Bula Vinaka, Matangi! Magic in Fiji– Part I

Flying over Fiji

Flying over Fiji

“Bula means hello, good, welcome… it has many meanings, but all things that are good. “ Marica (Maretha) patiently explained to me, my second night in Fiji. “Vinaka is thank you, but it also has many meanings. Together, they mean many things, all of them good. Bula Vinaka; it’s all good!” Her smile so warm and sincere is reflected in all of the faces I have met in this enchanted place. Everyone smiles; everyone calls out Bula, wherever you go.


Smart Guy and I arrived at Matangi Resort three days ago and have been floating on a cloud ever since. The resort is on the private island of Matangi, owned and operated by the Douglas Family: Flora, Noel, (both 5th generation Fijians) and daughter Christene, who runs the office and handles arrangements with guests. Upon arrival, we were welcomed, as all guests are, with beautiful native song, fresh coconut juice, shell leis and wonderful smiling faces. And every minute since our arrival has been heaven on earth! The color of the water– how many shades of blue are there? The greens of the jungle and gardens, the flowers that are everywhere, the constant lull of the sea lapping the shore… there could not be a more peaceful, wonderful place– and if there is, I am perfectly content and happy to have landed here instead.

I won the airline tickets for this trip on Bucket List Publications (vinaka Lesley!), in a contest they hosted with Fiji Airlines, fifteen months ago.  At the time we had a German exchange student arriving and our youngest child, Little Man, was entering his senior year of high school. It was not the right time to take a trip to Fiji– a trip that I’ve dreamed of since going to Australia in 1982, when I could not afford the stopover in Fiji. We have been very fortunate and lucky, to have done some remarkable travel as a family, but Fiji was always in the back of my mind. When I won the tickets it was truly stunning, but as we put it off part of me thought it might not happen.1920190_10152326824381300_3495453710150240257_n

However, this past spring we finally booked the air portion and started reading resort reviews on Trip Advisor. Honestly, the options were totally daunting! Even with free airfare, a trip to Fiji is not for the faint of heart, cost wise or travel wise– it took us 30+ hours to get here (4 planes, one van, and a boat), from the west coast! Of course, there are many options for accommodations– from back packer stays to resorts that can cost upwards of $5000 a night; trust me, we looked at most of them! There are 322 islands that make up Fiji, and after hours of reading, we decided to spend our two weeks at two different resorts. Turtle Island was our first choice, and when we were running out of steam, someone suggested we look at Matangi as the other destination.

After three days here, I can’t imagine wanting to go anywhere else!

Imagine a South Pacific paradise that is run as if you are good friends, or family, returning home. Imagine owners who share their stories– amazing tales of a Fijian princess and an Australian adventurer, who marry and buy an island in the 1800s, and the generations who have since loved and treasured that island. Imagine a family who has worked hard to make their dream of a creating a very special resort, that you get to be a part of that… this is all a part of Matangi. Admittedly, I’m not an expert; this is my first resort in Fiji. However, my husband and I don’t like too feel removed from the places we visit; we love to share in the culture and magic of a place. While we’re not naïve enough to believe that we are enjoying a purely authentic Fijian experience, it’s hard to imagine that any tourist can. However, if you are looking to find a piece of paradise, that is seamlessly operated and designed to make every moment peaceful and exceptional, it can be found here, at Matangi. From the staff in the beautiful open air dining room to the women who rake the beach, or work in the spa, or feed the animals, all day someone is calling out “Bula!” If you like privacy and quiet, then they respect that and give you your space; however, if you enjoy chatting with people who live here about Fijian culture and lives, they are warm and generous.

Tomorrow we will go to a private beach, Horsehoe Bay, where we’ll be able to explore the spectacular reef; enjoy a crescent-shaped beach all to ourselves, and take in the natural beauty of this stunning place. The staff will deliver our lunch at 11:30, but otherwise we will be on our own to enjoy this island paradise.

Bula Vinaka, Matangi!

If you are considering travel to Fiji, check out Matangi Private Island Resort– for the traveler who enjoys a truly cultural, completely relaxed exchange and experience, while still enjoying exquisite accommodations. Matangi is family owned and run and it really shows!  Book directly with Christene Douglas: admin@matangiisland.com for reservations.  Mention this post and receive a 7 night stay, for the cost of 5 nights.  (good if mentioned through January 2015, and booked directly) Check out their website here: http://matangiisland.com/

Note: this is part one of what will be several posts. There are too many details to focus on, for one post. Instead, I wanted to introduce readers to this incredible place, and then take them along as we make new discoveries each day.  All photos were taken with and used here, with permission of the people in them.

* I did not receive any goods or services in exchange for any reviews I’m writing here.

*     *    *

Make me smile; HELP ME REACH MY GOAL:  I’d love to see my Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 500 likes in 2014. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, it’s where I try to be brief.  Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, with no spam.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Beautiful places, Beauty, Blog, Musings, My world, Natural beauty, Nature, Snorkeling, Tales From the Motherland, travel, Wonderful Things, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Bula Vinaka, Matangi! Magic in Fiji– Part I

  1. Dawn, Perfectly lovely. I’ll be looking forward to reading your other posts on this trip. 🙂 — Susan


  2. Have a great time! Sometimes it’s nice to have a kickback vacation that isn’t all about extreme activities and just about exploring and relaxing. Sounds perfect!


  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh, how gorgeous. Good for you! But I’m a wee bit jealous…


  4. veronicad1 says:

    LOVE Fiji! Jim and I went in 1994–I still have my shell lei! Enjoy every minute of rest and relaxation and connection!


  5. Melanie says:

    Oh it sounds and looks like heaven!


  6. Maryanne says:

    Sounds like paradise. Enjoy!!


  7. hbksloss says:

    How beautiful! I spent one day in Fiji last spring in transit from Australia to the states and loved my short stay there. It is a place that I would love to return to someday. Glad I’ll get to enjoy your visit from my arm chair.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Enjoy, enjoy, for you and us!


  9. amac says:

    Lucky lucky gal


  10. jgroeber says:

    Holy cow! In awe. Jealous. Wondering when I can plan a visit to Fiji. Looking forward to the next posts.
    Just gorgeous! And if I couldn’t be there, I’d choose you to go. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Renata says:

    Wow, what a trip. You say that you and your husband “don’t like to feel removed from the places we visit; we love to share in the culture and magic of a place.” I’m sorry, but how is staying at a resort that costs (at least) thousands of dollars “experiencing” the culture of a place where more than a third of its people live in poverty? Many places in fiji don’t have basic infrastructure, but you somehow think staying in a resort with a spa is “close” to an authentic Fijan experience?

    I assume you have at one point in your life worked a service job. Most of us do. I can tell you, from my experience working service jobs, I smiled. I laughed. I acted like I was having the best time and sharing meaningful experiences with my clients. Why? Because they tip me. Because I needed a job. Because the more I pretend, the more likely I am to earn something close to a living wage. Believe me, no one’s dream job is waiting on rich americans. No one gets up in the morning thinking, “Oh gosh, I just can’t wait to have my clients towels waiting for them when they get out of the pool!”

    You somehow seem to fool yourself into thinking you are having an “authentic” experience while paying more money than most westerners can afford, let alone Fijans, to buy yourself an experience that is as far from authentic as you can get.


    • Renata, I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and share your (very strong) feelings. Your comments are well stated and surely accurate, to a point. However, you don’t know me, and your comment comes off very judgmental and harsh. I’m guessing that you have not read any of my other work, and that you know very little about me.

      It’s interesting that you throw the word “authentic” back at me several times, and seem intent on diminishing the experience– when I stated “While we’re not naïve enough to believe that we are enjoying a purely authentic Fijian experience,” that may not be possible, as a “Westerner.” Despite saying that, your final comment is that I’ve fooled myself into something.

      However, again you don’t know me and you don’t know this place. The owners are 5th generation Fijian; there are no tips allowed; the villagers who work here have been a part of this island for many years, many of them passing up better paying jobs at fancier resorts, to work with family in a very close knit community. It was clear from day one that if we wanted to be treated like tourists, they would leave us alone… instead, I’ve shared very intimate talks, hikes and time with the locals who live here. I can tell you this: I know sincerity when I feel it, and I have had some very sincere times with the people here. We have shared things that I wouldn’t discuss in this blog, but our time has been very special. You can’t fake that. While I am sure that this staff, like all staff anywhere, must have to fake it (as you describe), they don’t have to when we share mutual respect. The fact that I can afford this trip, doesn’t mean I am disrespectful, fooled, or insensitive. If you knew me, you might understand… but you don’t. You’ve judged me based on your own experiences.

      Since you ask, yes I have worked service jobs, for many, many years. I don’t for a minute take for granted what we have now, and what we are able to do– but I won’t apologize for that either. I’m sorry that my ability to take a trip like this leads you to assume so many negative things about me. This is not how we always travel. We chose Matangi because we were told by a local contact that it was a “very different” experience; it is.

      Again, thank you for taking the time for reading my work and for sharing your thoughts.


      • Mike Lince says:

        Renata’s snarky comments struck me as inexplicably disparaging. I commend you for your eloquent and tactful response.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I absolutely believe she has a right to her opinions– admittedly, it took me off guard, initially. However, with time what bothered me most about her comment was it made me wonder: So, should I not write a positive post about my experience? Should I assume that any positive interaction, within a “service industry” connected interaction, is insincere and money generated– and thus, less valid? Do I dismiss all kindness, if a tip or payment is involved? Interesting thoughts… that circled me back to the reality that she knows her own experience, not all experiences in this area. I choose authenticity. Thanks for your support, Mike!


  12. susanissima says:

    What an adorable adventure, Dawn. I could almost hear the palm fronds clattering in the warm breeze!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a deeply moving and wonderful first week, Susan. The 2nd week is very beautiful, but much more like the comment Renata made– more resorty and less “authentic” and mellow. I’m pretty sure that all of Fiji is beautiful, but very different place. Heaven is heaven, but the first week was definitely a unique and magical time/place! Thanks for taking the time, friend. xo


  13. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Wow, what an awesome trip. So glad you got to go to Fiji! 🙂


  14. Pingback: Fiji: It Really is About the People– Fiji Magic part 2 | TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND

  15. Mike Lince says:

    You certainly know how to live right, and your story proves it. I admit to being just a tiny bit envious, but then who wouldn’t be when it is gray and rainy outside here in Western Washington in November as I read your story. As a seasoned traveler, I am also proud of you for enduring the grind of airports and long flights to put yourself in a position to enjoy such a fantastic vacation! – Mike


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