You have a fairly solid vacation routine at this point. After arriving at a new destination, you find your hotel and drop off your bags as quickly as possible. Then you’re off. You spend the rest of your time exploring, eating, shopping, hiking, museum hopping, or whatever you’re supposed to do there. You don’t slow down until you feel like you’ve conquered that place. Or you could at least write a guidebook about it. So you always feel a little guilty when you start planning a beach vacation.
You fly to the South Pacific without your usual arsenal of trip planners. No guidebook. No list of recommendations. No daily itinerary. You arrive in Fiji with just a hotel reservation and directions for how to get there. Your carry-on bag has never been this light before. Normally, you’d feel wholly unprepared, but with your luggage full of only bathing suits, sarongs, and suntan lotion, you couldn’t go far anyway.
Shortly after arriving on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, you realize you made the right decision. With green volcanic peaks, a deeply indented coastline leading to quiet coves, and brilliant turquoise water, Vanua Levu looks like the main island, Viti Levu, did 50 years ago. From the Savusavu Airport, you’re driven along the two-lane Hibiscus Highway and across a small causeway to Savasi Island. You’re welcomed with a lei, a coconut drink, and a view of the Koro Sea. You aren’t going anywhere.
The Savasi Island Villas are private, secluded, and absolutely beautiful. You pass massive banyan trees, iridescent peacocks, and glimpses of the water on the way to your room. The Blue Lagoon Bure One sits on a volcanic outcrop overlooking the sea. The high-ceilinged bedroom leads to the open living room, which itself leads to the terrace and the plunge pool. Between the view and the sound of the waves below you, you’re immediately content. Plus, with only eight villas, the hotel never feels crowded; you could go most of the day without seeing any of the other guests.
When you finally leave your villa, it’s only to find the beach. You spread out on a sun lounger, slather on suntan lotion, and just relax. You smell a mixture of lemony heliconias and salt air. You watch two kayakers silently paddle by and a proud fisherman return with Spanish mackerel. A pod of spinner dolphins plays out by the reef just beyond the snorkelers. You watch the sky and the water change colors as the sun starts to set. Then you move to the dining room, perched atop a limestone cliff, to eat dinner with another perfect panoramic view.
While, for once, you don’t think about what you could be doing: exploring the blowholes, planning a moonlight snorkel trip, learning to make banilolo (steamed coconut bread) during a cooking class, or visiting the market and the church back in Savusavu. You’re in the moment without a care or a plan or any guilt.