Whether you’re looking for some serious sports fishing action or just want to lay back in a hammock on the beach, a trip to Fiji should tick all of the boxes.
Melbourne-based fishing charter specialists Fishing Getaways provide such experiences, with our feature trip offering six nights in Fiji, spread over two resorts and with the bonus of a special Melbourne Cup-themed party thrown in for good measure.
Fishing Getaways’ Gordon Howlett put together a Melbourne Cup fishing charter a few years ago, combining Australia’s premier horse race with a group package to the First Landing Beach Resort on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.
“First Landing celebrated the Cup each year with a special party so I decided to organise a fishing tour around it,” explained Howlett. “People dress up in costumes with special prizes for best female and male and we have a live TV hook-up so we get to watch the race as well. It’s great fun and is a bonus for those who come over for the fishing.”
And speaking of fishing, guests of this package begin their Fijian experience at the Golden Point Resort on the ‘Suncoast’ of Viti Levu’s northern shoreline.
Run by Sunny and Rachel, the Golden Point Resort is ideally placed to offer a rounded experience, with its own sports fishing charters as well as plenty of other recreational options for guests.
Laid out in an open format reminiscent of Australia’s premier fishing lodges, but with its own unique Fijian style, the resort is situated right on the shore and has its own restaurant and bar, sundeck and swimming pool, not to mention a few hammocks for those who want to take time out from fishing for a spot of relaxation.
But when it comes time to wet a line, there are enough options to keep the most demanding sports anglers busy.
Golden Point has its own sturdy, island-style open boats with experienced crews who know exactly where the fish are. Pretty much all of the primary Pacific game species are on offer, including marlin, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, giant trevally, barracuda, Spanish mackerel, wahoo and mahi mahi, not to mention some of the favoured reef species, including coral trout.
Anglers don’t have to travel too far either, with plenty of opportunities close by, including inshore reefs where big GTs lurk and nearby sand flats that attract bait fish. A little further out, the Horseshoe Reef is home to most of the serious pelagics. And because the resort is in a relatively remote part of the island, fish stocks are plentiful, so most trips result in tired arms and full bellies once Golden Point’s chef has worked his magic on the catch of the day.
If visitors want to take a break from the fishing, other options include kayaking, dolphin and island cruises, which can include a romantic picnic on a secluded beach, or just lazing the day away beside the pool.
After three nights at Golden Point, guests are transported to the First Landing Beach Resort on the western side of the island.
“Our first guests arrived 3500 years ago and liked the place so much they stayed …” so the story goes on the resort’s website.
According to local legend, the first Fijians arrived around 1500BC, landing on the beach where the resort is now located, hence the name.
“The first time I arrived at First Landing the porter said ‘Bula, welcome home’. Since I hadn’t been there before I thought it was a bit odd, but by the time I left I really did feel like I was leaving home,” explained Howlett. “And ever since, whenever I visit, the staff are so friendly that I can’t think of anywhere else where I feel so welcome.”
Run by expat Australians Amanda and Darren Braddock, First Landing offers a variety of accommodation and dining options and is located right next to its own beach, overlooking a pristine Pacific seascape and the nearby Mamanuca Islands.
For those who delight in pampering their taste buds, the resort prides itself on the quality and variety of its dining options. Darren is head chef and supervises an enthusiastic kitchen of senior and junior chefs, some of whom have won gold medals in competitions with local five-star resorts.
And if you’d like to get hands-on, Darren also runs his own cooking classes for resort guests.
The resort is relatively isolated so it’s easy to relax and find your own quiet spot to unwind or read a book in one of the many hammocks dotted around the grounds.
Guests can elect to be picked up by their charter fishing boat from the resort jetty, which is connected to the famous foot-shaped island that symbolises the first step taken by the original visitors centuries ago.
From here on, there is a variety of options for the keen angler. As with the waters off Golden Point, most of the ‘glamour’ sports fishing species are on offer. Anglers can target reef species with poppers or casting lures, troll past the many nearby reefs and islands or present a bait on the bottom and see what pops up.
“Although all the boats have modern electronics onboard, I always find the best fishfinder on any Fijian boat is the crew,” says Howlett. “I’d encourage any visitors to compare the crew’s fish-locating skills with the best electronic fishfinders available. Based on my own experience, I know where I’d put my money.”
And speaking of placing a bet, when it comes time for Cup Day First Landing-style, guests are encouraged to dress for the occasion and participate in the many fun activities on the day.
“The resort is decked out with a Melbourne Cup theme and we have Cup sweeps and some crab racing to get in the swing of things before the big race,” he said. “And there are prizes for the best hats and a special Cup fashion parade, which the staff and locals dress up for and which is a lot of fun.
“Funds raised on the day go to a number of local community-based initiatives and organisations.”
To find out more about Fishing Getaways packages, go to: fishinggetaways.com.au.