Faraway places are far away for a reason…to allow those who journey ample time to disconnect from everyday care and connect to something more present and beautiful. That, in itself, is a journey.
A few months before the half-centennial—okay, MY half-centennial—I made a commitment to create a “second half” as significant and meaningful as the first. Looking at life as a 100-year journey, I was on the descending path down the mountain. I knew this second half needed to be created with greater intention, so I designed a trip that would inspire introspection.
By now you know I’m not telling the story of a romantic “we” who traveled to the extraordinarily romantic location of Fiji. This was a solo trip, and I made the decision to make it an unplugged trip.
Fiji is made up of 322 islands, 106 of them inhabited. It’s not one place, but many places, and it’s the South Pacific darling of Hollywood. Tom Hanks starred in Castaway just minutes from the resort. Brooke Shields starred in the Blue Lagoon, just minutes from there in Champagne Bay. Survivor, the reality show, has found Fiji to be a formidable foe, and even Jodie Foster has graced the beaches on a Fijian island in Contact.
It’s easy to see why, with crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft, white sandy beaches, Fiji is all about escape. Farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh-caught fish, clean air, water activities, luxury and, of course, the well-known Fiji water, bottled at the source add to the allure. The locals know that a slow pace, a warm drink of kava (Fiji’s national drink), and the island attitude keep the stresses of life away.
When our little speedboat arrived on the beaches of Likuliku Lagoon, we were welcomed with a punch made from fruit native to the island. Likuliku means calm waters, as it was an ancient safe harbor during times of tribal warfare.
The manager, Tulia, announced there were 57 of us on property. I quickly noticed the number was odd because of me—28 couples and me. I dismissed the awkward feeling of that and pressed on like the enthusiastic traveler that I truly was; my dinner date would not be a soccer ball named Wilson.
We were escorted to our accommodations and my beachfront bure was spacious, modern, and luxurious. It was made of straw and wood and featured a palapa-style daybed with 1,000-thread-count linens. Wide glass double doors opened to a beautiful patio overlooking lush foliage, white pristine beach, and waves gently crashing on the shore. The accommodations were peaceful and glorious. I wanted for nothing.
I walked the beach religiously every morning, collecting shells and branches. After breakfast, I hiked the protected dry forest behind the resort. It’s the largest dry forest on Malolo and one of the most endangered eco-systems in the world.
By afternoon me, my books, and I enjoyed time at the pool and a late lunch with a glass of New Zealand wine. Being just two hours from New Zealand by plane, it was the local glass.
The days were slow but full, a welcome reprieve from city life. I spent time with the iguana keeper, a trained zoologist whose full-time job is to protect and nurture the Fiji Crested Iguana, currently on the critically endangered list. I also visited the spa, Tatadra, which means “house of dreams”. (Get the Fiji Island Ritual that includes a deep cleansing facial, scalp treatment, and banana leaf wrap to promote detoxification and repairing at the deepest levels of the skin.)
Evenings were spectacular visions of sunset meets unrestrained starlight. Malolo is called the island of the resting sun and, indeed, the sunset seems to showcase the sun sitting on the horizon line like it has stalled and is resting before the full sunset.
After a number of days, I began to realize that there is this perfect rhythm that goes from sunrise to sunset, day after day. As the trip wound down, I wondered how I’d return to a connected life with all the hustle and bustle that neglects to notice a sunrise or sunset. Somehow the life I live seemed like a faraway place.
However, I had done what I set out to do—I created intention for the next chapter. Among the walking, reading, eating, and iguana-watching, I managed to fill an entire journal with thoughts for the next 50 years. And those goals and plans were so exciting and so near to my heart, that suddenly home felt nearby.
Under the Sea: The islands’ turquoise waters are rich with coral reefs, prime for diving and snorkeling with reef fish, dolphins, manta rays, and turtles. The 44 Mamanuca Islands’ dive sites feature caves, a crashed B26 Bomber from WWII, and a shipwreck. Experience the shark encounter dive at the world-famous Supermarket dive site.
Island Hopping: No matter where you stay, there are tours to see the more notable islands, like Mamanucas Island where Castaway was filmed, Mana Island, Matamanoa Island, and finally MonuRiki Island where you can stop for a swim, snorkel, and walk along the beach.
Sunset Cruise: Malolo is literally where the sun comes to rest, and a sunset cruise is the perfect way to enjoy Mother Nature’s theatrical performance of light, bubbly included.
Jet Ski Safari: A fun way to enjoy the surrounding islands and the indigenous flora and fauna is to enjoy a jet ski safari.
Catch a Wave: Some of the world’s most famous surf breaks are found along the southern part of the Malolo Barrier Reef. Tours are available to Cloudbreak, home to the Fiji Pro annual surfing championships.