Natadola Bay Championship Course - Viti Levu
Playing Paradise
No shoes, no problem. At Fiji’s top resorts, you can loosen up, get in your golf fix, and have an exotic vacation to boot.
by Jennifer Ashton Ryan
In Fiji, rugby will always be number one. But golf has made significant gains during the past 20 years thanks to the rise of professional golfer Vijay Singh and the opening of new championship courses. In 2009, Natadola Bay hosted the country’s first worldwide tournament, and by 2014 it established the Fiji International, held annually in August. Still, most visitors make the flight for Fiji’s beach resorts, of which more and more include activities for golfers. From 3-D simulators to nine-hole, pitch-and-putt layouts and top-rated David McLay Kidd designs, here is a short list of where golfers can stay for a well-rounded holiday.
VITI LEVU (Mainland)
InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
This large-format, South Pacific resort, which opened in 2009, offers 266 rooms on 35 acres that are located only a 40-minute drive from the airport. Guests can upgrade to club-level pool access and amenities, though many of the resort’s accommodations have plunge pools of their own.
GOLF Play the resort’s par-72 Natadola Bay championship course, which showcases Vijay Singh's talents as a course designer and offers views of the Pacific Ocean from holes 15 to 18.
MORE TO PLAY The resort’s centerpiece swimming pool sits oceanfront on one of Fiji’s best-loved swimming beaches. Guests can also play beach cricket or croquet and try hydro flyboarding and hydro parasailing.
Shangri-La Yanuca Island, Fiji
Shangri-La Yanuca Island, Fiji
Technically a 109-acre private island, the resort connects to Fiji’s mainland via a bridge and is an hour’s drive from the airport. The property opened in 1979 and has just completed a $50 million renovation adding an adults-only Reef Wing, bringing the total room count to 442.
GOLF Nine-hole layout designed by five-time British Open winner Peter Thomson, plus a miniature golf course.
MORE TO PLAY Navigate Fiji’s largest inflatable water park (imagine a flotilla of bounce houses), play tennis or volleyball, swim in one of three pools, or go canoeing, snorkeling, diving, and cycling.
Vanua Levu
Namale Resort & Spa
Tony Robbins’ 30-year-old, 525-acre resort on Fiji’s second-largest island welcomes adults only for all-inclusive stays among its 19 villas. Each is unique, showcasing traditional Fijian architecture.
GOLF Play the nine-hole golf course, practice at the driving range, and use the golf simulator.
MORE TO PLAY Find Fiji’s only two bowling lanes in the resort’s game room, which also includes tables for billiards, ping pong, and air hockey. There is also an indoor basketball court that sits on a 30-foot cliff overlooking the Koro Sea. Or go horseback riding, scuba diving, water skiing, knee boarding, sea kayaking, and hiking.
Private Islands
Laucala Island
Among the newly renovated private island’s 3,500 acres, Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz built just 25 accommodations and employs over 300 staff to ensure guests can play what they want to play as soon as they decide to. Each guest stays in a sprawling villa on the beach or tucked into the jungle with hilltop ocean views. Fly 45 minutes from Nadi to the island’s airstrip.
GOLF Renown Scottish designer of Bandon Dunes fame David McLay Kidd built the remote course in 2009. The par-72 layout starts in the saddle of the island’s two highest hills and by hole five, the ocean comes into full view. McLay Kidd describes the layout as a crucifix, which works because it’s never crowded. Laucala’s golf pro and caddies are at the ready when you are.
MORE TO PLAY Water sports like windsurfing and wakeboarding, horseback riding at the equestrian center, mountain biking, scuba diving, and a see-through swimming pool with ocean views.
Wakaya Club
Wakaya Club
This private, 2,200-acre island is known for its natural beauty with just 10 suites, a three-bedroom estate, and a staff-to-guest ratio of 12:1. The former 19th-century coconut plantation opened as a resort in 1990 and following Cyclone Winston, reopened in 2016 under new ownership. Mexican designer Bibiana Huber incorporated fallen trees from the island into the new interiors. Arrive by 45-minute private charter flight to Wakaya’s airstrip.
GOLF Play the challenging and informal nine-hole, par-3 golf course set among palms of the old plantation with one of the resort’s golf attendants.
MORE TO PLAY Two scuba dives per day, per person; watersports including sailing, fishing, and sea kayaking; two swimming pools, tennis courts, 30 beaches, and bird-watching for the island’s rare species.
Vomo Island
Vomo Island
Among the island’s 255 acres are 34 accommodations featuring six multi-bedroom private residences and 28 villas. Guests and owners arrive by helicopter (a 15-minute ride from Nadi Airport), or speedboat (drive 20 minutes to Vuda Point Marina; 35-minute boat ride to Vomo). The resort is especially welcoming to children.
GOLF The pitch-and-putt golf course is fun for beginners, since the game is played with just three clubs and no hole plays more than 100 yards. It’s also stubborn enough to be a challenge for experienced players.
MORE TO PLAY Take out a stand-up paddleboard, a kayak, a Hobie Cat for sailing, a windsurfing board, or snorkeling equipment. You can also play volleyball, badminton, tennis, and croquet.
The former managers of Wakaya Club opened this 800-acre resort across neighboring private islands when they left Wakaya in 2010, hired away by Vatuvara’s owner, Oakley founder Jim Jannard. The island’s three one-bedroom, thatch-and-stone villas almost grow out of the limestone landscapes, enhancing the property’s commitment to both beauty and conservation. The resort’s foundation is working to protect natural environments in and round Fiji’s northern Lau Islands. Arrive following an hour-long flight from Nadi Airport.
GOLF The four-hole golf course is deemed organic, meaning it’s groomed by hand and without the use of pesticides, fertilizer, or other artificial chemical treatments. The island’s resident golf pro has a reputation for being especially patient with beginners. Practice all you want on the putting green.
MORE TO PLAY Each villa has its own pool, so you can swim anytime. Explore neighboring uninhabited islands on foot and by kayak, go fishing or diving, or practice yoga with the on-site instructor. The wellness center is also equipped with a Peloton bike and a Pilates reformer, among other pieces of cardio equipment.