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Fiji Trip Report-- Matamanoa, Tokoriki and Blue Lagoon Cruise

Fiji Trip Report-- Matamanoa, Tokoriki and Blue Lagoon Cruise

Jan 28th, 2006, 02:25 PM
  #1  
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Fiji Trip Report-- Matamanoa, Tokoriki and Blue Lagoon Cruise

We've just returned from a month in Sydney, the South Island of NZ and Fiji. I am going to write three separate trip reports and will start with the Fiji portion.

We used Margaret Travel to book our Fiji accommodation. I wanted to use a Fijian travel agent and this company was recommended here. Margaret and Iva were both extremely helpful during the booking process. However, I don'tknow if I would use them again just because we communicated solely through email and I now think it would have been better to use a US agent so I could talk with them on the phone. Otherwise I would recommend Margaret Travel Service. They have an office on the 2nd floor of Nadi airport.

We had a long day of travel on the way to Fiji. We flew Air NZ from Dunedin to Christchurch, visited the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch during the layover, then flew to Auckland on Jetconnect (Qantas) and then to Nadi on Air Pacific. Our flight to Nadi was delayed due to problems with Air Pacific at check-in and I understand the delays are quite common.

We were greeted at the airport by Margaret Travel and escorted to her office. There were some problems with our original reservation of 5 nights at Matamanoa followed by a 3-night Blue Lagoon Gold Club cruise. I won't go into the details, but we eventually ended up with 3 nights at Matamanoa, 2 nights at Tokoriki, and the 3-night cruise.

We took at taxi to Denarau marina where we boarded our chartered SeaFiji water taxi to Matamanoa. We had wanted to take a helicopter transfer, but our flight landed at 5:30pm and the helicopters do not fly after dark. Instead of spending a night at an airport or Denarau hotel and taking a helicopter the following morning, we decided to splurge on chartering a water taxi (FJ$475) and getting to the resort that night. It was a very smooth ride and we arrived at the resort at about 9pm.

We stayed in bure 5 at Matamanoa, which was on the sunrise side of the island. The bure was huge. I did not feel that the decor was outdated-- the bedspreads and curtains were newish. The bathroom furnishings could have been updated, but they were fine. There were two queen-sized beds and two twin beds, a bar, refrigerator, and two ceiling fans. The fans were adequate in keeping us cool at night.

The resort was fairly small, which we liked. We never had a problem getting pool chairs in a prime location. The infinity pool was small but almost always empty. The snorkeling was AMAZING! Right off the beach, amazing coral and lots of fish. We used the kayaks one afternoon as well-- they have kayaks with viewing windows in the bottom.

We found the food at Matamanoa to be fine. Not great, not bad, definitely edible. We especially enjoyed the fish and chips. The service was OK. The men were much much much more friendly than the women, especially the waitresses. I don't know why the waitresses were so brusque, especially after experiencing wonderful service from the females working at Tokoriki..

We would likely return to Matamanoa for the great snorkeling and the location.

To be continued...
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 02:36 PM
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We took the 11am shuttle from Matamanoa to Tokoriki (FJ$40 each). It was a much rougher journey than we had on the other boat. We arrived at Tokoriki and our room was not ready so we went to the pool.

The pool at Tokoriki is huge and was almost always empty. It was an infinity pool and had great views. Again, we had no problem ever getting pool chairs in a prime location.

As mentioned on other posts here and on tripadvisor.com, Tokoriki is having major seaweed issues which results in a really gross swampy smell and a million insects surrounding anyone who chooses to dine at an outside table. I would NOT recommend staying at Tokoriki until the seaweed issues are resolved. They say the seaweed issues are due to overfishing of the reefs, constant southeasterly winds and the lack of a cyclone for the past 6 years.

We stayed in bure 28 which is set back from the beach, half in the rainforest/jungle vegetation. I would recommend a beach bure, but those were closer to the seaweed. We had a few critters in our bure but nothing dangerous-- a few geckos and lots of worms and slugs that I think must have fallen through the roof? Anyway, nothing major but I thought I would mention it.

There are also bats on Tokoriki-- they never came near us so this isn't a warning, but they were amazing. Really big and they would fly about at dusk. Unfortunately we didn't catch them on the camera.

The food at Tokoriki was OK. About the same as Matamanoa but more expensive. The service at Tokoriki far exceeded that of Matamanoa and I feel awful recommending tourists to go elsewhere since the workers were so great.

We took the excursion to the island where Castaway with Tom Hanks was filmed. We recommend it and highly enjoyed it. (Matamanoa also offers the excursion if you stay there.)

To be continued....
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 02:48 PM
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The Fiji Princess, our Blue Lagoon Gold Club cruise boat, picked us up from Tokoriki around 6pm. I would highly recommend the resort pickup to anyone taking a Gold Club cruise. They pick up from Castaway, Mana, Matamanoa, Tokoriki and Malolo islands.

We stayed in cabin 31 which was as small as a cruise cabin on the big Caribbean ships. It was big enough-- only complaint is that the shower was impossible to use without getting water everywhere.

Our cruise director Alex was the best cruise director I've ever had. The staff was exclusively Fijian men except for the beautician. The staff were wonderful!!!

That night at the welcome champagne part we met a couple from Auckland that were our age and we ate most meals with them from then on. There were 8 kids on our boat and passengers from Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, the US, the UK and the Czech Republic.

The first full day we visited a beach in the morning for snorkeling and swimming, went back to the boat for lunch, and visited a village in the afternoon. The village visit was the highlight of our time in Fiji. The village was not touristy at all and we felt as if we really had a special experience. There was singing and dancing and of course some Kava! We brought stickers for the children and had fun meeting them.

The following day was spent at the cruise line's private island. We enjoyed the swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and fish feeding. That night we had a lovo feast and more kava. It was a special evening and something we'll always remember. The lovo food was very good, too.

All the food was good-- the BLC motto is "the more you eat, the better you float" and they feed you every two hours, no kidding.

We very much enjoyed the cruise and recommend it. We had wanted to take the 6-night cruise, but that boat was having its annual refurbishing the week we were there (figures) so we went for the 3-night.

Please let us know if you have any questions about our time in Fiji. We hope to return!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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Hi Tim & Liz

I'm most interested to know why you would not use Margaret Travel again.

We've used them for many of our trips to Fiji and they have always been fabulous! You would have saved quite a lot of money using them over a US agent. We priced a accom & seaplanes in Fiji via an Australia agent then asked Margaret for similar pricing. She came in with a huge saving and we've done similar comparisions since and she's always been better priced & more helpful than anyone we've used prior.

I'm surprised that she recommended Tokoriki because we told her what a terrible time we had there! They cannot fix the seaweed problem. The resort is sited on the wrong side of the island! It gets so windy & smelly there we could not wait to leave!

Anyway glad you had a mostly good time in Fiji. Next time try Octopus Resort. It is very good! All the best!
Lyndie is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 07:42 PM
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Hi Lyndie,
We did use Margaret Travel for the reservations and she did give us great prices.

We did have some problems though-- we reserved a bure at Matamanoa for 5 nights back in August. When I emailed Margaret again in October to confirm, Matamanoa only had a hotel room available and not a bure and Margaret apologized for their mistake. Then, when we arrived, she informed us that Matamanoa could not accommodate us for the 4th night of our stay because they were full. So we had to move to Tokoriki for nights 4 and 5 because there was no other option than to come back to the main island-- which would have been a lot of traveling. (When we arrived at Matamanoa, they DID have a bure available and not a hotel room-- it was confusing but we just thought, "go with the flow" and enjoyed our bure.)
Again, we did like Margaret and would suggest her agency to anyone who would like to use a Fijian travel agent. However, there were some mix-ups that we would have liked to avoid, and if we had been able to contact them as easily as if we had used a US travel agent, then the problems may have been worked out before we arrived at 6pm and found out our reservations were not valid. Margaret did give us free transfers to Denarau and from Lautoka to Nadi to "make up" for the mix-up and we thought that was more than fair.

I don't think that Margaret would have had Tokoriki as her first choice, but all other resorts that Blue Lagoon picked up at (Castaway, Malolo, Mana) were full during our 4th and 5th nights in Fiji and Tokoriki was our last resort--literally.

Next time we would like to stay in the Yasawas-- we loved it there!
Liz
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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Hi Tim & Liz-you two are very gracious people!

I would have been VERY upset about what happened with Margaret's agency. It's just not excusable when one is flying half way around the world & books far enough in advance for her to make the correct arrangements! I hope you'll give her another try but if not I can understand! I'm very glad your trip worked out well in the end! All the best! Just one more thing-even though Octopus is a step down from Tokoriki's amenities it's a BIG step up in location & food quality. Simply a well-run low-mid price resort without compare in the southern Yasawas! Have fun!
Lyndie is offline  
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