Thursday, October 02, 2014

Fafa Island Paradise

I found an island paradise when I was in Tonga, and it's too good to keep a secret!

Just the week before I traveled to this nation of islands, I had helped a client of mine look up the word paradise in the Arabic-English dictionary, after someone had used it sarcastically – little did I know that my following destination could very well have fulfilled the definition perfectly. Fafa Island is just a 30 minute boat ride from Nuku’Alofa on the main island of Tonga, and a world away from everything. A tropical oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

When I arrived on the tiny island, my bags were taken to my fale, as I was introduced to the friendly Resort staff, and then the features of the traditional Tongan wooden hut that was to be all mine for the week. The king bed was clad with a mosquito net, and so comfortable. The bathroom was an enclosed open-air space to the back of the fale, and showering was like you were out in the jungle.

The staff took time to learn my name, greeted me each time they saw me around the island, and checked in to see if there was anything I needed. Being the last guest to arrive at dinner one night, one of the restaurant staff had said that they were just about to come and check in with me when I arrived, to ensure I didn't miss the kitchen hours - now that's service!

The island is environmentally conscious, with rainwater and solar panels keeping the amenities running. Everything was clean and simple, keeping the island as pristine and natural as possible.

A massage therapist is on site most days, based on bookings made the previous evening, and I took advantage of her services at the beginning of my week to ensure the worries of the world were completely gone. Day trips were also on offer, back to the main island and also to an adjacent one for snorkelling and swimming.

Each fale was enclosed from the other, so you truly felt like you were away from the world. A path down from the door to the water’s edge was provided, along with a hammock and pairs of deck chairs both in front of the fale and out at the sand and ocean.

Walking through the bushtrail in the middle of the island, I discovered rainforest-like coverage, and little entrances to the beach on the other side of the island. Tropical plants and flowers dotted the way, as did bird calls and fallen coconuts. The occasional spider web across the path told me how much I had this space to myself.

The morning light and the birdcalls were the only thing to wake me, and then each morning I found that a jug of hot water had been delivered to the table in front of my fale, for coffee. The oil lantern was also returned to the table just as darkness was falling, to light my return back from dinner at the restaurant not far along the beach.

The only thing to worry about each day was when meals were served in the restaurant. The decking overlooked the ocean, and at night oil lanterns lit the edges. A changing menu each day, the local starter was always a treat – banana wrapped in bacon was a winner! – before a three course meal was on offer. Once per week there is a Tongan cultural night, where a full BBQ buffet is on offer, as well as local dances put on my the staff, showcasing the different traditions of many of the islands around Fafa.

Originally, I had booked for a few nights, with a vague idea of researching the notion of exploring some of the other Tongan islands further afield. But once I had found this paradise, there was no need, nor desire, to leave! A week of walking around barefoot, spending time lazing in the hammock, lazy swims at high tide, snorkelling above the fish life and coral so close to the island edge, and taking a walk through the middle, or around the perimeter of the island most days – a much needed rest!

Jouljet Notes:
Serious Tip: The staff are amazing, and nothing is a hassle to them to help you enjoy your stay. Transfers to the island from the main island will be arranged around your needs.
Time Spent: One week. It is a half hour journey by boat from Nuku'alofa to Fafa, and the Resort will arrange this.
Cost: My fale was $259 per night, which is well over and above my usual style and budget for travel. But was worth it!
Quirky Tip: Watch out for the little treehouse in the middle of the island (I don't think you can get up to it, mainly because it doesn't look like it would hold anyone anymore), and the swing in the middle of the rainforested area.

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