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Fabulous Fiji: Why Denarau Island Is So Hot Right Now!

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With stunning beaches, year-round warm weather and some of the friendliest people you’ll meet on the planet, there’s never a bad time to visit Fiji.

But if you’re looking to save a few bucks in the process of embracing Fiji Time – the ubiquitous local euphemism for the relaxed, unhurried way of life there – now is the time to book.

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There are stacks of specials on offer, for flights and accommodation at this time of the year.

With 320 islands in all, you’re not short on options either, but whether you’re planning a short stay, or something longer, Denarau Island is more often than not, a visitor’s savviest first port of call.

Here’s why…

1. Convenience factor

Separated from the ‘mainland’ by a short bridge, Denarau is more an island in name, than nature. Just 15 minutes after ambling through Nadi airport’s arrival gate into the inviting tropical heat, you’ll be luxuriating poolside in a Denarau deckchair, and quietly cursing yourself for not finding this place sooner. National carrier Fiji Airways offers daily flights from Sydney (4 hours approx), Melbourne (4h 40m) and Brisbane (3h 30m) to Nadi, with Virgin and Jetstar also options from the main centres.

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2. Stay in one, play in three

Whether you’re staying at the Sheraton Fiji Resort, or its neighbouring Starwood 5-star properties, the Sheraton Villas, or the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, you get to enjoy the facilities in all three. Getting a little tired of the view at one of the resorts’ six pools? No problem, just wander next door and set yourself up at the neighbouring sun lounge or oh-so-luxe wicker pool bed. Don’t worry about leaving the room key behind either. As long as you remember the room number, you can charge back as many banana daiquiris from any one of the swim-up bars – or other watering holes for that matter – as you can safely knock back. Just remember, there are no lifeguards on duty.

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3. Fun for the whole family

Want a little peace and quiet to catch up on some waterfront reading while the kids scream and holler someplace else? You’ve come to the right place. Fiji is legendary for its hospitality, particularly when it comes to your children. You can confidently leave them with any of the Starwood hotel’s kids’ club secure in the knowledge that they’ll quickly forget you forgot to download Finding Dory, and Kung Fu Panda 3. If that doesn’t work, you can always promise hair-braiding and/or a visit to the feature-stacked Big Bula Water Park.

4. Island-hopping hub

If you can yank yourself away from all the fun stuff on offer at Denarau, you only need to take a short walk from your accommodation, or ride on the famous Bula Bus, down to the Denarau Marina. That’s your gateway to so many idyllic tropical islands, you’ll need to sit down with a cold towel and an icy beverage just to stop your head from spinning so much. For shorter day trips, the Mamanuca group of islands is your best bet, with prices starting as low as A$110 (adults)/A$55 (child 5-15) for a half day to the nearest island, South Seas, just 30 minutes away.

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5. World class spa

The Heavenly Spa By Westin is nestled amongst a mediation garden and has the feel of a Fijian village. We feel rested and relaxed long before disrobing. We opt for the signature massage, which starts with a heated compress on the back, and sets the tone for the treatment. The smells are amazing and this treatment is a feast for your travel weary muscles and for the senses. We splurge on the longer A$144, 90 minute version, rather than the hour, but judging by the time we both apparently nodded off, that’s money well spent.

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6. Golf/tennis

Whether you’re new to the game of golf, or fancy yourself as a bit of a pro, Denarau’s championship course strikes just the right balance to accommodate all playing levels. If you’re a newbie, just set yourself up at one of the forward tees and let it rip. There are plenty of wide open fairways with few penal hazards to swallow up your ball. Prices start at just FJ$169 (A$107 at time of writing) for a round and electric cart. The relaxed vibe here continues at the clubhouse where the drinks and food are some of the cheapest in Denarau. If you’re feeling extra energetic, you can also hire a tennis court and two racquets here too from just FJ$55 (A$35 per hour).

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7. Farm to fork lunch

This relatively new Sunday innovation by the Westin’s executive sous chef Prabhat Prawin is an absolute must-do for anyone who appreciates great food – and the story behind it. After being picked up from your hotel lobby you take a short golf buggy ride to the three-acre gardens sandwiched between the 10th and 18th fairways of the Denarua golf course. There Prabhat and farm manager Ifran Ali walk you through an impressive array of colourful crops planted to add the winning edge to the Starwood stable’s mouth-watering menus. You walk away with a newfound appreciation of the challenges that chefs face in tropical outposts – but not before sampling what all the fuss is about with a three-course meal cooked by Prabhat and his expert team on-site, and all for the bargain-price of just F$59 (A$38 at time of writing).

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Written by James Graham

With over 20 years as a journalist and TV producer, The Carousel Editor James Graham has a wealth of experience covering the full media spectrum.

James has a formidable reputation as a talented media veteran and worked as a reporter, script writer and as the producer of the TV documentary The Road To Athens.

He has worked across newspapers, radio and the biggest flagship magazine brands in Australia and New Zealand. Previously, James was the News Director at Woman's Day and New Idea.

Whether filing celebrity exclusives, or some of the biggest real-life splashes of recent years, James’ career has always been at the frontline of mainstream media.

When not in the Ed’s chair, you’ll find him at Royal Randwick, his beloved Long Reef Golf Club on the Northern Beaches – or visiting his mum in his native New Zealand.

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