As I wrote in my article for Islands Magazine, there are some destinations that transform themselves. And then there are some that transform you. Turtle Island is that place. At least it was for me. This private island offers one of the best Fiji vacations for couples.
It was definitely one of my dream vacations so when I was offered the opportunity to travel to Fiji for Islands Magazine, I jumped at the chance. But who wants to go to an exotic private island all alone? Fortunately, romance was the agenda as my husband was inviting to join me. And as it turned out, we were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary so we combined the two to experience one of the coveted Fiji vacations for couples.
The story behind Turtle Island is pretty cool. It’s somewhat of “A man walks into a bar..” story. In 1972, U.S. cable TV exec Richard Evanson was looking to escape the frenzy of corporate life and a sour divorce. He endnd up in a bar in Fiji and after a night of heavy drinking, found himself the proud (perhaps hungover) owner of a 500-acre barren and deserted island. Days later, he journeyed to the island with nothing but a generator, refrigerator, and tent with plans to live in seclusion. A villager from a neighboring island saw his helicopter land and, out of curiosity, made his way over by boat. They became fast friends and together, they, along with other villagers, planted over 500,000 trees and began transforming the island into Richard’s own private, tropical paradise. He loved the seclusion but in the late 1970s, Columbia Pictures took notice of the island while scouting for a destination to film a remake of Blue Lagoon. He was ambivalent, but soon found himself building wood and straw huts, or Fijian bures, for the film crew. He realized the potential of the island, and in 1980, welcomed his first guests to Turtle Island. With only 14 bures today, the island maintains its charm as a secluded, authentic and preserved destination. Turtle Island was once a barren, deserted island lost among the archipelago of 20 volcanic islands in the South Pacific. But U.S. entrepreneur Richard Evanson changed that.