For Fijians, riding off into the sunset always leads to Malolo Island. Indigenous mythology holds that the gods created this idyllic place, adrift in the South Pacific, as a refuge for the sun after a day of wandering the turquoise seas and rugged volcanoes. “Na siga e dromu i Malolo,” they say: Malolo is where the sun comes to rest. Along a sheltered stretch of this legendary island’s shores, Likuliku Lagoon—named “calm waters”—has drawn visitors since ancient times, serving as a safe harbor for war canoes during rough weather.
Now this alluring spot provides a respite for eco-minded travelers at Likuliku Lagoon Resort. At this adults-only wilderness retreat, a cluster of hand-thatched bungalows rises gracefully from the beach like an ancient village. A boardwalk leads to the pièce de résistance: a lineup of 10 bungalows perched directly over the water. In addition to celebrating the beauty of the lagoon from every angle (including through the floor), the lodge is actively protecting these storied waters, now a marine reserve, and the rare creatures of its fringing coral reef.
With bungalows built from traditional soga thatch and native hardwoods, Likuliku does more than merely look the part of an authentic Fijian community. Owned by a Fijian family, the lodge leases its land from the nearby village and looks to villagers first when recruiting staff members. But income is not all that the lodge provides the locals: staff enjoy healthy meals, and, during the off-season, Likuliku hosts a medical team that provides free health care for villagers.
The relationship goes both ways. Locals gladly welcome lodge guests into their village and invite them to visit their kindergarten and church. Every Friday, guests mingle with local staff over sunset cocktails, traditional song and dance, and a lovo feast cooked in an earth oven. At Likuliku, the heritage and hospitality of the local Fijians infuses substance and soul into a postcard-perfect tropical paradise.
National Geographic guests are invited to join the lodge’s environment manager for a private presentation on the endemic Fiji crested iguana. Learn about the history of the species on Malolo and on the lodge property, and find out what is being done to ensure the survival of this endangered iguana and its habitat. Set out on a personalized tour of the resort's iguana sanctuary and see the breeding cages and the dry forest where these creatures are staging a comeback.
Sometimes, a mission lands on your doorstep—or crawls into your backyard. Back in 2010, lodge staff found an injured Fiji crested iguana on the grounds. Scientists hadn’t spotted the prehistoric species on the island in 25 years, long deeming this endemic iguana locally extinct due to habitat loss and non-native predators. Captivated by the discovery, the lodge doubled down on efforts to recover this critically endangered species.
Working in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, San Diego Zoo Global, and Australia’s Taronga Zoo, Likuliku operates an iguana captive-breeding sanctuary and has successfully tagged and released into the wild more than 20 of this distinctive green and white-banded iguana. The lodge’s nursery was mobilized to grow native saplings, leading to more than 3,500 trees planted to spur habitat reforestation. And the lodge staff actively works to remove feral predators from the island. Recently, Likuliku leased nearby island, nicknamed Honeymoon Island, that is small and uninhabited. In the intact dry forests here, they plan to introduce their captive-bred iguanas to their natural wild habitat.
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