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Although few backpackers visit Savusavu these days, the town has several properties offering inexpensive accommodations. The most comfortable dorm is at the Savusavu Hot Springs Hotel .

Operated by an Indo-Fijian family of the Christian persuasion, Budget Holiday House (tel. 885 0149) offers very basic rooms in a simple wood frame house in a quiet setting on Nakama Road near the hot springs. It charges F$40 (US$26-£13) for a double, and credit cards are not accepted.

Cottage Rentals

As on Taveuni, a number of expatriates have purchased land and built homes in or near Savusavu. Some live here permanently and have constructed rental cottages on their properties. Others rent out their homes when they're not here, either through rental programs such as at Koro Sun Resort or on the Internet. You don't want someone from the Fiji Hotel and Guest House Licensing Board (tel. 330 9866; fax 330 2344; www.ag.gov.fj) knocking on your door in the middle of your siesta, so if you rent a cottage, ask if it is fully licensed and avoid any property whose owner avoids answering the question.

You won't have this problem at Tropic Splendor (tel. 851 0152 or 991 7931; www.tropic-splendor-fiji.com), on the north shore of Savusavu Bay, a 20-minute drive from town. Deserting the deserts of New Mexico, owners Susan Stone and Jeffery Mather relocated to this lush setting in 2001. They make sure you have all the comforts of home in their guest bungalow beside a beach of powdery, cocoa-colored sand. It has ceiling fans, a TV with DVD player, wireless Internet access, a king-size bed, a big wraparound porch with hammock, outdoor shower, and other amenities. They charge F$360 (US$234/£120) per day, with discounts for longer stays. MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted.

Another option is Fiji Beach Shacks (tel. 885 1002; www.fijibeachshacks.com), whose "House of Bamboo" between town and Lesiaceva Point is anything but a shack. This two-level, two-bedroom, two-bathroom luxury home with outdoor pool is perched high on a hill overlooking Savusavu Bay. Rates are F$225 (US$146/£75) for a double per night, with a 3-night minimum stay required.

A Resort on Namenalala Island

Back in the 1970s, Pennsylvanians Tom and Joan Moody (she pronounces her name "Joanne") opened a small, isolated resort in Panama's San Blas Islands, catering to serious scuba divers and others who just wanted a total escape. Terrorists attacked their peaceful outpost, however, shooting and nearly killing Tom and tying Joan up. Fortunately, Tom survived, but they soon left Panama. After searching the South Pacific, they settled on dragon-shaped Namenalala, a 44-hectare (110-acre) rocky ridge protruding from the Koro Sea about 32km (20 miles) south of Vanua Levu and covered with dense native forest and bush. The huge Namena barrier reef sweeps down from Vanua Levu and creates a gorgeous lagoon in which you can indulge your passion for diving. The Moodys have designated most of Namenalala as a nature preserve in order to protect a large colony of boobies that nest on the island, and sea turtles that climb onto the beaches to lay their eggs from November through February. The surrounding reef is now officially the Namena Marine Protected Reserve.

With Kids

Reader's Comment: A 9-Year-Old in Fantastic Fiji -- I really didn't know what to expect when my Mom told me we were going to Fiji. Once we got there, I did so many things I had never done before, for example, snorkeling. Fiji is the best place to snorkel ever!

The Bula Club for kids [at Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort] was awesome! There was always something new to do every day, like catching frogs and digging for hermit crabs. The Bula Club was fun because I had my own Fijian buddy, Mary, who played with me every day. She taught me how to whistle a hermit crab out of its shell. She also made me a farewell present, which was a lei made out of flowers.

It was fun meeting kids from other countries, like Australia, New Zealand, and Scotland. We actually saw a family from our hometown in California and she was on my soccer team 2 years ago! It is such a small world, isn't it?

I was a little worried about the food in Fiji, but discovered it is delicious. I ate the best pineapple in the world! On our way to the waterfall in the rainforest one day, our guide Sami bought it from Fijians who were walking along the road with pineapples on their backs. Sami cut it open with their machete. Sami served our pineapple on elephant ear leaves.

Another fun part about Cousteau resort was walking on the pier. You did not even have to try hard to see the bottom of the ocean. I saw beautiful exotic fish, like blue sea stars, yellow tang, zebra fish, sea cucumbers, needlefish, and giant clams. You could see even more when you got in the water.

The very best thing about Fiji is the people. So if you ever want to go to Fiji remember to bring your camera because Fiji is a FANTASTIC place!

-- Eve Silverman, age 9, Laguna Niguel, California

Reader's Comment: A Mother's View -- When we stepped out of the van that brought us from the Savusavu airport to the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, our luggage went one way, and my 9-year-old daughter, Eve, went another!

Eve was met by her Bula Club Buddy, Mary, who acted as her personal playmate/chaperone/concierge during our entire stay. While I was reading a book by the adult's pool or walking along the white sandy beach, the Bula Club offered her nonstop activities, exposure to the natural beauty and fun of the islands, and a nice, safe environment for her to experiment. She learned to snorkel, kayak, swim in the open ocean, the names of marine life and their habits, and games. She met new friends daily. Although she had the option of dining with me, she continuously chose to eat with her new friends. The bonds she made were quite strong with both the other children in the club as well as the Fijian caretakers.

Our Fiji experience changed both my daughter and me. From sharing kava with a Fijian chief in a rural village just outside Savusavu to watching her catch her breath as she jumped from a glass-bottom boat to snorkel for the first time, I watched her grow from a child into a young woman, open to new experiences, places, and people. She straddled the international date line on Taveuni, thrilled to stand in Wednesday and Thursday at the same time. She was amazed at the strange new culture we saw in villages, the beauty of the rainforests, the unusual tastes of the indigenous food and drink, and I was amazed at her ability to open up to it all. Fiji gave us both a safe place to grow as mother and daughter.

Both of us left part of our hearts and imagination in that beautiful place and we can't wait to go back to retrieve them.

-- Virginia Silverman, Laguna Niguel, California

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.