonfire on the beach and fall asleep to the sounds of nature in a true tropical paradise.