Our Food and Drink editor Georgia O’Brien was lucky enough to have travelled halfway across the world this summer to the beautiful Fiji Islands. Here she shares her once in a lifetime experience on Cloud9, a floating pizzeria restaurant in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Only a short flight away from the popular backing hotspots Australia and New Zealand, the Fiji Islands are renowned for their often deserted white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and luscious mountain regions. Inhabited by the friendliest people on Earth it’s hard not to feel at home in this majestic collection of islands, so barely tainted by the tourism industry.
With a history of colonialism bringing a multicultural feel to some of the more densely populated islands, Fiji has become home to a number of restaurants that cater for tastes ranging from European to Indian and American. With so much variety dining out in Fiji’s biggest island, Viti Levu will leave you spoilt for choice. But for something different, something truly unique, a trip to Cloud9 may just float you boat. And I say this quite literally, as Cloud9 remains the world’s first floating pizzeria suspended in a secluded spot on the Pacific Ocean. With breathtaking views of turquoise waters teeming with tropical fish, the restaurant come bar not only offers a once in a lifetime dining experience but also a brilliant day out.
Located just off the Malolo islands not far from the capital city of Nadi, the restaurant lays a convenient forty five minute boat journey away from Port Denarau. This journey can be easily arranged from the main hostels close to the island’s international airport or alternatively via the Cloud9 website. At $229 Fijian dollars (£86) from Port Denarau (less from the closer islands), visiting the restaurant may not suit the budget traveller but does allow a full day from 9am-3pm to relax and explore the beautiful coral reef that lies beneath. It also includes the boat ride to and from Cloud9 and a voucher for one pizza and two alcoholic drinks.
Cloud9 itself is adorned by a chic nautical themed interior, with crisp white panelled walls and comfortable blue mattresses that look out over the water. Snippets of a rustic undertone is reflected in the thatch style roof that covers the viewing deck and in the 1980’s style deck chairs dotted about the restaurant’s seating areas. With two floors, there’s plenty of space to spread yourself out and enjoy the scenery.
With a chilled, urban vibe that combines deep house music with rustic Italian cuisine, Cloud9 appeals largely to young 20 somethings, travelling around the South Pacific on their gap year. It is for this reason that the restaurant is also popular with bloggers, eager to get the perfect shot for their 50,000 Instagram followers. I guess it’s this which makes the restaurant feel somewhat exclusive. Both international and local DJs showcase their work on board and according to their website; Cloud9 will accommodate customer requests for a specific DJ or playlist.
Although small in size, the rustic Italian menu offers a mouth-watering selection of large wood fire pizzas in a variety of flavours, all freshly prepared on board and including both vegetarian and gluten free options. Despite the tiny open kitchen catering to over 100 covers a day, the efficiency of service at the restaurant is impressive and you can expect to wait no longer than 20 minutes for your meal.
Unlike the more refined food menu, the drinks menu at Cloud9 is vast, offering a range of popular spirits and some distinctive alcoholic drinks locally sourced in the surrounding islands, including popular favourites Fiji Gold, Fiji Bitter and Bounty Rum. There is also an array of cocktails and mocktails available at an extra cost.
For more information about Cloud9 or to book a table during your travels visit http://www.cloud9.com.fj/. You can also follow them on Instagram @cloud9_fiji and Twitter @Cloud9Fiji