More than 300 islands make up the remote volcanic archipelago—and South Pacific paradise—that is Fiji. Just 16 miles from the main island of Viti Levu, Malolo Island is part of the popular Mamanuca group of islands, known for water sports in the warm turquoise sea and unplugged relaxation on its idyllic beaches.
The villages of Yaro and Solevu, home to the Paramount Chief of the Mamanuca Islands, offer a glimpse of traditional island life. According to Fijian lore, local sacred places include the sites of the “keys to the ocean” and the burial site for a magic walking stick that separated Malolo into two islands, as well as a wailing rock behind Likuliku Beach that elders sound to announce chiefly meetings.
The magnificent Mamanuca group makes for an idyllic day of island hopping, with stunning snorkeling and white-sand beaches aplenty. Perhaps most famously, MonuRiki starred as the backdrop to the Tom Hanks film Cast Away.
In ancient times, the Likuliku lagoon served as a safe harbor for canoes when seas were rough. As a result, the lagoon appears in Fijian mythology and folklore as a key landmark in the lineage of the Tui Lawa, or Chief of the Oceans.
Fiji is a multicultural society, with indigenous Melanesian people making up more than half the population, along with a sizable number of descendants of indentured Indian laborers brought to work in the sugar industry. European settlement began after seafaring explorers happened upon the islands in the 17th and 18th centuries. While dress at Likuliku is casual and beach-friendly, in local communities, Fijian customs dictate conservative attire with covered shoulders for both men and women and covered legs for women.
Fiji claims nearly 4,000 square miles of coral reef—among the world’s most diverse—as well as around 150 square miles of mangrove plus large patches of island rain forest. The dry forests native to western Fiji are now considered one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems. Malolo Island’s largest remaining swath of dry forest stands behind Likuliku Beach.
The most significant Malolo Island native species that survives in spite of its diminishing habitat is the Fiji crested iguana, a critically endangered species (sometimes referred to as the “panda bears of Fiji” in terms of species vulnerability). Likuliku Lagoon Resort discovered three juvenile iguanas on the property in 2010 and, continue to work closely with authorities to protect and rehabilitate the species.
Fijian waters are home to several species of turtles, including green, hawksbill, leatherback, and Olive Ridley. On occasion, humpback whales can be spotted as they pass through these waters along their migratory route.
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