Malolo Island Resort, Fiji: The family holiday where parents can actually unwind

The young Melbourne couple staying in the beach villa next to mine have come to Fiji's Malolo Island Resort, 25 kilometres west of Nadi, to wind down after the hectic months following the birth of their first child nine months earlier. Being a travel agent accustomed to booking Fijian holidays for others, Steph knew the resort would be ideal for young families like hers.

"The staff here are just lovely," she says. "Our daughter is still at that age where she needs a lot of rest, and the women here will sit outside your door and babysit while she sleeps inside, allowing us to go and lie by the pool or have time to ourselves. It's just perfect."

"The days go so slow," adds Steph's tradie husband, Nigel. It's meant as a compliment.

Malolo Island Resort is the perfect antidote to the frenetic pace most families have learned to accept as part of life. Time slows down here, and the biggest quandary faced by guests is how best to fill that time.

That's not to say you'll be lacking choices. Far from it, in fact, for the activities list includes banana boat rides, water-skiing and jet ski hire, like you'd expect to find at an island getaway. Plus, there are fishing excursions to outer reefs and cultural tours to one of two villages on the island are popular, since they are where most of the resort's staff come from.

Kids on holiday here inevitably spend a lot of time with resort workers who never seem to tire of the interaction, greeting everyone with a welcoming "bula" accompanied by a warm smile. Guests' names are memorised quickly, often resulting in curious youngsters wanting to know where these islanders live and what their homes and schools are like.

There are sunset sailing tours and snorkelling and diving over fringing reefs. Boat tours around the Mamanuca Islands include setting foot on Monuriki Island, where Tom Hanks' character was marooned for years in the movie Cast Away. Sunrise tours to Mociu (Honeymoon) Island come with breakfast hampers and 360-degree vistas, guests can book dolphin safaris and surfers can order boat transfers to the world famous left-hander called Cloudbreak that's visible from the resort.

More likely though is that you'll do very little, and each of the 46 plantation-style bures is deliberately not fitted with phone, TV, radio or internet. "Disconnect to reconnect" is the resort's mantra. So instead you'll find young kids fossicking for seashells with their parents, or searching for marine life in tidal rock pools.

The resort's hub is definitely the swimming pool, which is surrounded by numerous sunbeds that seem tailor-made for adults who binge on crime thrillers. Older kids will want to jump off the pontoon just off the beach. And there are lounge areas for adults and teenagers that contain book and DVD libraries and assorted games, such as table tennis and air hockey.

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Pre-teens love going to the adult-supervised Tia's Treehouse Kids Club, under the shade of a giant mango tree. From 9am to 9pm each day, they learn to live like Malolo islanders following themed programs, from arts and crafts to marine environment awareness and Fijian culture or food.

On Tuesdays,  presentations are held with Pacific boas and endemic Fijian crested iguanas that were believed to be extinct until one appeared in 2010 at Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Malolo's adults-only luxury sister resort on the opposite side of the Naroba Point ridge.

Kids menus are incorporated into the resort's three restaurants, including the informal Beach Bar. But if it's a child-free experience couples are craving they can make use of the resort's $FJ10-an-hour babysitting service to book a table for two at Treetops Restaurant. So not only does time slow down here; it can also wind back.

TRIP NOTES

Mark Daffey visited Malolo Island Resort courtesy of Ahura Resorts.

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FLY

Fiji Airways, Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia all fly direct to Nadi International Airport from east coast hubs. Transfer to Malolo Island Resort by fast catamaran, private speedboat, seaplane or helicopter. See fijiairways.comqantas.com/auvirginaustralia.com

STAY

Malolo Island Resort tariffs start at $500 a night for up to four people. Family bures sleep up to seven. Meals, welcome refreshments, free Wi-Fi in public areas and complimentary use of non-motorised water sports equipment are included. See maloloisland.com

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