It really is so tempting to stay put. The open, breezy and expansive villa has a vast terrace with an infinity pool and a breathtaking view looking straight through swaying palms out to the pristine South Pacific Ocean. From here you can make out the coral reefs and a pod of dolphins swimming lazily by each morning.
Seven private staff, full of smiles, are on hand to attend to your every whim. Setting the table for each meal at one of five locations around the beachfront exclusive acre is a ceremony. The fresh linen and flowers lovingly laid out are mirrored in the freshness of the food to follow. Grown mostly onsite, or pulled straight from the ocean, Taveuni Palms’ cuisine offers a mix of light, fresh dishes that often include a nod to the Indian settlers with accents of ginger and chilli, as well as seasonal tropical fruit that you can spy hanging from the trees by the pool.
Room service here is transformed into a private fine dining experience. Menus are available for breakfast and lunch, but dinner is a very special four-course bespoke affair where the chef takes a look at your preferences and creates something unique and surprising. Unlike some of the bigger resort restaurants, it’s so relaxed, with staff never once breaking the magical spell that’s been cast, speaking in hushed tones and moving gracefully, so that you always feel like you are the only ones on the island.
While the dining is taking place, staff are quietly preparing the villa for the evening, leaving with a final flourish of fresh flowers laid out on the bed to beckon you in from the canopy of stars outside. It’s no surprise that Taveuni Palms has won so many awards and that it’s a favourite destination for celebrations of love, such as weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries. It’s also no surprise to hear that guests return year after year to this particular patch of paradise, having found it so hard to leave at all.
On day one, I’m tempted to get as far as the enormous beachfront bure. Armed with a book and the complimentary snorkeling gear, it’s easy to relax into ‘Fiji time’, sinking back into the plump cushions in the shade with the ocean offering up a sublime palm-fringed view and a side of cool breeze. There’s a reef to explore just 50 metres offshore and it’s enough to whet my appetite for the vast shoals out in the middle. Mother Nature really flaunts her beauty in this part of the world and, luckily, the staff are more than happy to help her.
Next morning, I’m on the private Taveuni Palms launch speeding my way across the impossibly clear waters of Somosomo Strait to the beautiful Koro Levu Island, which is situated in the middle of the ocean. At our destination, there’s the promise of a private beach picnic and a swim, but I’m most excited about the halfway pit stop at Cabbage Reef. My guide is excited too, his grin broadening with every approaching metre. I can tell from his face that it is about to blow my mind.
There’s no need for scuba gear here, so with fins, mask and snorkel in place I drop into the temperate and relatively shallow waters and instantly feel like I’ve been shrunk and am swimming around an enormous aquarium. And it’s brimming with life; small, brightly coloured fish dart about near the surface, while bigger fish cruise slowly below, and beneath it all is this amazing garden. Coral of all shapes and sizes are dotted with vivid blue sea stars and clams. The eponymous cabbages bloom with gusto and the reef seems to go on forever. It’s a truly amazing experience to be this close to such natural beauty.
Day three I’m tempted to see what the inland has to offer. Walking down the path to Bouma Waterfalls I’m struck by the thought that gardening in Fiji is an attempt to stop things growing, such is the abundance of plant life. The grass is a five-centimetre-deep velvet carpet of green, hopping with frogs chaperoning us on our walk, which is flanked by cliffs heaving with trees, ferns, flowers and vines. The falls themselves are a brute force, mirroring the intensity of nature that surrounds them.
It’s a lot to take in, but luckily there are plenty of places in the villa and gardens to sit, relax and reflect. I even find myself dreaming up a plan for the next trip to this extraordinary place. It’s only natural.
For more information about the villas and excursions, visit taveunipalms.com