Welcome to Cloud 9, a two-storey restaurant and bar located not far from where Tom Hanks filmed Cast Away (2000). You won’t be spearing fish and talking to imaginary friends here, though: instead, DJs spin tunes and guests tuck into pizza and drinks.
You can sunbathe or lounge beneath shady canopies, or get active, leaping from the deck into the ocean, exploring beneath the surface with a snorkel or even going parasailing or jet-skiing.
Cloud 9 opened in 2013, and was initially most popular with surfers chasing nearby breaks. Now it welcomes a more mixed crowd, including young couples, groups and families. The mahogany, raintree and pine restaurant sits on two pontoons in the shallow waters west of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, and guests arrive by boat. It gets its energy from solar panels, and the set-up means there’s space for daybeds and deckchairs on the top deck (you can also leap into the ocean from the rail here), while the decking below is home to the bar and kitchen.
Guests can hire snorkels or bring their own, and water sports are available if booked in advance. Cloud 9’s biggest draws are the pizzas (which are cooked in a wood-fired oven and come in around six classic styles, including margherita and Hawaiian) and the ocean waters surrounding it. These can be stunningly clear, with a sandy sea floor around the restaurant and a barrier reef further out, though currents can reduce visibility.
Around 200 people a day visit Cloud 9 in peak season, and it usually breaks its day into two sessions – come for the second to check out the famous sunsets. Drinks aren’t cheap, though a voucher is included in most packages. The DJ roster, meanwhile, is impressive and pulls in talent from around the world.
Cloud 9 sits in the Mamanucas, an archipelago around an hour’s boat ride west of Viti Levu – the crossing can be bumpy, depending on conditions. The Mamanucas are home to the party resort of Beachcomber Island as well as pristine white-sand spots like Monuriki, the uninhabited island where Cast Away was filmed.
Viti Levu itself is home to Suva, Fiji’s capital, as well as the swanky Denarau Islands resorts, plus mountain villages, reefs and beaches.