Myself any my boyfriend had the pleasure of staying on this beautiful island for a week in late October and we will definitely be coming back however next time we will be more prepared.
We stayed in one of the island bures and found it clean, comfy and cool :-) I read a lot of negative reviews before coming here on holiday and believe that most of the reviews were over the top.
I would recommend the following tips to anyone going to Mana:
1. May to July apparently is the best time to visit Mana, during our stay in October it rained 4 out of 7 days which can be a pain especially when you come from Auckland. October on-wards is when they start to enter their rain/cyclone season.
2. I have read this time and again to avoid the north beach buffet and I agree the food is expensive and poor quality, I am not one to usually complain but I hardly touched the food in this buffet.
Instead it is cheaper to have breakfast at the backpackers which is located on the south beach and then to have lunch and dinner at the South Beach Restaurant which has the better quality food on the island not to mention cheaper than the North Beach Buffet, but be warned you have to book reservations for dinner as it is popular and can get fully booked!
3. Bring entertainment in case of rainy days, I was thankful i bought a laptop.
4. You do not need to pre-purchase snorkeling gear, there is free snorkelling gear, kayaks, catamarans etc from the water-sports shack, located on the south beach.
However I will advise the Jet-Skis are expensive, it is $95 for 15 minutes and 9/10 times you have to have a guide with you on it.
5.Purchase as much alcohol and mixers as you can at duty free before coming to Mana, the bars on the island can rack up a huuuuge bill before you know how much you have spent.
6. Visit sunset beach during a sunset on Mana, you will not regret it, however the resort says its a 20 minute walk, I would allow 40 minutes in the heat.
7. The Sea Spray Day Cruise is not one to be missed, this was the highlight of our trip! They provide morning and afternoon tea (cakes and biscuits) and a BBQ lunch which was really yummy! You will also be provided free alcohol and soft drinks as much as you please. You also get to visit the island where they filmed Castaway and snorkel in the bay as well as visiting a Fijian village for a Kava ceremony.
8. To avoid blistering your skin with a second degree burn like I did, use sun cream even if it is over-cast i know this is obvious but you can still burn even when it is raining.
9. The island provides many day activities and adventures out, if you find nothing at reception, head over to the backpackers, they do a series of scuba diving trips and days out.
10. I visited the spa on the island but found it pretty average for pricey massage, will be avoiding this on my next trip.
11. The resort advise they provide free golf buggies for those farther out on the island, this is untrue it is only for the honeymoon bures.
12. You will probably encounter a few un-friendly staff but the majority are helpful and friendly so don't be put off.
13. I realllly regret not buying an under-water camera for the trip, the snorkeling is absolutely amazing on Mana. I would definitely recommend the afternoon snorkeling trip which you can book through the water-sports shack however be warned sometimes there are reef sharks but they scare easily and no bigger than your arm.
14. The staff will attempt to charge everything to your room, we found it was easier to stay on top of our money by paying for everything there and then.
15. You do not need to stay over night in Nadi if you are planning to come to Mana, we timed it so that when we landed in Nadi we got straight on the sea spray resort connections ferry, however if you are wanting to spend some time in a city we would recommend Denarau.
16. If you can, with note to buying alcohol before arriving, try and buy as many snacks as you can for the room before landing in Mana, for example a packet of pringles at the shop on Mana it costs $8.50 (you can tell most of our money went on food and drink)
17. For you smokers out there, the cigarettes on the island which can be purchased at the bars are rather cheap.
Hope this helps! :-)
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