So you’ve surely noticed that we haven’t been writing as much as we usually do and that’s because we’ve settle in here a bit in the Mamanuca Islands. You see Dan had to make a trip back to the states to walk his youngest daughter down the aisle so we needed to be in a place that was close to an airport and one that was a good spot for me to stay on the boat while he was away.
Where did we decide to stay? Musket Cove. We chose it for the above reasons but also because there are other islands nearby that we can cruise to for a few days at a time so we didn’t have to stay here the entire three months. We took several trips to the other islands and enjoyed some great times in the Mamanucas and the Yasawas. We can say too that choosing Musket Cove as a sort of base turned out to be a great decision. It has great, safe moorings, wonderful restaurants & bars, clear waters, amazing people and it’s pretty well protected.
When we arrived here at Musket Cove we were greeted by some friends of Dan’s from Mexico. Bob & Joyce of SV Chara have been in the South Pacific for a couple of years so it was nice for them to catch up again and they were a wealth of information with regards to the area. We met at the island bar that first evening and they gave us all the ins and outs of the area while we tipped a few brews and ate a wonderful, very spicy pizza.
Musket Cove Resort & Marina is located on Malolo Lailai Island, which is a two and a half hour motor trip from Port Denarau on the western side of Viti Levu. There are three resorts on the island but the one the yachties prefer is Musket Cove. There’s a marina and resort at Musket Cove and they cater to the cruising community. The island is 800 acres of beautiful palm trees, vibrant flowers and lush, rolling hills. It’s just big enough to do a little hiking and exploring. In fact the day after our arrival we took an early morning hike around the island with Bob & Joyce. There’s a dirt road that takes you out of the resort, up the hill and across to the other side of the island. When you get to the top the views are simply spectacular! And, the hike isn’t too strenuous so even a person like me who has asthma can do it in the heat.
A little recent history about the island would probably be appropriate here…In the early 1960s, the island was bought by three men, Richard “Dick” Smith, Reginald Raffe and Sir Ian MacFarlane. The three men each decided to develop their own part of the island. They built an airstrip in the middle and in 1969 Reginald Raffe opened Plantation Island Resort with just six rooms. Dick Smith built Musket Cove and opened it in October 1975 with twelve bures. At the time it was called Dick’s Place. Sir Ian MacFarlane eventually sold his share of the island to Smith and Raffe and it is now divided in half by the airstrip. In the early 2000s Raffe’s children opened an adults only resort on his end of the island. It’s Lomani Island Resort.
Each resort has it’s own feel. Plantation Resort is more geared toward children with playgrounds, kid’s pools etc. They allow yachties to visit, eat at their restaurant and drink at their bar but they don’t make it overly easy. You have to go in to the main office and buy a gift card of sorts because they don’t take cash at the restaurant or bar. Their food is okay and a little cheaper than that at Musket Cove. If you love kids you’d probably enjoy the atmosphere. For us it’s a bit loud and chaotic with throngs of kids running around while you’re trying to eat or have a beer.
We haven’t been to Lomani Resort but understand it to be a quite posh and rather costly couples resort. We also understand that they are not too keen on having non-guests visit their resort so we can only go by what we’ve heard and seen on the internet. It certainly looks like a beautiful place and at $800 to $1300 FJD per night plus food it definitely isn’t for the budget minded traveler.
We’re really enjoying Musket Cove. They have three restaurants here. There’s the Island Bar…our favorite spot and the place where the yachties like to gather for sundowners and share an evening meal. They have grills there where you can bring your own meat to grill or you can purchase meat them and grill it yourself. They also have one of the best pizzas ever! It’s called the Volcano pizza and it has bongo peppers (really hot Fijian peppers), jalpenos, onions, ham and bacon. We have this about once a week.
They have a small café at the resort reception area that serves sandwiches, pizza, roasted chicken and smaller breakfasts and then there’s also Dick’s Place. It is the resort restaurant that surrounds the pool right along the beach. They have a wonderful seafood buffet every Saturday night that includes all you can eat lobster and prime rib. Well, who doesn’t love that?
Yes, our time here has been delightful and getting to know the locals is what’s made it so. The local Fijians who work here are just wonderful, welcoming and amazing people. We have learned since we’ve been here that resort work is good work but also hard on Fijian families. You see, most of these workers live in Nadi or somewhere on the “mainland”. They work out here for as long as 25 days at a time and then take the ferry home for five days. While here the resorts provide them with lodging but those with children are often forced to be away from their families for long periods of time. While they are on the island working their families, parents, grandparents etc…take care of their children. It’s definitely not an ideal situation for them at all but the money is usually better than what they could earn on the mainland so they do it. There’s no doubt the Fijian people are a hardworking lot.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our favorite bartenders, Va & Josie who work at the Island Bar. They take such excellent care of us and always greet us with a beautiful smile, hearty “Bula”and a frosty cold Fiji Gold. Having been in and out of here so much in the past three months we feel like they are family. In fact, when we come back after a few days or week cruising the nearby islands, it’s almost like coming home.
Yes, we’ve truly enjoyed our time here at Musket Cove and while we would have liked to have spent more time cruising the Mamanuca & Yasawa Islands, this year it just wasn’t in the cards. Oh well, there’s always next season.
If you’re coming to Fiji whether by boat or plane and you’re looking for a great place to get away yet still be just a ferry ride from the mainland then we’d highly recommend Musket Cove. It has everything you need for a great Fijian getaway.
Until next time,
Jilly & Dan
P.S. As you can see from the feature photo Grape Ape is really loving it here too. He enjoys the freedom of running around the island, climbing trees and swimming in the clear aqua waters.