Fantasy Bucket List exceeded expectations!
The specialness of Turtle Island cannot be described only in words. We saw all the words on the website of course. We read about the features and experiences and from that, we expected a certain level of service and privacy and romantic space and ambiance.
Like any well-run resort, right?
But what the words could not capture was the incredible sense of community — and yes, family — that Turtle Island represents, creates, offers, is.
When we arrived it felt like coming home and being welcomed by my very large family — plus singing, and Zak, the community dog. Within an hour of our arrival, every staff person we encountered greeted us by name. We were not just guests… we were at Jim & Cheryl.
The chef learned our dietary needs and offered alternatives anytime the group meals would not serve us (I’m a pescatarian — vegetarian plus fish). All the food was incredibly fresh. The vegetables and fruit come from the huge gardens (Tip: take the island tour and you will have a chance to experience how big & diverse these gardens are). Often the fish served was what other guests caught on a morning fishing trip. One day we had sashimi for lunch that had been a fish swimming in the ocean just two hours earlier. Can’t beat that!
If you love coconut there’s plenty of it: coconut water, creamed, toasted, shredded, cooked. (Tip: if roasted coconut husk is offered as an appetizer or during the cocktail hour at any time, try it. It is caramelized from grilling and tastes unlike any other coconut we’ve ever had!)
Each bure (Fijian for villa or cottage) has their own Bure Mama who takes care of a couple throughout the entire trip. Our Bure Mama, Wati, took care of the Bure of course, and so much more. She was our host when we needed one, our personal server when we had our private, our tour guide when we visited other islands and villages, and even our personal wake up service on the morning we greeted the sunrise on horseback!
The best part of Turtle Island is the intimacy we experienced as a couple. Our bure, while very close to the water, offered privacy and space just for us. Every other day we had a different private beach to ourselves from mid morning to mid afternoon with a custom lunch delivered at a time we selected, complete with wine, rum, and fabulous food served on real plates with real silverware… A very upscale picnic! On the alternating nights, we had private dinners at various spots around the islands–on a floating pontoon, at the cliff point, on the beach. The other days we joined the couples who were not dining privately for lunch or dinner at the communal center. Sometimes that was under roof and often it was on a long table set up on the beach. Select staff joined us for the community meals, so we were always learning more about the island, the food, Fiji and Fijian life, and adventures in general. Beautiful views, great food, and great conversations were constant companions.
Each evening at sunset (before people headed off to private dinners) the community gathered for drinks and appetizers AND to greet new arrivals and say farewell to those departing via seaplane the next day. So we always felt like we knew everyone, even as players changed. After dinner, there were more opportunities (always optional!) to gather with the staff for evening Kava ceremonies, and some evenings there was singing, dancing, or cultural activities. During these times we got to know the names of staff members as well as they knew ours. As a professional consultant who works in the space of culture and leadership, I was in awe of the systems they have created for maintaining a strong sense of community and family even though the members of the “family“ are changing every day!
We discovered Turtle Island 15 years ago and it was on our fantasy bucket list for so long that by the time we decided to actually make the trip, we were concerned that our own hype and anticipation were so high that the real experience could not possibly match the fantasy. Our fears were unfounded as our expectations were exceeded in every domain: the food, the community, the love and caring, the music, the sense of being taken care of, the time together, the perfect blend of community and privacy, the beauty and the nature, and the glorious, over-the-top sunrises and sunsets! We could not have imagined it being this amazing.
The author Kurt Vonnegut famously said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’
Honestly, our week at Turtle Island felt like an unceasing flow of those kinds of moments. It was the vacation of a lifetime for us.
So I close by paraphrasing Vonnegut: “If this wasn’t fabulous, I don’t know what is!”
Date of stay: April 2019
Room tip: With only 14 villas there are no “bad” choices. All have awesome views, same level of service!
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
The Best Island Experience – location, service and wonderful
I’ve been back three times. I have traveled the world and never have I had experiences like this. Gorgeous island with wonderful staff who take care of any whim you might have. Private Beach picnics, beach activities, snorkeling scuba your just lay in a hammock all day and order drinks on the beach. Recently upgraded rooms and dining menu’s. You will never relax as much as this beautiful place.
Date of stay: May 2019
Room tip: There all great. I believe there are only twelve bur’s…I call them Villas.
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Turtle Island Fiji – Can’t wait to return!
The people here make the difference. You connect with the other guests. You connect with each other. You connect with the local people. It’s uplifting. The message is simplicity peace love and sharing. The resort is luxurious.
We rode horses on the beach at dawn. We planted a tree. We engraved our names in a concrete plaque. We were given a photo album. We had secluded private beach picnics 4 out of 5 days and there are 12 beaches. Food is great – fresh fish often daily. Lovo traditional ceremony. So many memories
Date of stay: April 2019
Room tip: Bure 10 costs $300 more than Bure 8 per night. The luxury bures are worth the extra price
Trip type: Travelled as a couple