At the end of October 2014, we set off for our second family holiday to Fiji with our five-year-old and 20-month-old daughters. We had last been three years prior when our first child was almost two years old and stayed at the Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island. We decided to go back there after a great first experience and because we knew what to expect; the last thing you want when travelling with kids is unpleasant surprises!
We decided that Denarau was our preference now that we were travelling to Fiji with small children. It’s a cruisy 20-minute drive from Nadi airport to the resort. The two main features that drew us to Radisson Blu were the pools and the room layout.
The pools are ultra kid-friendly. You can choose the large beach entry pool, baby pool, kids’ pool or water slide. If you happen to be kid free, you could also mosey on down to the adults-only pool for a quiet lay in the sun, dip or relax in the large spa. All of the family pools have huge shade sails over them keeping exposure to the tropical sun to a minimum. There is a swim-up bar, too, and Happy Hour starts at 5pm every day!
We found a great deal on the Radisson Blu’s website. After checking around for better deals, I booked a Long stay family package for 10 nights in a one-bedroom garden view suite with breakfast daily and, wait for it, Kids’ Club twice a day, every day! We noted that many of the garden view rooms have ocean views and are much quieter than the Lagoon view rooms overlooking the pool or restaurant, plus they are cheaper!
The 80-square-metre, one-bedroom suite was perfect for a family of four. We had the main bedroom with a king bed, while the kids slept in the living room on a fold-out sofa and in a portacot. The great advantage was that the bathroom could be accessed from either the bedroom or the living room, as could the balcony, so you weren’t just trapped in your bedroom after the kids went to bed at night. During the day, we could wheel the portacot into our bedroom for nap time while we had access to the living room, kitchen, bathroom and balcony. The room had very heavy curtains – great for blocking out the light in all of the rooms.
The kitchen came well equipped with a full fridge, stove, dishwasher, microwave, plates and utensils. And there was a full-size dining table for six people still with plenty of space left in the room! We slept our toddler in the portacot on the other side of the dining table so the kids were separated at night like they are used to at home. It was great having a laundry with a washer and dryer, too – we packed much lighter the second time we returned to the Radisson Blu!
The Kids’ Club
Our kids visited the Kids’ Club (Kids’ Koro) almost every day. They had a great program with activities such as frog or lizard hunting, crab racing, beach soccer, poison ball, shell necklace making, cubby house building and much much more. For a small fee the kids could also participate in the torch-lighting ceremony which takes place every evening at sunset around the resort. They would dress up the kids and paint their faces before running through the resort with a “warrior” to light all of the torches yelling “Bula” along the way! Even our 20-month-old participated.
Booking a nanny
We had a nanny for our youngest who just took her along to the Kids’ Club activities with our eldest daughter. All kids under four years must have a nanny to attend the Kids’ Club. The nannies are so cheap and they really do care for the kids. It’s $40FJD (about $26) for the first three hours for two kids and $8FJD (about $5) each hour thereafter.
The spa at the hotel (Harmony Retreat Day Spa) has ambience, but at a high price tag. The spa at the nearby Port is the same chain, but it is like being in a spa in Sydney, although it’s a lot cheaper. I took Miss Five for a manicure with rainbow nails (her choice) which the manicurist said she had never had requested before! In the resort you could also get hair braiding or henna tattoos, which many of the children there did. Even our 20-month-old had a few braids done!
The Bula Bus runs a loop around all of the Denarau resorts, golf club, Big Bula Infatable Waterpark and Port Denarau Shopping Centre and marina from morning until very late at night every day. It’s an open-air bus with a relaxed Fijian feel – great for taking in the sights and sounds. Daily tickets are only $8FJD (about $5) and can be used for unlimited travel.
Port Denarau (the Port) has a shopping area with a chemist, duty free shopping, many clothing and surf shops, supermarket/liquor store, restaurants (including a Hard Rock Cafe), pub and fast food lunch options. It’s much cheaper to dine at the Port than it is in the hotels and the food and atmosphere is great!
This supermarket is where you stock up on your grocery essentials, although there is also a small supermarket outside the Sheraton Fiji resort which is next door to the Radisson Blu. The range of baby food is very limited in Fiji, so take your own if possible. They only stock the Heinz jars in a few flavours. Huggies nappies are a similar price to Australia, but we thought the quality wasn’t as good. My hubby loved the Bulaccino Cafe Nadi coffee shop outside the Sheraton. One little tip is to take a lunchbox to your buffet breakfast – it’s great for filling up with leftovers that the kids can graze on throughout the day.
Touring the islands
We decided this time that we would like to take the kids for a tour so we booked the South Seas cruise which was a half-day adventure. South Sea island is a small coral atoll 30 minutes ferry ride from Port Denarau. It’s a must to wear shoes suitable for wearing on the coral underfoot as well as in the water for swimming or it will be very painful on your feet! Don’t even bother taking a stroller as you won’t be able to push it anywhere. The ferry out is different to the one which comes back to collect you so you also can’t leave a stroller on the boat. We went out onto a submarine with the kids. Visibility wasn’t great, but we did see a few fish and coral. Another family on the tour had brought their nanny with them on the tour to entertain the kids while they relaxed. Great idea!
Big Bula Inflatable Waterpark
This inflatable waterpark has rides for kids big and small. Our five-year-old went on everything, but our 20-month-old didn’t get much out of it. We visited in the morning and it was very quiet – no queue for any ride – and we stayed for a few hours. Take socks to wear as the AstroTurf grass gets extremely hot and painful to walk on when it’s sunny. The inflatable water slides were lots of fun, although I managed to slide down too close to the edge of one slide and tore open my forearm on the stitching!
For dinners we were spoilt for choice – don’t feel that you need to stay in the resort either. Hubby and I wanted to try CROSS Restaurant which is in the hotel, so we booked the babysitter and headed there. We were ushered to a ‘no kids’ room for a quiet, romantic evening enjoying the à la carte menu. The hotel’s main restaurant is BLU Restaurant & Bar. Every night they have a different themed buffet, and breakfast and lunch are also served here. We had the Italian buffet one evening and the chef came out to ask if we were enjoying the meal. My husband commented on the absence of garlic bread so the chef headed back to the kitchen and appeared a short time later with freshly made garlic bread. He thanked us and said he will add it to the menu. That’s pretty good service, we thought!
We experienced the Seafood buffet at the Sheraton Fiji Resort next door, which was without doubt the most amazing seafood buffet I’ve ever had! We had a Mexican dinner at Mamacita in another neighbouring hotel, the Wyndham Resort Denarau Island. Neptunes pizza and fish and chips is great for a relaxed dinner by the ocean, but also very handy for arriving to the hotel late and wanting a quick and easy dinner in the room! Another night we took the Bula Bus into the Port for dinner at one of the restaurants (Bonefish Fiji Restaurant) which also has a children’s play area. There is tonnes of choice at the Port. We also dined at the Sheraton Denarau Golf and Racquet Club, walking there and back. Last time we stayed at the Radisson we experienced the Lomani Wai. This unforgettable dining experience is set at tall tables and chairs in the children’s pool! This is for adults only.
Overall, Fiji is a fantastic holiday for families! Here are some more of our family pics.
Have you been to Fiji with a young family? We’d love to hear what you got up to in the comments section below.
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