Hold my calls ... sun, sea and sand add up to island bliss.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that no one wants to be woken at 6.15 on a Sunday morning unless their house is on fire. Kadavu Island is an exception to this. Imagine being slowly roused from sleep by the soft beat of the village drum echoing through the jungle, answered by a distant echo as the next village picks up the rhythm.
"Where am I?" is the first, bleary thought. "On the set of some crazy Tarzan movie?" No, it's just the first wake-up call for church. And they're not just bunging it on for the tourists, either. The drum has always worked; telephones don't always work. So they use the drum. It's Fijian common sense.
A deeply traditional part of Fiji, Kadavu is 100 kilometres south of the main island and several generations off the well-trodden path of your average tourist. The usual problem with leaving that path is that it often necessitates a long, uncomfortable trip punctuated by motion sickness, a frightening disregard for personal safety and the risk of getting bird flu from the poultry sitting next to you.
Not so Kadavu. It's a mere 45-minute flight from Nadi, the gateway city to Fiji, and the only thing you'll need to contend with is a breathtaking view of Beqa Island and its coral lagoon as you fly over.
Another difference is size; Kadavu isn't that tiny speck of sand you see in every travel agent's window. It's a robust, mountain-covered island dominated by an extinct volcano the locals call King Kong Mountain. But it's also fringed by perfect, white beaches and extensive coral atolls and the size means it happily supports 72 villages and 12,000 Fijians.
And while we're talking statistics, here's my favourite: there are almost no roads and only 20 vehicles on the land so everyone gets around by boat or on foot. It's a safe bet you won't get into any traffic jams. Encountering my first truck after nearly a week, my mouth fell open and I waved wildly like the slack-jawed yokel I had evidently become.
A warning, though: if your idea of holiday bliss is a papaya-cucumber facial wrap followed by a few hours on a jet-ski, don't go to Kadavu. It's not that kind of place.
This doesn't mean you have to slum it or get food-poisoning. Our base camp for the week was Matana Resort, a small, friendly establishment built with creature comforts firmly in mind. It sits snugly behind the ubiquitous line of coconut trees with the beach in front and the jungle behind. We shared the beach with the tiny villages of Drue and Navauta. A stone line divided the villages, hinting at a distant feud, but we never got to the bottom of that one.
Isle see you there - Pacific Islands - World - Travel - smh.com.au