The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort continually ranks as one of Fiji’s Top 10 best family resorts, and as soon as you arrive at this island paradise, you will know why.

We spent six heavenly nights at this resort on the northern Fijian island of Vanua Levu.   On arrival you are greeted by a team of staff singing their welcome song.  Through the main pavilion, you see a glimpse of the sandy beach lined with swaying palms, the clear blue waters of the Savusavu Bay and the thatched roofs of the bures that will be your home for the next week.  When you see the awesome kids club and meet your little ones nanny or buddy for your stay, you know you are somewhere very special.

View with umbrella

Our Bure

We stayed in an ocean bure for our first 4 nights which was just perfect for us.  We were able to sit right outside our door in the hammock or on the lounges and enjoy the amazing views whilst Miss 1 played nearby. The garden bures are located just behind the ocean bures and also looked lovely, but for us, the direct beach access with spacious grass areas to play about on during the day was just perfect.

Deckchair Ocean Bure

Sunset Ocean Bure

Sunset stories Ocean Bure

For our last two nights we were lucky enough to stay in “The Villa” which is stunning. It is right at the point of the island peninsula and has a large private pool, huge bedroom with an in-ground hot tub and a separate lounge room with second bathroom in another pavillion as well as outdoor living area. Wow.  There were beachfront and outdoor showers in the villa as well as some more private ones outside the main bedroom/villa.

If you have toddlers or crawlers, be aware that the Villa has a lot of steps and levels and the pool is not fenced. The staff were able to provide a barrier to fence off the hot tub, but we still had to stay right nearby Miss 1 at all times. The Villa is also the furthest one from the restaurant and adults pool area so for new walkers its a bit of a hike. All this is more than made up for by the spaciousness, privacy and luxury of this incredible accommodation.

Pool bed The Villa

Private pool The Villa

The Villa Cousteau Resort Fiji

The Resort

This resort creates the perfect balance for a family holiday, by having a fantastic mix of separate adults and kids areas, as well as great facilities for the whole family to enjoy together.

The adults’ serenity area is centered around the main beachfront pool.  Here parents can relax on a daybed or cool off in the pool whilst their kids are busy at the Bula Club, or enjoying one of the many resort activities.  There is also an adults only restaurant which adjoins the family restaurant in the main pavilion.

Serenity Pool

The beach whilst not huge, has lovely white sand and palm trees scattered along the shores.   There is a quite a lot of coral just off the beach and it does wash into the sand, so reef shoes come in handy.

Beachfront Cousteau

Pier and beach Cousteau Resort

There are plenty of water sports of all varieties available each day.  During our stay we went:

  • snorkelling from the pier
  • on a private sail on a mini catamaran
  • in a glass bottom boat to a nearby coral reef
  • stand up paddle boarding and
  • kayaking

The watersports team are available throughout the day to organise any equipment you need.

Kayaking

Glass bottom boat trip

There are different excursions available each day.  We visited farmers market day in the nearby town, Savusavu and we were able to sample unusual local produce, like these sea grapes which we ate with dinner that night, as well as buy some colourful handcrafts made by the women from the local village.

Farmers Market and sea grapes

Whilst the snorkelling was nice, the reefs were not as abundant off the beach here as other places we had experienced in Fiji and along the Great Barrier Reef.

Nannies and the Bula Club

One of the many draw cards to the Cousteau Resort is the complementary inclusion of a personal nanny or buddy for each child staying at the resort.  Our nanny Vito, was available to us each day between 8am and 9pm and as little Miss was still on two sleeps per day, during many of her naps, I would leave her with Vito at the bure and take time to enjoy the serenity area, go for a swim, paddleboard or kayak.

Knowing that there was a qualified and caring nanny there with her meant I could really relax for the first time in a very long while and get some rest or book in for a massage at one of the beachfront massage bures – heaven.

Nanny Vito

Vito would also join us at the main restaurant each night and when my meal arrived after Miss 1 had already finished eating, Vito was there to play with her so I could enjoy dinner.  For any parents who have ever taken their kids to a restaurant – you will know what a luxury this is.  Nannies are able to join you on excursions like the glass bottom boat tour, or a trip to the market or village where you might need an extra pair of hands.

All kids get complementary use of the Bula Club.  At the time of our visit, Miss 1 was just 15 months old, and whilst many of the activities were suited to kids who were a bit older, she had more than enough to keep her busy and completely happy every day. The facilities are fabulous with 3 pools, including one toddler pool and another family pool with a waterslide, plus a trampoline, sandpit, cubby house and swings as well as a quiet space with heaps of toys and books.  There is also a tennis court, table tennis, flying fox and giant chess board.  Nearby there is a huge treehouse which has been constructed over a fallen tree and is a fantastic space for kids to run and play.  Although this was her first experience at a kids club, our little one loved being surrounded by so many other kids to play with and to have so many things to do.

Bula Club Toddler Pool and Restaurant

Family pool and waterslide

Giant Chess and Tennis

For parents with babies using bottles, the Bula club has sterilising facilities and bottled Fiji water available whenever needed.  We would drop off bottles each morning and have them returned sterile and with the right amount of water ready for use.  Just a small thing – but so lovely not to have to worry about how to safely wash bottles during your holiday.

There is a meals area for kids in the Bula club and kids can eat there with their nanny or parents, or join their family at the main family restaurant.  Each morning you are able to choose from a selection of meal options for your kids to have for lunch and dinner.

Each day there are activity programs scheduled for kids – one for up to 5 year olds, and one for 6 – 12 year olds.  The resort really focuses on protecting and learning about the natural environment and many of the kids activities are focused around teaching the kids about the Fijian environment and culture.

Each evening there is something special going on in the main pavilion before dinner.  One night we there was a presentation on local marine biology, another hermit crab racing.  On the Fijian dance night, the nannies made all the kids hula skirts and they could join in dancing with the girls from the local village who were performing. Every activity had a lovely focus on involving the kids, whilst making it enjoyable for parents too.

The meals

All meals and non alcoholic drinks are included in the resort prices and we booked on a package which included either three scuba dives or three massages for each of the adults.

The food at the resort is fantastic.  At home we eat a lot of vegetarian and fish meals and each day had plenty of variety to offer us.  There was beautiful local fish served each day and the fruit gelatis with regional tropical fruits were heavenly. There is a veggie garden and tropical orchard at the resort and many ingredients are sourced fresh from the gardens daily.

Breakfast is a buffet plus hot breakfast menu options. Lunch and dinner are 3 or 4 courses even for kids and Miss 1 ate more at Cousteau than she does at home.

Poolside family restaurant Cousteau Resort

If you want something specific that is not on the menu or a variation, the staff are so very accommodating. Each day we ordered her an extra side of steamed veggies or avocado which she loved.  The family restaurant was great for meeting other families and the kids loved catching up with their friends who they had played with through out the day at the Bula Club.

The Staff

The staff at Cousteau were just fantastic. When we went back to Denarau island on the mainland on the way home, Miss 1 was a bit confused why all the staff at the hotel were not waving, smiling and playing with her every time they saw her as she had become used to at Cousteau!

When we contacted the resort at the start of our holiday, desperately in need of accommodation, as the hotel we had booked was not at all what we were hoping for, the operations manager personally drove across the island to collect us and show us the property.  Throughout our stay we got to know so many of the staff and they knew us by name as well.

For our flight home we were flying out of Labasa Airport (which is a 1.5 hr drive to the other side of the island) on a 5pm flight. The reception staff knew that there wasn’t any real food available at the airport and organised us dinner to take with us so we didn’t get hungry. When we were ready to leave we received an amazing supply of a pasta dinner for Miss 1, sandwiches for me as well as fruit, cookies and bottled water. It was one of the many extra steps which really took the service to another level.

Frangipani girl Cousteau Resort

What to bring

Make sure you have a good supply of mosquito repellent, suncream and sunhats for this holiday.  Reef shoes for little kids are also good for the beach and if you are particular about your snorkeling equipment you might like to bring your own.   However if you forget any of these – they are all available to buy at the resort boutique.

Cots are provided at the resort and there are plenty of high chairs in the restaurant and at the Bula Club.  We took our own pram with us – our Mountain Buggy Urban, and it was great to have for walks around the resort.  Miss 1 was only a new walker at the time, so it was nice to be able to pop her in the pram to get around and the full size pram meant we could handle the terrain around the gardens and off paths.  Take note of your luggage restrictions for the inter island flights though, as we did need to pay a small surcharge as we were over the weight restriction and infants do not get extra baggage allowance.

We brought plenty of regular nappies with us and also swimming nappies and we didn’t run out, but if needed, you can buy nappies at Savusavu in the town.

I also took lots of packaged kids snacks with us, like muesli bars and squeegee tubes of fruit, but the meals were so great at the resort, the snacks were hardly touched.

Getting there

From Australia or New Zealand you can fly direct into Nadi, the main international airport in Fiji.  From Nadi, you need to take a domestic flight from Nadi to Savusavu for the closest airport to Cousteau Resort.  You can also fly into Labasa, which is a 1.5 hour drive from the resort, however the planes are larger and more likely to still be operating in less than perfect weather.  The flight to Savusavu is on a twin engine plane with around 15 seats and is not for the faint hearted.  But if you are worried about the size of the plane, the views over the Fijian islands and coral reefs are enough to make you forget your fears.  The approach into Savusavu through the centre of a mountainous tropical valley is also unforgettable.

We had an overnight stopover in each direction to break up our international and domestic flights and this was well worth the extra time as we got to take a good break in between flights.  On the mainland we stayed at Denarau Island which is only a 20 minute drive from the international airport, and close enough for just an overnight stop.

Little plane to paradise

Pacific Sun to Savusavu

Savusavu on approach

We also met a family who had taken a charter flight from Nadi to Savusavu so as to be able to connect through on the same day.  The plane was tiny and very bumpy, but only a short flight and it meant they could spend all their time at Cousteau, rather than the mainland.

If you are based in Melbourne, you currently have the choice between flying overnight to Fiji with Fijian Airways or on a daytime flight with Virgin and would recommend taking the daytime flight.  With the short night flight and the time difference, you don’t really get a chance to sleep on the overnight option.

Savusavu Airport

At first glance this resort does seem to be expensive, but when you calculate the costs of the luxury accommodation, transfers, three course meals for the whole family, activities, water sports, kids club and an all day nanny or buddy, it really is comparable to other luxury accommodation options.

Have you stayed at the Cousteau Resort?

Did you love it?

Which other Fijian resorts have you loved visiting with kids?

 

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