Making the experience that little bit more special, getting to Malamala requires a ferry, which leaves Port Denarau daily, and takes only 30 minutes of cruising to reach. Upon arrival, we’re met with the stunning white sands of Malamala, taking in the tiny island paradise from the pier.
We quickly realise our marvelling of the island would need to be placed on hold, ensuring that we secure the best spot we can amidst the small crowd descending on the many seaside perches. Once we’ve nabbed an umbrella, we wander ‘round the island to check out all the fun stuff we can do for free. Yep, kayaking and snorkelling is complementary with your visit to the island.
The former was up first, quickly becoming reacquainted with the turquoise blue sea and it’s many local residents. It doesn’t take too long to spot a variety of sea life, not too far from the beach (which makes it somewhat easier for less experienced swimmers or snorkelers). Time flies as we follow schools of fish and dive deep down to explore the white sand ocean floor.
After hours in the water (crinkly fingertips and all), our rumbling tummies force us to take a time out for lunch. The restaurant, located in the middle of the resort, overlooks the pool and beach, and is headed up by Executive Chef Lance Seeto. One of the many Australian expat chefs giving Fijian cuisine a refresh, Lance’s menu is focused on fresh share platters and light island-inspired dishes, with much derived from local classics, such as the citrus-cured Spanish Mackarel, which makes up the Kokoda Classic. Lance loves the theatrics of cooking, and he’s pulled up a seat at our table, making coconut milk from scratch and marinating fresh fish in front of our very eyes.
While we’re only after a “light bite”, a couple of bevvies quickly change our mind, making our way through incredible dishes such as the Mochiko fried chicken with sesame paste and kecap manis, Spicy peanut soba noodles with Asian mushrooms, salad greens, tempered coconut and spiced peanut sauce, and our favourite the Spiced goat curry pie. Light in pastry, the tasty goat in tempered sweet spices, was topped with mashed pumpkin and sauteed lentils, making it one of those dishes you to tell your mates about upon return. The specially curated cocktails are a great addition to lunch, with the Drunken Coconut (complete with Fiji Coconut Vodka) and the Elixir of Life (an antioxidant rich fruit potion of medicinal, non-ageing noni juice, vodka, mint and passionfruit), being our personal faves.
A little tipsy from the booze, the food and the sun, we head back for round two of snorkelling (which was almost more amazing than the first half of our day), a couple of selfies by the pool, before a proposal (yep, we got engaged!) and a fun-filled ferry ride back to the Hilton Fiji (another incredible spot to explore on the mainland).
It must be said, that the Mataqali Naobeka are the traditional landowners of the island, and viewed it as a place of healing. To this day, they believe the powers live on, and that those who visit Malamala return blessed or healed. If we feel the way we do three months after leaving this idyllic island, we’d say that the Mataqali Naobeka are definitely onto something.