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“Magical Island”

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Namena Island Dive Resort
Ranked #10 of 12 Hotels in Savusavu
Reviewed 30 January 2008

We stayed at Moody's Namena for a magical six days, and it was perfect and more.

We wandered the pristine beaches feeling the sand between our toes, read novels in hammocks all afternoon, snorkeled in warm waters among thousands of brightly coloured fish a few feet from shore, counted over 30 giant clams 20 feet off the dock, went diving, explored the island in our kayaks, laughed at the goofy blue-footed boobies falling out of trees, listened to Tom's stories over delicious dinners, drank kava with Nigel, George, Charlie, John, Kiri, Maki, Keli and did whatever we felt like for six days. Tom, Joan, Lil and the staff keep that delicate balance between taking really really good care of you, and yet not intruding.

Namena is not for everyone. If you are freaked out by geckos and need a daily dose of TV, or room service, this is not for you (although you can power up a laptop in the main lodge and I have to admit that my GSM-based Crackberry and my mobile had great reception - but I only peeked a few times - dont tell anyone!!).

The bures have great views over the ocean, and feel safe from Tsunamis perched up on the bluff. Each bure is very private, clean, spacious, with two bathrooms, walk in closet for each person, and wraparound sun decks. They make your room up twice a day and put fresh flowers on your bed. Really nice touch. The food at Namena was high quality, with fruit and other delicious ingredients - in fact our meals at Namena were far better than what we had at our so-called luxury resort at Denaru.

If you like nature, simple pleasures and getting away from it all, this is paradise. As other reviewers have noted, part of the magic is due to Namena hosts, Joan and Tom Moody, and Joan's sister Lil. We too shed a tear when leaving the island and hope to come back again soon.

  • Stayed: January 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Thinkwire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 January 2008

From an escapist’s point of view, Moody’s Namena is almost as good as it gets. So many places we’ve been that are advertised as secluded end up not being genuinely secluded at all. Namena is. Namena fits the bill. Quite simply, we loved the place.

There are only six bures (circular cottages) on the two mile long island. Mostly perched on the cliffs looking out over the ocean to the ‘mainland’ on the horizon way beyond, their views and setting are spectacular. And they’re spaced far enough apart (50 yards or more) that each is completely or more or less out of sight of the next.

The island may only be two miles long or less, but surprisingly, we experienced zero cabin fever. Heavily forested with many beautiful trees on steep slopes; hundreds of breeding boobies everywhere that let you walk right up to them; six good beaches, one of which is world class.

Most importantly, the ATMOSPHERE, the feel of the place is wonderful. You can really feel like you are alone on your own desert island. If that isn’t the escapist’s fantasy, then what is? It’s a wonderfully romantic place, not from a honeymooning point of view (of which, see more below), but from an earthly, natural-world point of view. Out on that island in the middle of the ocean, where up in your bure looking out over the ocean, you really feel connected to the earth in a way that is genuinely rare to find anywhere in the world.

If any of it was more fancy, or more manicured, it just wouldn’t be the same. We were there for seven days, and had the weather been better (see below), we would have actually been happy staying here for two weeks. But to stay that long, you have to dive.

The diving. Ah, the diving. Please, please get certified before you come. The diving is wonderful. It’s the main reason for coming here in spite of our raving about the island itself. We were here in December 07 and the weather was worse than the Moodys had seen any December in 25 years - day after day of cloud and rain, and even with the resultant murky visibility underwater (also due to the spawning coral at this time of year), the underwater world was still mesmerisingly, hypnotically beautiful, almost every dive a wonderful new adventure.
The dive master at Namena, Nigel, is especially lovely and excels in every department - thinking of safety, great warm personality, enthusiastic, informed.

Our one critique is something touched upon by the last post. The communal dining.
Now, as it happens, the people staying at the same time as us were all fine to spend dinner with. Some of them were lovely. But had there been, say, a hardcore Bush/Cheney supporter sitting down for breakfast, lunch and dinner with us day after day, it would have become pretty tough. There are actually two communal tables, but it's still hard to avoid the people you wouldn't want to hang out with. There is no possibility of a private candle-lit dinner on your verandah, etc. Yes, we are ornery curmudgeons, but nevertheless, if we were on our honeymoon, the communal dining would be a big downer. So we agree with the previous person posting.

And re the mosquitos, I think they were bad just at that point due to the sheer amount of rain. One of us got bitten a lot, the other not at all - it really depends on whether mosquitos find you tasty or not.

Finally, importantly, the photos posted by prior visitors on Trip Advisor’s website really don’t do the place justice at all. The island, the beaches, the bures, the ocean - all are far more beautiful than the photos suggest.

In closing, it cannot be emphasised enough that from our escapist’s point of view, Tom and Joan have done a wonderful job judging just how far to take the development of the island and the ‘resort’ (a profoundly wrong word for a place like this). They have worked their [--] off to create - and preserve as well - this little piece of paradise, and we say bravo to them both.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank TheEscapists
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 January 2008

Moodys Namena is definately not for everyone. On our first night i thought " oh no we are stuck here for 7 nights - why didn't we book for 5 ( the minimum stay ).

On night 4 i thought "thank goodness we have another 3 nights"

On night 6 i wanted to book 3 more but it was full over Christmas & the New Year

I thought that communal dining especially with no menu choice was my worst nightmare but i loved it ( & so did my wife) - the other guests Ron & Carol ( there were only the 4 of us for the first 4 nights) were great & the Moodys are just unbelievable & fantastic. We soon settled into the routine & loved it.

The Bures pronounced " Bure Rays" are fantastic - better than they appear on the web site, spacious,very private with million dollar views. With 5 double doors there is a constant cooling breeze although not strong enough to drive away the mosquitos. Namena had much more rain last year than usual so a higher number of mossies than usual. Luckily the bites are not too bad.

Towels & sheets are changed every day. The diving is fantastic - some of the best we have ever done with some dives seeming to combine just about everything a diver could wish for - coral gardens,abundant fish life like being in an aquarium as well as sharks & mantas. If you dive go to Moodys - if you dont dive -learn !! ( nb see previous review from non diver )

They do a one tank dive at 9.00am & 2.00pm. We enjoyed the fishing as you know that the catch will be eaten that night or the next day. The Trevally was just wonderful & doesnt come any fresher. If you have never fished dont worry the guys will look after you.

The staff about 13 in total are just superb - all of them. If you are lucky enough to visit Moodys dont miss the opportunity of playing volley ball with them. You will just love it & at half time they will knock the top off a coconut for you.On our wedding anniversary they came & sang for us - not because they were told too but because they wanted too. It was very special.

Tom Moody takes 3 meals a day with the guests ( Joan skips dinner) & he must have told his stories a thousand times but he makes you feel as if you are the first to hear it.

When we left i had a tear in my eye & i dont mean a metaphoric one. I was sad to be leaving wonderful people & a wonderful place behind me.

I dont know what the future holds for Namena but Tom is 77 & even he can't go on forever & without Tom & Joan and Lil (some of the year ) the place will not be the same. So go soon !

Joan was fantastic before our trip with lots of helpful advice & booked our internal flights & a stop over hotel in Nadi ( pronounced Nandi )

However a word of warning - with communal dining your experience will depend on who you are sharing the table with - we were lucky. Very lucky & will stay in touch with our fellow adventurers. Had we been there the week before it would have been awful - we met the couple concerned on Taveuni so we know !!

The previous reviewer recommended Moodys for honeymooners - well she should know - however for an old fashioned honeymoon i would think twice. Very hot to be too active , mosquitos & communal dining - not the classic recipe for a honeymoon.

However old fashioned honeymooners aside - if you can - GO - it is a very special experience.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank elestoban
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 December 2007

It's hard to know where to begin. Traveling to Namena is like returning to to some long-forgotten cultural history, a place of humid and occasionally primitive spaces of awe, a place where strangers begin to take the face of familial connectivity. Leon and I traveled here half on whim and half on a desire to extricate ourselves from the incessant white-noise of modern life, somewhere simple and quiet. But nature is not quiet and Namena roared beneath our bure in white capped oceans and and in the voices of multitudinous tropical birds whirling above our heads or of those nesting on noni boughs or against cliff face.

The two hour boat ride over in the Tofua was no less quietly restrained. Blue needlefish leaped from port and starboard flying alongside to escort us to the island. Who knew a fish could fly so far and so effortlessly between worlds of water and worlds of air? Pulling into port we were greeted by Tom Moody riding a small gas powered cart to escort us to our bure. Over the rutted coral-strewn pathways we rumbled, Tom gesticulating at the various points of interest. Here the clubhouse on a bluff overlooking azure-toned seas full of coral, there a banded rail hungrily chasing insects in the purple and green undergrowth, and there a trio of elegant white tropic birds slipping overhead with impossibly long tails... always in trios.

Meals were communal in the most immediate sense of the word. A diversity of ages and nationalities sat round large wooden tables, turning the dishes back and forth to each other across the lazy susan, discussions expanding over world affairs, ecology, and the ever-present plot of the Moodys' long, exciting and storied lives. Tom would wait by his window in the evenings for dinner to begin, rumbling gruffly at fruit bats in his trees "Get out of my soursop tree," he would mumble while Johnny would set out his home cooked meals of amazing fresh breads, roasted pumpkins, toasted coconut shavings and sometimes smoked marlin salads. Breakfasts of hand-milled tropical juices and platters of passion fruit, papaya, soursop, and sweet pineapple were served with fluffy coconut pancakes or eggs and steaming coffee. And the strangers you had met a few days before would settle in comfortably, discussing their upcoming adventures for the day while extolling the virtues of the very fine meal.

There is occasion when the tide is low that hidden beaches would appear farther down the island. Scrambling over rock and across the peach-colored coral sand you would find the boobies nesting unafraid, peering at you with curiosity. We chanced upon a pilot whale sleeping soundly in its final resting place on the beach and marveled at the wonder of something great returning back to ocean and island feeding the hermit crabs the size of a man's fist, generating new life. There seems to be a plethora of life here, growing in its unruly way amidst strangling fig and irreverent vine. Small black spiders with electric orange spots hide deep in the shadows of the jungled areas for the prying eye to find. Geckos soft and olive-skinned make their presence known, assuming a life parallel their human counterpart. Nature lives a centimeter's space beyond fingertip, untidy and ever-present.

In the water I am demanding of myself why I didn't get scuba certified, but even as the question presses on me I am still in awe. Like one drifting in sleep, out of body in an immense and brilliant aquarium I hover over miles of coral, snorkeling alongside parrot fish and electric-colored giant clams. Off the Grand Canyon reef our guide Charlie elbows me gently and below I see a large black-tipped shark, below him a deep ravine of black where the coral wall fades. As one who grew up with Jaws I feel confused for a moment between the irrationality of unknown fears and the knowledge that many of these misunderstood creatures offer no real harm. I attempt to take a picture but find myself poised mid-water watching his silent grace instead. He was the first I saw, and eventually I found myself at comfort swimming beside these quiet creatures. Others speak of enormous mantas on their dives like great water-bound angels and now I am certain when I return I will come certified to swim with them.

The night walks back to our bures illuminate scurrying creatures beneath the glow of our flashlights. And in the pressing darkness we witness enormous hermit crabs mating. Along the beach, with a full moon to guide us we startle dancing ghost crabs in our sandy wake who dash for their burrows away from prying eyes and listen as the coconut trees rustle gently overhead. A tropical storm wakes us one night, high powered winds lash at the shore and lightening lights white behind our eyelids. In the morning the shores are calm and coconuts roll about in the surf.

Today we fish. Much has been discussed about the longliners trolling the water near the reefs and many a head shakes. But on our excursion I catch a few barracuda that the staff will eat later. "Baramundi!" hollers Nigel laughingly every time I reel in one and we look appreciatively at the sharp teeth. Rain begins to hiss against sea as waves crash across Salt Shaker and the raincoat I brought does no good. But moods are undaunted and we remain until the short rain passes laughing raucously over our paltry attempts at competition with the locals.

As we prepare to leave I feel sadness. Joan sits down with us to explain some of the travel and hotel arrangements she has made for us and in the early morning she and sister Lil hand us a small pack of snacks for our ride back to Savu Savu. We hug her goodbye and say farewell to the dogs. We watch Namena fade from view as we ride Tofua out. Back at home I have occasion to suspect that I may be still. Far from home.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Isolte
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 October 2007

Moody's was our choice for the second leg of our honeymoon, and my wife and I were not disappointed. It gave us everything we were looking for: basic elegance, isolation and beautiful surrounds, and good food. This was enhanced in no small part by Tom and Joan Moody, a more lovely and entertaining couple you couldn't wish to meet, and the rest of the courteous and friendly staff.

As Joan herself told us, if you want a resort with air-con, tennis and golf, don't come. But if you want to glimpse a piece of Fiji at its brilliant unspoilt best, head there straight away!

The island itself is a real treasure, hidden in the channel between the two main islands of Fiji. Access to the unspoilt reef surrounding the island was excellent, and the scuba diving was superb. The dive crew were extremely capable and helpful, and made every dive really enjoyable. Offshore snorkelling from Nautilus Beach was also awesome, with plenty to see.

We're heading back there as soon as we can - hopefully you'll have beaten us there. And if you do, make sure to check out the kokoda (amazing fish apetiser, best served at sunset). Kelly the chef won't disappoint.

  • Stayed: September 2007, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Kingofthebongos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 October 2007

This was our second trip to Fiji and our second stay at Moody's Namena. Tom and Joan have built a truly unique resort where every bure feels like the only one on the island, has a full ocean view and 4 of the 6 are at the edge of the cliffs where you can engage in a little arm chair snorkeling.

Much of the island has been left in its natural state with nesting boobys, tropic birds, and frigates all inhabiting the trees along the shore. The reefs are in incredible shape, even better than they were when we first visited 10 years ago. This is due in large part to the Moody's efforts to designate the Namena barrier reef as a marine reserve keeping human touch to a minimum. The fish life is stunning both in variety and number, and the pelagic life is unlike anything else I've seen anywhere else in the world with tuna on nearly every dive, several species of shark, mantas, schools of jacks and barracuda.

The health of the coral is also unrivaled and has really sprouted back since cyclones had taken their toll shortly before our first visit. The guides also know when the best times are to go to see the soft coral in full bloom, my wife described it as fireworks underwater. This island is nature at its best and not someone's interpretation of what nature should look like.

If that were not enough, Tom and Joan are a joy to talk to during meals which are all served family style and will not leave you wanting. The chef, Keli, cooks great food and it is among the best I've had when traveling the islands. It's not fancy but just really good home cooking. Request the coconut pie, it is simply fantastic.

You will get very close to nature here. The octagonal bures are open on all sides, doors are there but you will want to leave them open to capture that great island breeze. The mosquito nets are there for a reason though I found when the wind was up they were not much of a bother. Electricity is also a challenge and none of the rooms have it, all lighting is provided by gas lamps along with solar/battery powered reading lights and fans by the bed. Joan does have facilities for charging laptop and camera batteries so you're covered there.

For anyone looking for the gold standard in eco friendly resorts this place is it. Tom was way ahead of his time when he set the resort up and he continues to do his best to keep the island just as it was when he found it, perfect.

  • Stayed: September 2007, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank nycfisher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 October 2007

My husband and I found the Moody's operation thoroughly appealing. We admire what Joan and Tom Moody have done with Namena Island during their tenure and stewardship of the island. Utilizing a mere 10 acres of the 110 acre island for their resort, the remainder of the island has been left in pristine condition. For instance, during our seven-night stay, we took a full morning to stroll through a thriving red footed booby colony amidst huge, ancient trees and tropical vegetation. Flying over the main Fijian island, I was struck by how little land had not been touched by cultivation, the altered land below resembling a giant patchwork quilt. But Namena has been left intact. In fact, a ground-dwelling banded rail that has been wiped out all over Fiji lives peaceably on Namena. Here there are no predators to destroy these charming little birds.

Birders will find the island wonderful. Depending upon the time of the year one may find abundant white tailed tropic birds, Pacific pigeons, herons, spotted doves, white collared kingfishers, brown boobys, frigate birds, honey eaters and black-naped terns. Fruit bats also colonize the island year round.

Ah, the reef! The Moody's were instrumental in having the reef surrounding Namena Island declared a marine sanctuary and the reef surrounding the island is unbeatable. Recognizing that we were lucky, our first outlying reef snorkel upon arriving at the island afforded us good looks at a passing manta ray! Sharks are abundant and it was a rare snorkel when we did not see one to two turtles. Barracuda, a good number of sea snakes, healthy, vibrant corals, very large fish as well as large schools of fish, and splendid, varied little reef fishies were the norm. Our boat rides to snorkel/dive sites took a mere 10" to 20". My husband and I have snorkeled one heck of a lot of coral reefs throughout the world, many of these areas under siege from overfishing, tourism overuse, dynamite and pollutants. The reef surrounding Namena Island is one of the very best, healthiest reefs we've encountered.

As to accommodations, Mark and I were perfectly happy. Views afforded from our bure were in the million dollar category. Favorite dawn and late afternoon activities were to watch passing reef sharks, sea turtles, and reef fish cruise past the coral far below our hilltop bure.

It must be stressed that there is no electricity other than in the office and dining room, so no hair dryers, electric lighting or air conditioning are available in the guest room bures. It can be VERY hot from time to time so guests requiring AC should not come to Moody's. Propane lights can be lit in the bures at night and Moody's does supply two powerful flashlights in each room for use walking to the dining room and back. Our bure was quite breezy as we kept our four sliding louvered doors open at all times of the day and night.

Food at Moody's was excellent. It was so delightful to enjoy fresh fish expertly prepared each day. There was always more than we could eat available at each meal. New Zealand wines, beer, and soft drinks are available. No hard liquor is sold at Moody's so if one desires spirits and mixers, purchase them at the Nadi AIrport Duty Free shops prior to going through security. At this point in time, there is no prohibition on taking booze along on the Nadi to Savusavu flight. Icy, fresh drinking water is provided in the guest bures every day.

The staff was very cordial and friendly. Our bures were kept spotless and well stocked with fresh towels and amenities. Fresh flowers were strewn on the bed, sink, and vanities each day as well as woven into the mosquito nets when they were stowed every morning. Guides on the reef snorkels tried to point out interesting things to us.

All this works well due to the kindness, warmth, and charm of Tom and Joan Moody. They care about the comfort of their guests and interact very well with those visiting the resort. Tom takes each meal with resort guests and is a wonderful conversationalist. Joan dines with everyone at breakfast and lunch. She is a warm, accommodating person who makes guests feel at home. We were impressed with her attention to detail. For instance, after departing the island we had to sit for nearly two hours at a cafe near the airport before our taxi came to pick us up. Joan phoned the cafe to tell us the taxi was coming. When we arrived at the tiny Savusavu airport and walked up to the check-in counter, Joan was on the phone with the airline representative making sure that we had indeed checked in. Very nice people!

  • Stayed: September 2007, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Whalegeek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Namena Island Dive Resort

Address: | Namena Island, Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Region: Fiji > Vanua Levu > Savusavu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Savusavu
#4 Romantic Hotel in Savusavu
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Savusavu
Price Range: £170 - £339 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Namena Island Resort is a privately owned Fiji island resort. 6 Bure's (cottages) strategically located to maximize ocean views and enjoy the ocean breezes. Maximum guest capacity 12 people. 3 gorgeous private beaches. Namena is rated the "Best Dive Destination In Fiji" and ranked as one of the "Top 10 Dive Destinations in the World". Namena Island is surrounded by a reef designated as a marine reserve with over 22 world famous dive sites all within a 10 minute boat ride from our boat jetty. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Moody`s Namena Hotel Savusavu
Moodys Namena Hotel
Moodys Namena Resort All Inclusive
Namena Island Dive Resort Fiji/Savusavu

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