I generally don’t like going to luxury resorts. Most of them tend to be so commercialized and similar to each other and so packed full of amenities that you might as well have just gone to a hotel in Vegas. I find most luxury resorts to be isolating from the native area and cultures where they are located and to lack personality. Matangi is not like most luxury resorts.
Over the course of our 10 day visit I fell in love with Matangi. Not because of breathtaking blue waters, or the white sand beaches, or the fantastic cuisine, or the top notch bure treehouse. I fell in love with Matangi because of the people who worked there and because a big part of visiting this resort is learning about the Fijian culture and getting to know the people who live there. I’m still friends with some of them on Facebook to this day.
Where Is Matangi Located?
Matangi is on a private 240-foot horseshoe shaped island owned by an Australian couple. The island is off the north east coast of Taveuni, one of the islands in the Fijian archipelago (off the coast of Australia).
Getting To Matangi
Getting to Matangi is a trip unto itself, but well worth it once you arrive.
- To get to Matangi, you will likely fly into the cities of either Nadi or Suva on the main island.
- From there you will take 1 or 2 smaller island hopping planes to get to smaller island Taveuni.
- A shuttle bus will meet you at the Taveuni airport (which would more accurately be described as a bus stop given it’s size)
- You’ll be taken to the boat where you will then take a 20-min boat ride to get to the island.
I think there are only 1 or 2 boats that go to the island per day, so depending on when your final plane eventually lands, you may need to spend the night at a resort on Taveuni before meeting the boat the next morning. This is what we did and were very happy to have done so as we were exhausted from the 14hours of traveling.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Fiji?
Fiji is beautiful year round!
- The temperature remains in the 80s pretty consistently.
- Peak Season is July through September. As this is a tropical environment, you can expect a sprinkling of rain that quickly clears just about daily even during peak season.
- Storm Season: November through April. Higher chances of storms and rain during these months, but otherwise still beautiful weather.
Making A Reservation at Matangi
We booked this scuba diving trip through Ultimate Dive Travel, so I can’t comment on booking through the resort directly. I do however HIGHLY recommend Ultimate Dive Travel if you want to include scuba in your trip at all. Ken and Laura are the owners and are both wonderful people who go out of their way to guide you through every step of your trip and will tailor packages to exactly what you need.
Matangi’s website offers a variety of packages ranging from all inclusive (with food and activities) to just the room, which there are a variety of rooms to choose from at different price levels.
The rooms are all individual cottages (or bures):
- Ocean View Bures start at $500/night
- Beach Front Bures start at $600/night
- Tree House Bures start at $750/night
Pro Tip: If you choose to just book a room rather than a package, you can add on amenities a la carte when you’re there, but it’s cheaper to book with a package ahead of time.
What To Expect
As your boat nears the island, the staff will be line up on the beach singing a traditional welcome song as you arrive. While these may be strangers to you now, many of these people will become your friends before you leave and will sing a traditional farewell song when you leave too.
The food and drinks are fantastic. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served during specific times that you can choose to attend or not. Each meal is three-courses, delicious, and decadent. While tables are usually meant for two, several of us got along so well we preferred to eat together.
Everyone at Matangi is immensely friendly and accommodating. If you want or need something, just ask and they will find a way to accommodate you. The staff are not only your guides to the islands, but are also there to just hang out and have a good time with you if not engaged in resort duties.
This was one of the best parts of this trip because it broke down the barrier between “us” and “them”. Some of my favorite moments on this trip were playing volleyball with the staff in the afternoon after lunch and learning the Fijian card game “hearts” from the activities director one night after dinner. The next day we learned that his daughter had died that night from a heart complication while we were playing the card game. Even though he was “off work”, there had been no boats to take him off the island until the next morning, so he sat with us and played the game (I think to take his mind off of it). I mention this not to be sad, but to demonstrate how close you become with the staff and how welcoming they are to include you in their lives.
Tipping The Staff
The resorts recommends against tipping staff individually. They prefer that you include a group tip with your final bill to be split among all employees. While I understand the reasoning behind this since you don’t interact much with the people cleaning your room who are equally as important to running the resort, some of the staff are so wonderful and helpful, it’s hard not to tip them directly, and many people do.
Pro Tip: If tipping the staff directly, exchange your money to Fijian dollars first.
One woman who we had become friends with covertly asked us to take the USD that were given to her as a tip and exchange it to Fijian dollars for her since she was not supposed to be accepting tips and would have no way to exchange the dollars herself.
Island and Cultural Activities
In addition to just enjoying the incredibly relaxing beaching and views at Matangi there are also lots of fun things to do here, which adds to why I liked it so much. There are a variety of outdoor activities and cultural activities that really allow you to get to know the Fijian people and their way of life. A full list is available on Matangi’s website and it looks like they’ve added several more options since my visit, but here are the ones that I recommend including in your trip:
Pro Tip: Ask to see the bats! Visiting the fruit bats isn’t mentioned or promoted as a resort activity as in the past some people have abused them, but one of the staff asked us if we wanted to see the bats, and we said yes. They are so adorably cute and curious! You can go inside the cage where they live and hold them and let them crawl all over you.
SCUBA Diving at Matangi
Diving in these waters is absolutely beautiful. There is great visibility, lots of reefs, beautiful corals and wildlife. The water is comfortably warm, even for someone who always gets cold like me. In addition to the fish and corals, we also saw two sharks (at a safe distance) and a sea turtle (sadly also t a safe distance) during our dive trips. A typical dive day includes two dives with a surface in between. You leave after breakfast and will be back to the island before lunch. You will have a dive guide with you who will help plan out your dives based on the tides and your abilities.
Horseshoe Bay Picnic
Horseshoe Bay is listed in “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz, and rightly so. There is a bure in the middle of the beach on the bay, which is located on the opposite side of the island from the resort. Here you have the entire bay to yourself. You can relax on the day beds, enjoy a picnic, or take out some of the available kayaks into the waters.
Tavoro Waterfall Tour on Taveuni island
It looks like this trip has been extended to include snorkeling at Civa Pearl Farm, which wasn’t part of the package when I visited (though I wish it was!). The waterfall tour however, is spectacular. A guide from the resort will take you to Taveuni Island and down a short hike to get to the waterfalls. There are two waterfalls on this trip, one that you can swim in (tho the water is cold!), and another that you can jump off of from a ledge behind the falls. Both are beautiful and were one of the main highlights of my entire visit.
Matangi Bush Hike & Coastal Walk (complementary)
You can take off at any time to walk along the coast and then follow the bush trail up to the top of the mountain in the center of the island that the resort is pressed against. This vantage point provides amazing views of the island, surrounding ocean, and horseshoe bay. Expect to be alone for the entirely of this steep hike, expect for a few resident wild goats, cows, and horses that live on the island. Don’t get too close to the animals as they aren’t domesticated and aren’t overly friendly.
Kava Session (complementary)
This is done in the main dining room at Matangi. Kava is essentially the local’s version of alcohol. It’s a root that is dried and ground into a powder. The powder is placed onto a cloth and water is poured over it (similar to making coffee). The resulting concoction is kava and is the traditional drink of Fiji. It smells a bit like socks and tastes a bit like dirt. It’s supposed to educe somewhat of a euphoric sensation, relaxing you while still staying mentally sharp. All it did for me was make my tongue numb, but it’s absolutely worth giving a try and something you will likely not be able to do anywhere else.
Village Tour and/or Sunday Church Service on Qamea island (complementary)
The best way to get to know what it’s really like to live in Fiji. This tour will take you to a local village on the next island over, where many of the staff live. You’ll meet the village chief and drink kava, take a tour of their homes, speak with some of the locals (a few can speak English) and visit the school (where the kids sang us their very best American song, “McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Pizza Hut”.)
Sunday Church Service is exactly what you’d expect – a church service where the pastor gives a sermon all in Fijian. I couldn’t understand any of what was said, but I can safely assume that their God is an Old Testament type of God given the veracity in which he spoke.
These tours are worth more than the rest of the trip combined. There are beautiful beaches and oceans and waterfalls all over the world, but there is only one Fiji and this is the best way to experience the culture and get to know the people and how they live.