All that beauty, and within budget

Times Staff Writer

South Pacific resorts seem to cater mostly to two types of travelers: those living on a trust fund or backpacking twentysomethings.

My husband and I fall in between. Our middle-aged backs won't allow us to put up with saggy beds, and we won't pay $500 a night. Tahiti's prices blew us out of its waters. Could we afford a slice of paradise? In Fiji, yes.

On a trip in March, we found two moderately priced resorts that didn't break the bank but also gave us the firm beds, turquoise sea and white beaches found at luxury resorts.

Nanuya Island Resort

Remember the island where a teenage Brooke Shields was marooned in the 1980 flick "The Blue Lagoon"? Some scenes were filmed near Nanuya Lailai, an island in the Yasawa archipelago where the Nanuya Island Resort is.

The family-owned resort occupies a swath of sand near the Turtle Island resort, where rates start at $1,604 per couple, per night. Nanuya has the same setting but from about $160 a night for two.

The resort's four villas and eight simply furnished thatched-roof bungalows are scattered along the beach and hillside.

Nanuya Island is the only resort that I've stayed at where the staff hugged me goodbye.

Nanuya Island Resort; 011-679- 666-7633, Rates from $161 for a hillside bungalow to $282 for a villa. Meals, activities extra.

Octopus Resort

We pulled up to Octopus Resort in a driving rain, so we didn't get the customary serenade from the staff. No matter, rain or sunshine, Octopus is a cheery, efficiently run place in the Yasawa chain, about 2 1/2 hours from Nadi by ferry. The resort has 34 guest rooms in lodges and bungalows, plus 18 beds in two dorms. It attracts singles, couples, families with children and retired folk. Meals are served communally. Games and entertainment are held most every night. The vibe? Barefoot casual. You'll find easygoing conversation and company.

Octopus Resort, Waya Island; 011- 679-666-6337, Rates from $25 per person, per night, for the dorms to $235 for the lodge rooms. Meals, activities extra.


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