Why Turtle Island Fiji Resort Is a Bucket-List Tropical Vacation
Meet Turtle Island Fiji, a Legendary Beach Resort
Do you love upscale tropical resorts? Then you know that there's an elite class of small beach resorts that are legends: true bucket-list hotels. When you get there, they feel like heaven. They are perfect, or close to it. Turtle Island Fiji is one of these labeled beach resorts. Check out Turtle Fiji's website
Turtle Island Fiji Resort Is Ultra-Upscale
Turtle Island is an extremely appealing place. It is very high-end and rather pricey; you need serious bucks to stay here. Quite a few guests are prominent citizens who have done quite well financially.
Despite its exclusivity, Turtle Island is completely relaxed. There's no competition here for the best car in the valet lot, the latest clothes at dinner, the biggest diamond ring or slimmest figure.
Guests come to Turtle Island to chill out, go barefoot, splash in turquoise waters, and hobnob with other guests. And many keep coming back; the repeat-guest rate here is off the charts.
What Is Turtle Island Like?
Turtle Island Fiji is a small beachfront resort on a dreamy, 500-acre private island in Fiji. Some quick facts:
• Turtle Island is a super-high-end all-inclusive resort, including normally expensive elements like scuba diving, horseback riding, and French Champagne (however, tips and seaplane transfers are extra)
• It is tiny, with only 14 beach cottages, an intimate-feeling boutique hotel
• The only guests accepted: couples (or doubles) who are English-speaking adults
• Exception: children are welcome during a few designated weeks called Turtle Island Family Time
• The place is romantic, with private beach lunches and dinners offered daily
• Turtle Island hosts at least one honeymoon duo every week
• The minimum stay is five nights
• Turtle Island has no in-room TVs or wifi (a nightly movie is shown in the bar)
Turtle Island Fiji Is Very Far Away (But Worth It)
Where is Fiji? It is an island nation set just below the equator in the South Pacific. It is far --almost the whole way to New Zealand and Australia.
North Americans get there on Fiji Airways, which flies nonstop from LAX. The flight to Fiji is 11 and a half hours going, and 10 and a half return. Because you cross the dateline, you arrive two days after you left LA. (You gain back one of the days flying home.) When you get to Fiji, you board a small seaplane for a short flight to Turtle Island.
Fiji is a storybook destination. It is tropical, unspoiled, English-speaking, and exquisitely welcoming. Find out more about what makes Fiji such a seductive destination
What's so Great About Turtle Island Resort?
The remoteness of Turtle Island adds to its magical quality. When you are there you feel like you are under a spell. Turtle Island exists to pamper guests. The days roll by without a care. You are surrounded by beauty, by caring people, by sparkling seas and starry nights.
Will You, Personally, Like Turtle Island Fiji?
Will Turtle Island Fiji Be Your Vacation Bliss?
Turtle Island Fiji will probably be one of your best vacations ever if...
• You have someone special to travel with, and plenty of time (the minimum stay is a week, and the journey is epic)
• You have no problem paying upwards of $2,000 a night all-inclusive per couple
• You love lazing on the beach and swimming or snorkeling in bath-warm ocean waters
• You're a scuba diver (this is the rare resort where dives are included)
• You're prepared to go off the grid (the only wifi here is at the boutique porch, and it's not a strong signal)
• Your own travel bucket list includes "tropical resort on a private island in the South Pacific"
Turtle Island Fiji may not prove to be your tropical bliss if...
• You want to be alone 24/7 with your companion (this is a very social resort)
• Or you want to dine at a private table for two at every meal (dining is communal here)
• You like a choice of restaurants, cuisines, and menu dishes (there's one restaurant and one entree per night here)
• You expect European-style fine design
• You prefer pool to ocean swimming (no pool here)
• You need a TV in your room and ample wifi
• You want the option of golf, tennis, and other traditional resort activities
• You love dressing up every evening in chic resort wear and heels (Turtle Fiji is very casual)
• You have an aversion to creepy-crawly creatures who find their way into tropical accommodations the world over
The Romantic Guest Cottages at Turtle Island Fiji
Traditional Fijian Lodgings at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Turtle Island guests stay in 14 one-bedroom beachfront bures. Thirteen of the bures are identical except for their placement along the beach.
• Bure means "home" in Fijian and rhymes with hooray"
Bure #1, set on Vonu Point at the end of the resort's half-mile-long crescent beach, is larger than the others, with two bedrooms, an entertainment patio, plunge pool, and more.
What Turtle Island's Bure Cottages Are Like
Turtle Island's bures are tropical, comfortable, and private. They were renovated in 2015-2016 and avoid every one of the sneaky corner-cutting hotel room features that luxury travelers watch out for. Bures contain:
• A bedroom area with a super-comfy king bed
• A living area with couches and wet bar
• A huge bathroom with twin sinks, two toilet stalls, counters, walk-in mosaic shower
• And outside, a stone shower and hand-tiled tub
• Tons of storage: closets, drawers, shelves|
• Some bures have indoor Jacuzzis
• Amenities provided include rain slickers, flashlights, insect repellent (but not SPF)
• Bures offer air-conditioning and also floor and ceiling fans. Refreshing trade winds flutter over the island and through bures' louvered windows
Indoor-Outdoor Living at Turtle Island
Bures are designed for indoor-outdoor life. You can expect:
• A shower and deep tub behind the bure, enclosed in stone walls
• A very large front porch looking over the beach, with chairs, a table suitable for drinks and snacks, and a queen-size daybed
• In front of your bure, on the sand, is a hammock and easy chairs under a shade tree
Drawbacks of Turtle Island Bures
Bures are very nice and hard to find fault with. The bedroom area is the most pleasing style-wise. But If you're expecting designer furniture and art-covered walls, this is not the place. The bures are rustic, handsome, and comfortable, but they are not the last word in decor.
• Like all tropical bungalows, creepy-crawly creatures find their way inside. Turtle Island does a good job keeping them at bay, but you will spot some
• Bure selection tips: bures numbers 8 and higher are farther from the dock and quieter. However, these bures are set amidst trees a bit back from the beach
• Bures 2 through 5 are set a few steps from the sand
Feeling the Love at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Turtle Island Fiji Resort Is Very Welcoming...Make that Loving
Experienced travelers know that what makes a hotel or resort truly memorable isn't the designer sheets or marble bathroom. What sticks in travelers' minds is a hotel's service, good or bad. The best service is provided by hotel personnel who make you feel welcomed, valued, and loved.
This is what guests experience at Turtle Island. There are more workers than guests, raising the staff-to-guest to better than one-one. And every staffer is warm and wonderful; Turtle Island management demands no less.
Everything that Turtle Island personnel do make you feel good. And this is not due only to good training and management -- but to the natural hospitality of the Fijian people. The warm feelings aren't fake or forced. These are people with love in their hearts and custom of sharing that love.
Bure Mamas and Papas at Turtle Island Fiji
Show the love how? First of all, every bure has its own private attendant, the bure mama or papa. This caregiver is a combination of the butler, housekeeper, concierge, personal manager, executive assistant, and mom (or pop).
Anything you want or need, your bure mama or papa will usually have noticed first. And he or she will make suggestions to enhance your stay, telling you about all the exciting options (like private skinny-dip picnics or dinner under the stars on a floating platform). The devotion of your bure mama or papa is a big part of the happy vibe at Turtle Island.
Other Ways Turtle Island Staffers Show the Love
• Every staffer knows your name and becomes your friend from the second you step onto the dock. (Actually, lady guests are carried off the seaplane by two strapping Fijian warriors.)
• Everything about you is noted immediately, and your preferences honored without asking: how you like your toiletries arranged in your bathroom; how sweet you like your Fijian rum mojito; your ban on red meat and your liking for sea salt and chili peppers; your preference for a back pillow on your dining chair)
• When you show up at breakfast, a charming Fijian woman gives you a hug and says "good morning, I love you"
• And you get the same treatment after dinner, too...and you believe it!
It Starts Well Before You Arrive
Guests experience Turtle Island's commitment to service as soon as they get in touch with the resort to make a booking. The resort's US-based client relations and sales and marketing team take charge of everything for you. They answer every possible question you may have and coordinate your domestic-to-LAX flights. You get a strong sense of Turtle Island's guest-first policy just from them.
In a nutshell, Turtle Island Fiji offers some of the warmest hospitality services in the world. Find out more about what makes hotel service five-star service.
Lovebirds and Celebrating Couples at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Turtle Island: a Habitat for Lovebirds on Their Honeymoon or Anniversary
There's always a honeymoon couple or two at Turtle Island. They may be in their twenties and enjoying their Fiji honeymoon as a wedding gift from parents. Or they may be more established and have footed the bill themselves. Learn more about honeymoons on Turtle Island.
Other couples are on Turtle Island to celebrate an occasion: a birthday, anniversary, vow renewal, promotion, retirement, IPO, you name it.
Romantic Things You Can Do on Turtle Island
Just being here is seductive. But Turtle Island's management has thought of everything you can experience that enhances the resort's inherent romance. Some examples:
• Right in your bure cottage: Champagne-accompanied baths for two in the outdoor stone-tile tub; cuddling on your porch daybed and beach hammock; watching the sunset or the night sky from your beach chairs
• Private lunch picnics (ride included) on several beaches around the island; skinny-dipping is encouraged!
• A private Champagne dinner on a floating pontoon under the blazing stars
Celebrity Guests at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
There May Be Some Famous Folks at Turtle Island. Just Act Natural
Usually, people in the public eye go the undercover route and choose to vacation in a secluded private villa instead of a hotel.
But sometimes a resort is discreet and upscale enough to feel private, and these individuals can let go of their burden of fame.
Who Has Come Out of Their Celebrity Shell at Turtle Island?
A range of well-known personalities has vacationed on Turtle Island. The destination has been in the spotlight ever since it served as the setting of the 1980 movie "Blue Lagoon," starring Brooke Shields. Among Turtle Island's high-profile honeymoon couples: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, and later, Jessica Simpson and Brian Lachey.
Political figures come to Turtle Island to relax (and maybe plan a comeback campaign). Former U.S. Senators Al Gore and John McCain have vacationed here (which makes the resort another thing they have in common).
Turtle Island has always attracted athletes. Its founder, Richard Evanson, an American from Washington State, has been friends with many pro athletes who have come to visit.
A few years back, a slim sixty-something couple vacationed on Turtle Island. Friendly Richard had an Engish accent and said he'd been active in the music business. Barbara was a tall, pretty American. Before boarding the seaplane back to the main island, Richard launched into a lively drum solo on the wooden dock. Then he signed the guest book. Richard Starkey: better known as The Beatles' Ringo Starr.
Healthy Yet Delicious Food at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Turtle Island Dining and Drinking
The dining at all-inclusive resorts is always not of the highest quality. But Turtle Island is an extraordinary resort, with outstanding food and beverage. The style: hearty but healthy dining.
You will like Turtle Island's food if you:
• Love ocean-fresh seafood and fresh-picked organic vegetables
• Hope to eat deliciously on vacation without gaining weight
• Need to have your dietary restrictions followed scrupulously (they will be here)
You might not be thrilled with Turtle Island dining if you:
• Want a choice of restaurants and menu selections
• Would rather dine on Michelin-style art-on-a-plate than on hearty seafood and rice
• Prefer casual food, and your go-to dinner is pizza or a burger
You Dine Outdoors and Together at Turtle Island
Meals are served communally, on a long table set on the beach. (If it happens to be raining, you dine in a covered section of the indoor-outdoor dining pavilion)
• However, several meals are served in other outdoor locations, like a barbecue lunch and a Fijian pig-roast dinner
• If you'd rather be by yourselves, dinner can be brought to your bure
What Meals Are Like at Turtle Island
Breakfast is the only meal with a menu. You can order any kind of egg or omelet dish or other cooked dishes like pancakes, French toast, or oatmeal.
• A tropical touch: South Pacific spiny lobster can be added to your egg dish
• There's also a breakfast buffet with breads and pastries (made in-house), cold cereals, fresh fruit, and fruit juice
• You can show up for breakfast any time before around 11 am
Lunch is also walk-in. It's served from 12:30 until around 2 pm.
• Lunch is a set menu several wonderful offerings, like fresh seafood with garden greens or a prawn curry
• You can also order fried and grilled items like spring rolls, burgers, and fries•
Dinner: Always Something to Look Forward to at Turtle Island
Dinner is served at 7 every evening following cocktails at 6:30. This is the gourmet event.
• Dinner begins with appetizers like samosas, fish fritters, and fresh garden salad
• One festive main dish served (though special requests are taken)
• Usually, it's seafood, caught that day and imaginatively prepared and toothsomely seasoned
• Cooking style may be Thai, with mint and ginger; Indian, with curry; Mediterranean-grilled
• Or the dish may be done in simple and delicious Fijian cuisine style, cooked over an open flame and served with rice and roasted coconut and banana
• Side dishes include just-picked garden produce like spinach, squash, and peppers; and also starchy tubers like sweet potato, taro, and cassava
• Dessert is usually Western-style cake or pie with ice cream
• At all times, your eating restrictions and preferences are respected and remembered
Top-Shelf Liquor at Turtle Island
High-end booze is included in Turtle Island's room rates, and the bar is always open. You can have as much hooch as you want, whenever you want -- before, during, after, or in-between meals. Highlights of the liquor program:
• Champagne at the drop of a chapeau (when I visited, house brands were the classy French labels Taittinger and Moet
• A full selection of international spirits including single-malt Scotch whiskey, Kentucky bourbon, Fijian and Caribbean rum, Russian vodka, Mexican tequila, Italian grappa, French cognac and liqueurs like Grand Marnier
• International beers including Vonu lager made in Fiji
• Excellent oenophile-quality wines with dinner, from all over the world
• In your bure fridge, any liquor you request
• The bar's most popular cocktail is its standout mojito, with mint fresh from the resort garden
Turtle Island Fiji Resort's Sensational Snorkeling and Diving
Board a Boat for Complimentary Scuba Diving...or Snorkel Out of Your Front Yard
One remarkable aspect of Turtle Island Fiji's all-inclusive pricing is that scuba dives are part of the deal. For a week's stay, you get five one-tank dives with about 45 minutes of "bottom time" each. Your mask and fins, worn for both scuba and snorkeling, are lent free by the resort.
Taking the dives is a significant time commitment, though. You're picked up by motorboat and taken to a dive shop a half hour away. There, you get fitted for your wetsuit and gear. Then you climb on the dive boat and motor to the dive site, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes away. Post-dive goes faster, as the dive boat usually brings you back to Turtle Island directly. Still, this is a three-hour chunk of your precious time at Turtle Island.
Comparing Turtle Island's Snorkeling to Diving
• You don't need to take a boat to a snorkel site. There's a thriving reef right beside the resort, surrounding Joe's Point at the end of the beach. You can enter the water right in front of your bure and swim over, or walk down the beach (depending on where your bure is located, a walk of between two and 10 minutes)
• This observation is not usually the case. But at Turtle Island, I could see more marine life snorkeling at Joe's Point than you could see sixty feet underwater in a scuba dive a half-hour boat ride away
• You can snorkel whenever you want, as long as there's some sunlight
• You won't have as many water-in-the-ear issues with snorkeling
Private Adventures at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Lots of Things to Do on Turtle Island
Some guests come to Turtle Island to do very little. Others come planning to explore the island and its surrounding sapphire sea. No one will push you to do anything, but it's all there if you want it.
Included in your Turtle Island rate:
• Horseback riding on trails or beach (a stable full of gentle horses live right on the island)
• Picnic lunches for two at a secluded beach, prepared by the kitchen, with rides included
• Scuba and snorkeling (plus all equipment)
• Kayaking, windsurfing, standup paddleboarding
• Golf-cart tour of the island, the day you arrive
• Choral and dance performances by villagers
• Weekly "booze cruise" with Champagne and dancing
• Nightly movie in the bar pavilion
• See a complete rundown of Turtle Island activities
Sample excursions not included in your Turtle Island rate:
• Escorted visit to a village on a neighboring island, with lunch and crafts shopping
• Snorkel trip through a rock cave, with spooky stories and lunch (you get there via boat or seaplane)
Things You Can't Do at Fiji Island Resort
• No pools, no cabanas
• No golf or tennis
• No casino, disco, theater
No Gym at Fiji Island Resort
There's no workout room at Turtle Island. But the whole island is a fitness facility. Fitness-minded guests work their muscles with:
• Ocean swimming and snorkeling right outside their bure cottage
• A daily scuba dive or snorkel trip, included in the rate
• Kayaking, windsurfing, standup paddleboarding
• Barefoot jogs and romantic walks on the beach
• Hiking on the island's hilly paths
• Dancing during the resort's occasional parties
Almost No Wifi at Turtle Island Fiji Resort. Could You Deal?
The Wi-fi Issue
Turtle Island encourages (and fosters) romance, relaxation, and conversation. It discourages work and staring at a phone or iPad. Bure cottages not only lack TVs, they are not wifi-enabled. So forget chilling out with your device in your bure.
The only wifi available to guests is on the porch surrounding the resort boutique. You can sit comfortably there on a settee and a couple of chairs. But this is not a place where you want to spend much time.
• The wifi signal is not a strong one
• The boutique is set in a relatively busy part of this quiet resort, beside the kitchen entrance and the resort's one truck path; the wifi porch is not exactly a corner of paradise
But There's an Ample Silver Lining
Of course, guests discuss and debate the wifi issue.
Some said that they learned to love watching the incredible night sky over the Southern Hemisphere, and tuned their ears to the songs of tropical birds singing and the exuberant splashes of fish. I could not agree more.
Fijian Culture at Turtle Island Resort
Who Are the Fijians?
Every guest wonders: who are these welcoming, good-looking people? Some Fijians say that their ancestors came from Africa on wooden longboats. Today it is known that the people who settled on Fiji's islands thousands of years ago came from two regions of the South Seas -- Melanesians and Polynesians. The Melanesian became dominant, but Fijian customs blend the two cultures. Find out more about Fiji's past.
Fijians Express Themselves in Music and Dance
Every day of their stay, Turtle Island guests are treated to Fijian artistry: their vocal music and their dancing. These age-old traditions are rooted in the fact that Fijian is not a written language. The culture's legends and lore were passed down and preserved in storytelling, singing, and dancing.
To this day, Fijians grow up singing in choruses and church choirs. Everyone seems to sing, and beautifully. Nearly every day at Turtle Island includes a group choral performance, whether the bure mamas' chorus, the local schoolchildren's choir, and, on one exciting night, a troupe of handsome Fijian men, singing and spear-dancing in their brief traditional dress.
Morning and night, bure mamas and papas walk the beach, softly serenading guests and welcoming the sun and stars.
Turtle Island Guests Share in Fiji's Proud Kava Ceremony
You can experience kava only in Fiji, and it's definitely boast-worthy.
Kava is a medicinal substance brewed from the roots of a Fijian plant and made into a warm drink (or, kava tea). It has a mild, drug-like effect that is typically both relaxing and cheering, a la Champagne. Like all substances, kava affects everyone a little differently. Some people feel nothing; others feel high.
Kava is a central element of Fijian social life: people get together and share the kava ritual. Turtle Island faithfully observes the ritual. First, the kava root is slowly simmered with water over an open fire in a stone bowl to create a broth. The kava bowl is brought to the gathering, whose participants sit cross-legged in a circle. Wielding a coconut shell, the kava master ladles the broth into wooden bowls. When everyone has a bowl, you offer blessings and drink the kava.
Find out more about Fiji's unique custom of kava-brewing and drinking.
Vonu Spa at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Aah, the Spa at Turtle Island
One of the pleasures of visiting the South Seas is indulging in a blissful massage under the magic hands of a Pacific Islander. You can indulge in this pleasure at Turtle Island's Vonu Spa.
Every couple staying at Turtle Island is granted a complimentary half-hour couple's massage. They have the option to continue for another half hour. Most do. Add the music of tropical songbirds and the floral fragrances of Fijian massage oil, and the experience is intoxicating.
A Nightly Star Show at Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Turtle Island Has No TVs but a Giant Screen: the Southern Hemisphere Sky
One of the many amazements of Turtle Island is the night sky. Out here below the equator, thousands of miles from "city glow," the sky is stunningly clear.
You'll see the Milky Way's stars dusted over a swath of sky like talcum powder. You'll see constellations invisible in the Northern Hemisphere, like the Southern Cross. And if you're lucky, you will spy shooting stars. The cosmic panorama is mesmerizing.
The view of the sky changes as the Earth moves around the sun, causing constellations to come into and out of view. You can download many good star maps for free as apps; check your Google Play Store or iTunes.
Stargazing on Turtle Island
There's no formal skywatching activity on Turtle Island. Guests simply gawk up at the midnight blue-and-silver canopy. Often, they have an after-dinner drink in hand. You will see, it beats TV.
One popular option for stargazer guests is the Pontoon Dinner. Every night, two couples dine on the water, under the stars, on one of two wooden platforms anchored near the dock. You are brought there by boat, and your dinner follows. The raft is barely lit with tiki torches, ensuring an uncompromised view of the blazing heavens. I have never dined in more celestial surroundings.
Your Own Private Seaplane to and from Turtle Island Fiji Resort
How to Get to Turtle Island: on a Private Seaplane
Turtle Island is set some 50 nautical miles from Fiji's Nadi International Airport in the Yasawa atoll. The distance can be covered by boat, which takes several hours. Most Turtle Island guests elect to transfer to Turtle Island by a half-hour seaplane flight.
The airline is Turtle Airways, owned by the Evanson family that owns Turtle Island. This relationship makes Turtle Airways a very easy way to get to the resort. You are met at Nadi airport when you land, then driven a couple of miles to the Turtle Airways terminal. Here, you wait for your flight to Turtle Island while enjoying Turtle Island hospitality and a snack from Nadi's favorite bakery.
A Very Exciting Flight
The flight is expensive but memorable. You climb aboard a cute, no-frills Hawker seaplane: a small plane that rests on pontoons, and takes off and lands in the water.
Turtle Airways' fleet includes four-seater seaplanes (that actually seats three in the back seat) and slightly larger models with three rows. Maple Leafers, take note: Hawkers are constructed in British Columbia, and Turtle Airways pilots tend to be young Canadians.
The plane is compact but not cramped. You buckle yourself in and put on noise-canceling headphones to drown out the din of the engines and propeller. Then, most passengers press their face to the window and keep it there.
The sights are astounding: emerald islands, turquoise seas, azure sky. You're high up enough to see the ravishing contours of coral reefs and close enough to watch the progress of boats. Aah, you think, this is the way to see the South Pacific. Flying on a seaplane is something every luxury traveler should try.
• Turtle Airways also offers sightseeing flights
Planning Your Turtle Airways Seaplane Flights
If you choose to connect to Turtle Island via Turtle Airways, your Turtle Island planning agent in the States will make everything easy.
• Find out more about Turtle Airways
• Ask about wait times; they can be up to five or six hours, in which case you can check out the other Nadi-based airlines that will fly you to Turtle Island
Find Out More About Turtle Island Fiji Resort
Where to Learn More About Turtle Island Fiji
• On Turtle Island's website
• On Facebook
• On Twitter
• On Google+
• Photos on Pinterest and on Instagram
• Videos on YouTube
• Turtle Island Fiji's mostly ecstatic reviews on TripAdvisor
• By toll-free phone from North America 800.2455.4347
Disclosure: The hotel provided complimentary access for review purposes, a standard practice in the hospitality field. For more information, please see our site's Ethics Policy.