Vanua Levu, Fiji

For decades, Vanua Levu's idyllic palm-fringed beaches have attracted scores of honeymooners; its rugged interior, mountain bikers and hikers; and its vivid coral reefs and even brighter fish, divers. Yet this slice of the South Pacific (and Fiji's second largest island) remains pleasantly unpopulated and a true getaway in every sense of the word.

Managed by the owners of the eco-chic Post Ranch Inn in California, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort on Savusavu Bay resembles a traditional Fijian village. Scattered around 17 acres of coconut plantations, 25 thatched bungalows make use of natural ventilation, with floor-to-ceiling slatted windows that open to either the crystal-clear bay or a lush tropical garden. Activities abound, from snorkeling excursions accompanied by the resident marine biologist (they claim to be the only Fijian resort to employ one) to planting mangrove seedlings to help preserve the ecosystem.

A 20-minute boat ride from the resort, Namena is reputedly one of the 10 best dive and snorkel sites in the world. Marine-life lovers come for its 10-mile-long barrier reef and all manner and size of fish, not to mention one of the largest endangered hawksbill turtle nesting areas.


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