LikuLiku is an unwittingly apt name for a resort largely populated by honeymooners who, having stared avidly at one another through dinner, have all scrambled back to their bures by 8.30pm.
We were outside the norm, being a party of four celebrating a friend’s birthday. We flew into Nadi at night and drove on potholed roads past cheaply lit asian and indian food stalls to Port Denarau to catch a water taxi to LikuLiku. Helicopter and seaplane transfers don’t run at night, so we were relegated to the back of a tinny speedboat where we sat on our luggage and suffered bruised bums for an hour as we bounced from wave to wave. Tom Cruise’s mega- boat Suri was in harbour and I looked sourly at it as one of our boat boys cheerily bailed water out of the back of the tinny with a cut-off soft drink bottle.
It wasn’t really the luxury introduction I was expecting given that LikuLiku has apparently won a slew of awards recently. However, as we stepped off the boat, we were greeted by gorgeous harmonies, ukuleles and wide white smiles (perhaps a throwback to times when the arrival of visitors heralded a feast, and not in a good way for the visitors). A cold fruit juice, a fetching stone necklace, and we were relaxing a table in minutes.
LikuLiku prides itself on its fresh and delicious food and we were not disappointed. In fact, throughout our stay, the fact that 40 couples were efficiently served 3 restaurant quality courses twice a day, was very impressive. The kitchen was first set up by Shane Watson of Wildfire fame, since taken on by Brett Kryskow formerly of Bather’s Pavilion in Sydney, and the modern Australasian-Pacific vibe is evident in the use of copious herbs and salads, and excellent products both local and imported. Dinner might start with a light and fresh appetiser of mud crab and avocado, followed by roast New Zealand lamb with lamb shank tortellini and onion soubise, and finish with a mango icecream bombe alaska.
It was a short walk back to our bungalows, the night so black and the stars so bright they looked like so many broken pixels on a screen. Tempting as it was to spend the night stargazing from our daybeds, with the lap and wash of the waves just a few steps away, we finally retired to our comfortable bures, sleepily registering the word “welcome home” spelled out in leaves and flowers on the bed.
Our days started with breakfasts of pineapple crepes, and were otherwise filled with pro-standard lazing – at the pool, by the beach, in the tiny and homely Tatadra spa, or in the cushions of the outdoor salas attached to our bure. Occasionally we would rouse ourselves to don snorkel and flippers, launch ourselves off the boat pontoon and float lazily above a busy aquamarine world full of colour and movement. In fact, the house reef at LikuLiku is quite lovely – the island itself is a marine reserve and fishlife flourishes amongst a variety of corals which appear to be thriving where so many places in the world are now bleached and barren. The diving was also excellent, with local outfitter Subsurface Fiji providing a professional service to resort guests. Crystal clear water and corals of all shapes and sizes made for memorable dives – we saw shoals of electric blue darting about like moving neon, small black nudibranchs with violent orange stripes, slender pipefish and giant wrasse with their old-man faces.
Back on land, there was still plenty to remind us of an Attenborough documentary. On our first night, the resort was dominated by courting couples but the demographic eased out a little later on, with other guests arriving to enjoy the absence of screaming toddlers and harried parents. Strangely there was a significant proportion of Italians, stunning honey-coloured continental girls sporting small dresses, large handbags and muscled boyfriends.
The vibe of LikuLiku is very relaxed – people are generally too absorbed in each other to take much notice of what anyone else is doing. In all, we found the resort homespun but delightful. Although not as polished as its rivals in Bali or Thailand or the Maldives, given the warmth of its staff, the meal-inclusive tariff and the natural beauty of the surrounding waters, it represents good value for money.
LikuLiku’s sister resort, Malolo, is just around the point. It shares the executive chef and sports an equally impressive menu, but rather than traditional Polynesian bures, accommodation is in lovely little two and three bedroom whitewashed plantation bungalows amongst a coconut grove. The resort is family friendly and as we passed I saw tiny toddlers chasing sand crabs, or digging happily at the water’s edge whilst their parents sat on the verandah with coconuts in hand, not in the least envious of their child free counterparts just around the point.