Holidays Travel

Travel with Rory King: Fiji is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty – and it's my most favourite place in the world

Travel columnist Rory King takes us to the South Pacific island of Fiji with its dreamy blue sea and sandy-white beaches. And he pays a visit to the Letteran Lodges in Co Derry with its breathtaking views of five counties

Fiji is Rory King's favourite island
Fiji is Rory King's favourite island Fiji is Rory King's favourite island

Back in 2010 I volunteered with a company called Think Pacific who take students from the UK and Ireland to Fiji. This trip lasted eight weeks and it was then that I absolutely fell in love with Fiji. 

I have now been back to Fiji five times and spent around one year of my life there, with my most recent visit being being in March 2023. 

Fiji is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. The country is composed of more than 300 islands, each offering stunning landscapes of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, lush tropical forests, and vibrant coral reefs. For the majority of my time in Fiji I lived in a village that was seven hours from the mainland. On the island there were no shops, no money and rarely electricity. Despite having none of the above, the Fijians on the island where some of the happiest and most charismatic people I have ever met.

Fiji Fiji

Fijians are known for their warm and welcoming nature. ‘Bula’ means ‘hello’ and will be heard 100 times a day – symbolising the spirit of friendliness and hospitality that visitors often encounter in Fiji.

Fiji is a popular luxury travel destination, offering a wide range of high-end resorts, private islands and exclusive experiences. Many of these resorts are in secluded settings, providing visitors with a sense of privacy and tranquillity.

I have visited many of these islands and my favourite would have to be Mana, Beachcomber and South Sea Island (which is the closest one). I would highly recommend a trip to Cloud Nine. This is a floating bar in the middle of the Pacific which you can spend the day: eating, drinking, chilling and doing water sports.

Fiji has a rich cultural heritage, including traditional arts, crafts, and practices. Handcrafted items like woven mats, pottery, woodcarvings, and cloths are part of the local artistic expression and can be found in markets and cultural centres.

Fiji Fiji

Fiji’s striking landscapes have made it a popular filming location for movies and TV shows. Its scenic backdrops have been featured in films like Cast Away and the reality TV show Survivor, further adding to its global recognition.

The easiest way of getting to Fiji would be either via or from New Zealand or Australia. I would recommend spending at least 10 days there to make the most of it.

These factors, especially the friendly locals, contribute to what makes Fiji special and appealing to travellers of all ages.

Top tip: Spend as little time as possible on the mainland. Get to the Mamanuca or Yasawa islands ASAP as that is where the magic is.


Letteran Lodges, 52 Letteran Road,

Magherafelt, Co Derry BT45 7UB

letteranlodges.comOpens in new window ]

Letteran Lodges, Co Derry
Letteran Lodges, Co Derry Letteran Lodges, Co Derry

After seeing numerous videos on social media about this place, I quickly added it to my bucket list.

Situated in the heart of Co Derry’s breath-taking landscapes, Letteran Lodges offers an escape that brings guests luxury in an idyllic location.

Before I go on, I will tell you, this place is exquisite and well worth the price.

From the moment I arrived at Letteran Lodges, it was evident that everything was finished to perfection. It’s no surprise they have more 80,000 social media followers.

Letteran Lodges first opened their doors in 2022, when they launched two luxury lodges located at the foot of Slieve Gallion. From the lodges there are panoramic views of five counties. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and it is the perfect place for two people to totally disconnect and enjoy both the luxury and the peace.

My favourite thing about the accommodation is the hot tub that is slickly built into the decking. It doesn’t matter if it’s daytime and the sun’s shining down, or if it’s nighttime and the stars are out – the hot tub is always ready to give you some serious R&R.

Letteran Lodges, Co Derry
Letteran Lodges, Co Derry Letteran Lodges, Co Derry

Letteran Lodges is the perfect place for a special occasion. I know from following their social media pages that there have already been a few engagements there. It is the perfect place for couples, two friends or maybe even mother and daughter.

Both Peter’s Lodge and Moore’s Lodge offer spacious living interiors and lots of luxurious extras including your own private hot tub and rainfall shower, fully-equipped kitchen and stunning panoramic views from the foot of Slieve Gallion.

There are shops nearby should you need supplies; and for those guests who want to relax with no cooking, a list of local takeaways, some of which deliver, is available. 

The lodges are centally heated and have gas burning stoves, a smart TV, and high speed wifi connection. Bathrooms are ensuite and towels and robes are provided.

Letteran Lodges, Co Derry
Letteran Lodges, Co Derry Letteran Lodges, Co Derry

Verdict: Letteran Lodges in Co Derry is like five-star glamping. These two luxury lodges offer an immersive experience that allows guests to disconnect from everyday life. There is very little on the same level in the north and I would definitely return. 

The only downside is that they have only two lodges. I am pretty sure they are fully booked until the end of 2023 which is incredible, however their 2024 calendar is already open for bookings up to June 2024. 

For bookings, vouchers and to view booking terms visit their website: 

Letteran Lodges, Co Derry
Letteran Lodges, Co Derry Letteran Lodges, Co Derry