Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort-Floating in a Coral Garden

Life  is  sweet  at  the  Jean-Michel  Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, the multi-award wining resort   where   your   (albeit   hefty)   tariff includes  lodging,  meals,  and  snorkeling, along  with  daily  adventures,  which  range from hiking in a tropical rainforest to visiting a local market. (Scuba diving, deep sea fishing, and spa treatments are extra.) You could   spend   one   morning   sailing   the resort’s  Hobie  Cat  or  kayaking  to  nearby Split Rock or an uninhabited island. In the afternoon,  you  could  relax  on  a  beach, take  a  ride  in  the  glass-bottom  boat  to snorkel  on  an  outer  reef,  or  play  tennis. Whatever you choose, it’ll be sure to satisfy the adventure traveler in you. But the real treat here is getting out on and in the water.

A typical diving trip could look like this: You’re  floating  between  two  coral  pinnacles  and  schools  of  orange  and  purple anthias, blue-fin trevallys. Butterfly fish are swirling  around  you.  As  you  look  at  the yellow and purple soft coral, lion fish and stone  fish  swim  by.  Surfacing  after  the dive, you get into the boat for the 5-minute ride  from  the  Golden  Nuggets  dive  site back to the resort.

The resident marine biologist organizes daily  snorkeling  trips.  The  water  is  very clear here, and in many places spectacular coral formations rise close to the surface. In  addition  to  the  boat  expeditions,  the resort  has  self-guided  snorkel  trails  minutes  from  the  shoreline,  not  to  mention excellent snorkeling at the end of its pier.

The fun continues out of the water, too. Every day a different cultural or ecological tour  or  seminar  is  offered.  One  day,  you might learn basic Fijian and test your language  skills  during  a  guided  village  tour and  a  ceremony  with  the  Village  Chief. Another, you might explore the reef with a marine  biologist  or  learn  how  to  weaveFijian fishing baskets and fans from coconut palm leaves.

Guests   stay   in   luxurious   Fijian-style bures, villas with air-conditioning and Internet  access.  The  meals  incorporate  local fare: fresh fish and herbs and spices from the   resort’s   garden.   The   eco-sensitive resort  has  created  a  clam  farm,  where some 40 giant clams thrive and data is collected  to  educate  both  guests  and  locals about sustainable resources. The goal is to help  re-establish  a  food  source  for  local villagers in future years.

Fiji has been called the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” for good reason. Some of the  best  diving  is  found  in  the  Northern Group, where the resort is located. Boats take  resort  guests  to  spectacular  dive spots,  such  as  Namena  Island,  where barracuda,  dog-tooth  tuna,  manta  rays, and large sharks parade among the multicolored  soft  corals  and  coral  gardens.  At Dreamhouse   in   the   Koro   Sea,   a   sea mount  is  a  wonderful  feeding  ground  for small fish and the larger pelagic fish, such as barracuda and shark.