Freshly back from 1.5 weeks at Matava, and I had some long flights to think about what to write as a review. I travel constantly, for work or pleasure, and tend to go far off the beaten track when it’s just for me. Kadavu Island was immediately appealing, combining excellent diving with pure Island beauty. I did debate where to stay, though, as I could not ignore one recent, negative review of Matava. I considered Kokomo and its outright luxury was tempting, but decided that as a solo female traveler, I’d probably feel more lonely at Christmas there than at a place where everyone is together and no one has use of a hairdryer, or cares about that. I made the right choice, bad hair days notwithstanding.
Matava is beautifully situated in a cove, overlooking a tiny island and stunning turquoise water. There is no real beach, and I couldn’t imagine wasting time sitting on one when I could explore so much above or below water. My bure was very pretty and a traditional island style, up a hill with a breathtaking ocean view. Aside from the bures, the rest of the spaces are shared and very welcoming. Dining is communal and the food is great, fresh and plentiful. I haven’t been able to have gluten in more than 25 years and they had no problem with that. (The comment in the review I read of “you will be hungry the whole time” leads me to believe that person might have an issue with portion control.) I actually ate dessert for the first time in many years thanks to the staff’s kitchen wizardry.
The diving is spectacular, period. The dive masters are extremely competent, fun to dive with, and a pleasure to be around. I brought my own gear but it wouldn’t have been an issue if I hadn’t. There also is a fantastic instructor on staff who can train and certify all PADI levels. There were a few newly minted divers during my stay as a result. You are directly on the Astrolabe reef when you stay at Matava, and it’s a diver’s dream. There also is insane fishing just outside the protected area, and while I love fish underwater, I do also love them on my plate (sorry!).
Before you think it was all paradise, Cyclone Sarai came in during my stay and beat the crap out of Kadavu Island, with two direct hits when it doubled back. Obviously no diving but that was the least of my concerns. The winds were a little terrifying, but not once did I feel unsafe or uncomfortable at Matava. Why? Because they’re an off the grid eco lodge that is self sufficient. Who better to stay with when that grid goes down! Solar panels and generators, and staff who know how to manage through anything. All of the bures were built to withstand much worse. No internet? We didn’t care, we had card games going and a movie projected on the plywood panels that we used to protect the main lodge. Plenty of good wine and beer, too. Just keep an eye out for flying coconuts and it’s all good.
For the better part of four days, the cyclone interrupted my plans. Rather than be mad about it, I used their phone to change my flight and grab those dive days back. I also couldn’t imagine leaving my new friends that soon, so instead we rang in the New Year together and I got to see more of that gorgeous reef.
So, go to Matava if you love nature, want a real Fiji experience, most definitely if you want to dive/snorkel/fish/paddle board, or just chill out and spend time with some awesome people. Leave your ego, and hairdryer, at home and prepare to actually relax and enjoy yourself. I certainly did. Thanks to Mark and everyone at Matava, I hope to see you again soon.