After years of being locked down, it feels about time to start putting those dream travel plans into action.
While a family trip to Europe is great, nothing beats Fiji for the ultimate paradise getaway with the kids. Sure, it’s a little further to travel, but once you’re there, the incredible hospitality, friendly people, beautiful beaches, colourful coral and excellent family-focused resorts make it the perfect choice.
As a fairly new, but well-travelled mum I fully understand the challenges of travelling with babies and kids. There’s the incredible amount of stuff they require, the endless energy they have and need for entertainment, and often, all parents want is an hour of peace to enjoy a destination without having to take care of someone.
It was clear as soon as we arrived in Fiji, that this was going to be exactly the sort of holiday we needed.
After being greeted by beautiful singing from the staff at our resort, they whisked the baby out of my arms, showering him with affection while we checked in.
This warm welcome was a constant throughout our trip to Fiji, and having a baby was like a magnet for friendly smiles and conversation. Our baby loved it too – receiving cuddles, playing games and making friends with lots of different people throughout our stay.
After checking in to Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort on Fiji’s main island Viti Levu (our first stay of two resorts in Fiji), we headed to the pool, which was clearly designed with families in mind. A river-like pool, only a few inches deep flows into a larger lagoon, meaning children of all ages can enjoy time in the water.
Setting up on a sun lounger, we noticed that the kids club was nearby, and knowing that most Fiji resorts offer a fantastic nanny service, we decided to go and check it out.
Meimei means ‘to care for’ in Fijian, and the Meimei nannies at Outrigger offer a one-on-one babysitting service for children from six months old. Having never used a babysitter at home, I was slightly apprehensive about leaving my baby with someone else, but I needn’t have worried. We received the usual warm Fijian welcome upon arrival and our son didn’t even look back as he headed off to play with the nanny and other babies in the kids club.
We enjoyed two hours of peaceful bliss by the pool, along with a relaxing child-free lunch, before collecting the baby just in time for his afternoon nap. Fiji’s popularity as a family-friendly destination was certainly becoming very clear at this point.
After such a positive experience, we booked a nanny for dinner the following evening and had a fantastic meal at the resort’s fine dining restaurant, Ivi.
It’s not just babies that get the five-star treatment in Fiji – a large portion of the hotels and resorts offer some kind of kids club.
This was certainly the case at our second stay of the trip at Plantation Island Resort, which features a new purpose-built kids’ club that is free for guests.
Open seven days a week from 9am to 8:30pm (with breaks), the Coconut Kids Club offers a wide range of activities for children aged 3 and over. Children make boats out of coconuts before racing them, try local arts and crafts such as weaving and learn about traditional Fijian culture. The centre features two outdoor parks, an indoor soft play area, a reading area, an arts and crafts zone and even a special kids cooking area and restaurant.
While the kids are entertained, parents can enjoy the paradise of this incredible part of the world. Plantation Island Resort Fiji is located an hours boat ride from Viti Levu, on Malolo LaiLai Island, part of the Mamanuca group of islands.
Crystal clear water laps white sand beaches, lined with palms on this 23-acre property. The water temperature is incredibly warm (around 27°C), making it great for swimming and there are a variety of excursions on offer.
Fiji is known as the soft coral capital of the world and is home to the third-largest barrier reef system on the planet. So it’s well worth booking a snorkelling or diving excursion to witness these colourful corals close up.
A short boat trip ride and you can explore a variety of underwater reefs, where along with beautiful corals, you can spot an array of marine life including clown fish, rays, angelfish and butterflyfish. You may also be lucky enough to spot green sea turtles and if you head a little further north, to the Yasawa chain of islands, it is possible to see manta rays too.
Kids and babies are more than welcome on these excursions, and we took our baby on two snorkelling trips during our stay. The rocking of the boat quickly lulled him to sleep on the way and he slept soundly in his pram on board the boat (under the watch of the skipper) while we snorkelled.
Most resorts have free snorkelling gear for guests to use and many employ marine biologists who focus on coral restoration. They also offer the opportunity for guests to get involved in conservation projects such as replanting of coral fragments.
Keen surfers can try out some of the incredible surf breaks, such as the famous Cloud Break – considered one of the best surf spots in the world. (WSL champion John John Florence was surfing it while we were there). This is for experienced surfers only, but there are some less challenging breaks to try too.
Another great excursion to take, with or without the kids, is a visit to a local Fijian village. Many of the staff working at Plantation and its neighbouring resorts live in the nearby village of Solevu and the resort offers a trip to experience local village life. The highlight is visiting the village school, where we met kids of all ages and their teachers. The school rugby pitch and classrooms overlook the beach – a pretty idyllic spot for a school.
Alternatively, you can spend the trip relaxing in a waterside hammock, sipping on a fresh coconut – the choice is yours.
The resort restaurants are child friendly, and many offer the chance to try some of the local cuisine, such as Kokodo – a delicious Fijian dish made with lime-cured fish served in coconut milk. And if you’re craving your daily flat white, the Cocohut at Plantation Island serves barista-style coffee from 7am each day – you can even have it served in a coconut.
A short walk from Plantation Island Resort is Musket Cove Island Resort & Marina. This is a popular destination for sailors travelling through the South Pacific, with berths and mooring, a general store, fuel and an ATM. It is also a gorgeous resort, and the Musket Cove Yacht Club Island Bar is a must-visit spot.
Located on a sandy island connected by a floating marina walkway, the Bure-style bar serves excellent cocktails, the popular Fiji Gold and Vonu beers and some great food, including delicious Mahi Mahi burgers.
It’s kid-friendly (our baby enjoyed making friends at the bar) and after lunch, you can go for a dip in the ocean or watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. There are also BBQs if you’re skilled enough to catch your own fish for dinner.
Fiji was exactly the kind of tropical getaway we needed, and with the incredible offering for families, one that we hope to take again soon.
How to get to Fiji and where to stay
A two-centre holiday including return flights from London Heathrow, 5 nights at Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, 5 nights at Plantation Island Resort, and all car and boat transfers starts from £2839 per person with Flight Centre Holidays.
Nannies in Fiji: Prices vary across resorts for the cost of a nanny but usually range from 6FJD to 20FJD per hour per child, which at the time of writing is £2-£8.
Visit Tourism Fiji for more information.
Hayley Lewis is a travel writer, blogger and producer. For more on family travel in Fiji head to alovelyplanet.com or follow Hayley on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or Facebook.
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