Recently voted ‘Best Family Program Worldwide’ by Forbes magazine, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji’s stunning northern islands, has truly set itself apart from the crowd. But we wanted a professional opinion, so we asked 11-year old Marcus Messner for the inside scoop.
A scenic one-hour flight north of Nadi, Fiji’s main international gateway, is the spectacular island of Vanua Levu, home to Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort.
The resort’s star attraction is Bula Club – a haven where kids can live out their most adventurous dreams, while parents relax and enjoy the all-inclusive resort.
The Bula Club is a mini resort within the resort, with its own swimming pool, games area, dining area and gardens, including tree houses, cubby houses, a tennis court, flying fox and educational presentations.
Each family stay at the 5-star resort includes a Fijian nanny for all children under five. Ages 6-12 have a buddy (adult supervisor) at a maximum 5:1 ratio, with teens 13+ paired with an activity buddy.
When Marcus Messner returned with his family to the resort for the seventh year in a row, we wanted to know what it was that made the resort so special.
Q. This is your family’s 10th trip to Fiji, how would you describe it?
A. Fiji is a very welcoming place. The Fijians are always kind and cheerful. It has rainforests, magnificent waterfalls, beautiful beaches and coral reefs. The fish there are colourful and exotic.
Q. What Fijian foods do you love the most?
A. The different types of fish they serve are my favourite. They serve fish like Mahi-Mahi, Walu and Tuna. Sometimes they give you chips on the side. Yum!
Your family has been to JMC Resort seven times now, what is it you love so much about it?
I love many things about it but the thing I love the most is the Marine Biologist, Johnny. He comes on the kid’s snorkelling trips and even the dive trips with you.
When he comes on the snorkelling trips, he picks up critters for all the kids to see. On some nights, he gives slide shows on marine life and the coral city. Two nights a week you have the opportunity to do night snorkelling with him and you see amazing lion fish, lobsters and soldier fish, that only come out at night.
What is your favourite activity to do at Bula Club?
My favourite activity is making bamboo rafts with the Buddies. You get some bamboo logs and use rope to tie the logs together before going out on the water.
As a part of the Teenage Program, my favourite activity to do is river tubing. You get a big, black, inflatable rubber ring and slowly float down a river.
Would you recommend the ‘School Under the Sea’ program to other kids?
Yes. The Marine Biologist teaches children many things about about the ocean and why we should protect it. You can do mangrove planting, mapping the coral reef, coral farming and learning about your favourite sea creature. You are busy for a whole week and when you graduate you get a souvenir t-shirt.
Which reef/s have you snorkelled or dived and which is your favourite?
I have been lucky enough to have dived with the handpicked SCUBA diving team which are considered one of the best in the world. I have dived at Golden Nuggets and Mystery Reef. My favourite is Mystery Reef. This giant reef is in the middle of Savusavu Bay. There you can see almost anything from baby White Tip Reef Sharks to turtles gliding through the water.
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And your favourite Bula Club kids excursion?
My favourite Bula Club kid’s excursion is hiking to the awesome rainforest and waterfall. The rainforest you hike to is full of huge trees with an amazing waterfall.
As you are hiking, you will hear the loud sound of the waterfall. When you reach it you can go for a swim in the chilly water to cool you down. You can watch as some of the island’s staff climb the high and slippery cliff, before jumping into the cold water, while guests clap and cheer.
What do your parents love about the resort most?
They say the staff. The all-inclusive activities and excursions. The delicious food. The passionate Marine Biologist. The educational programs that teach you about sustainability and the importance of protecting the ocean. Knowing that the kids are well looked after for up to 12 hours a day by their Buddies and Nannies and the fact that JMC Resort is small and intimate with only 25 traditional Fijian bures among beautifully kept gardens.
What do you think of JMC’s private island?
The private island is amazing. It is secluded and you can go swimming, kayaking around the island and even see baby sharks, as the private island is a shark nursery. They give you a huge esky full of tasty food and goodies to eat and drink and a walkie-talkie to radio for a pickup when you’re ready.
If you could describe Fiji in just three words, what would they be?
Spectacular. Happy. Paradise.
Anything else you would like to add?
They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I think it’s Fiji!
Who – Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
Where – Savusavu, Vanua Levu Island
How to get there – Daily flights from Nadi to Savusavu. Resort transfers included. From Australia, non-stop flights available from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne with Fiji Airways, Virgin Australia and Jetstar, with connections from most other ports.
Priced from – Relaxation Package includes 6-nights, 3 spa treatments, all meals, non-alcohol beverages, resort activities, Wi-Fi, transfers, snorkelling, five included tours, Bula Kids Club with dedicated one-on-one nanny, from FJD$4,350 (approx. AUD$2,800) per adult.
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