‘Blue Lagoon’ Honeymoon

Islands and honeymoons are a time-tested match made in heaven. Perhaps that’s why so many newlyweds flirt with Fiji, a gorgeous archipelago nation in the South Pacific. 

This country is the embodiment of romance. One of its most recognizable islands is the Turtle Island resort, made famous as the backdrop for “The Blue Lagoon,” the 1980 classic movie featuring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins as shipwrecked children on a tropical island. 

Overall, the nation of more than 330 islands is a luxurious expanse of flora, fauna, surf and sand, enlivened with a mix of British, Melanesian, Polynesian and Indian cultural influences. Most days, the skies are deep blue, and when rains do hit, the showers are short and mild. Its garden-by-the-sea feel trickles over into its towns.

Adventurous couples will discover that Nadi, on the main island of Viti Levu, has plenty to keep them busy. Architecture buffs can wander the grounds of the colorful Sri Siva Subramaniya Hindu temple, while botanists should not miss the Garden of the Sleeping Giant (home of actor Raymond Burr’s world-famous orchid collection). There are also local village tours, golfing and multi-island cruises.

Bargain hunters will be drawn to the bustling bazaar environment of Nadi’s central business district, which can be as intense as open-air markets in Thailand and India. Those with more upscale tastes can head to Port Denarau. It serves the local Sheraton and Westin outposts as well as well-to-do expats occupying nearby vacation homes.  

A visit to the Fijian capital of Suva on the opposite end of Viti Levu is a must. It has a full complement of vibrant colonial government buildings, museums and public gardens. It also happens to be home to the nation’s small Jewish community. In 1881, 20-year-old Australian Henry Mark was the first Jew to settle in Fiji, where he was joined later by Jews from India, the Middle East and other Asian countries. Today’s community of about 60 individuals is just as eclectic. 

Still, for many honeymooners seeking an isolated, self-sustaining paradise, it all comes back to “The Blue Lagoon.” The movie was filmed on Turtle Island, known as Nanuya Levu before cable television pioneer Richard Evanson purchased it in 1972.

More than an advertisement for Fiji, the film gave Evanson unexpected inspiration to transform his once private island dream into a resort devised almost exclusively for honeymoons and destination weddings. 

Arrangements can be made for Jewish weddings, thanks to Turtle Island’s planners based in Washington, not far from where Evanson grew up. The “Richard’s Retreat” area where Evanson, who is not Jewish, married his current wife, has its own built-in chuppah. Devil’s Beach and Honeymoon Beach, meanwhile, are great for an informal exchange of vows or a private picnic.

Although the island has a long tradition of Christian weddings, as well as a beautiful chapel, planners will also assist Jewish couples with special arrangements and with their gourmet meals. 

While Shields and Atkins had each other and a tricked-out tree house in “The Blue Lagoon,” they have nothing on what Turtle Island guests are able to enjoy. Expansive bures — wood-and-straw huts — come with hardwood interiors and their own hot tubs, top-shelf wines and spirits, dreamy bedding and delicious coconut-infused toiletries. Each couple has a “Bure Mama” or “Papa” who tends to their needs.  

Activities available include scuba diving, snorkeling, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking or just enjoying one’s bure with a glass of Moët and a good book when the occasional rains come. 

It’s little surprise, then, that a number of notables keep coming back to Turtle Island. Visitors who have made it their home-away-from-home include movie producer Andrew Tennenbaum (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Water for Elephants”), Sen. John McCain (14 stays and counting), Al Gore, Eddie Van Halen, John Cleese and Ringo Starr. 

From the moment his first guests arrived on Jan. 1, 1980, Evanson was determined to create an internationally acclaimed honeymoon destination that was rooted in nature and true to the Fijian way of life, and it continues to be a work in progress. Ongoing improvements include the preservation of mangroves and coconut groves, the introduction of freshwater ponds to encourage bird life and the creation of a turtle release program designed to help save endangered green and hawksbill turtles.

Fruits and vegetables from Turtle Island’s hydroponic gardens are transformed, along with fish and meats from New Zealand and Australia, into a wide assortment of globally inspired dishes under the guidance of French-Australian chef Jacques Reymond. The menu theme changes on a daily basis, with the weekly Mongolian barbecue, Indian feast, American-style barbecue with a Polynesian spin standing as culinary highlights. 

Nightly convivial group dinner begins with a nondenominational “grace” said in the Fijian language, and the staff does a choral performance every Sunday — a must for fans of world music. While the church vocals are stunning, more-religious Jewish couples can inform general manager Alex Weiss about their preferences if they are uncomfortable.

A handful of couples keep to themselves, but most visitors take advantage of these dinners, sometimes forming friendships that could last a lifetime. And so, while Evanson himself will insist the Turtle Island experience is a couple’s-only affair, it is the sort of thing that ideally should be shared. Isn’t that kind of warmth a big part of what romance is all about? 


For more information, visit ” target=”_blank”>turtlefiji.com.

Fascinating wedding facts

It happens like some sort of divine intervention. You’re single, depressed and desperate for a relationship, but just as you hit rock bottom, when you’ve given up all hope, the right person makes a grand entrance into your life.

If you think you’ve met the perfect mate, someone who has mastered the art of charming spontaneity, romance, weekend getaways—and can cook and likes doing dishes—then maybe you’re ready to take the next big step: marriage.

But before you take the plunge, consider these fun facts; they won’t change your mind, but they may help put the experience in a lighter perspective.

National Numbers

  • More than 2.2 million marriages were conducted in the United States in 2005. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Center for Health Statistics)

  • The average age for brides is 27, and 29 is the average for grooms. (The Knot Wedding Network’s Real Wedding Survey 2007)

Vegas Numbers

  • There were 107,175 weddings performed in Las Vegas in 2007. (Clark County Recorder)

  • But only 106,789 marriage licenses were issued. (Clark Country Marriage License Bureau) That leaves a difference of 385 more marriages than licenses, which might be vow renewals, polygamists or lazy drunk couples.

  • Las Vegas brides have the shortest engagements at 9.1 months. (The Knot Wedding Network’s Real Wedding Survey 2007)

The Ring

  • The average engagement ring cost: $4,225. (The Knot Wedding Budget Study)

The Dress

  • The average cost of a wedding gown: $1,317 (New York City brides spend the most at $2,206). (The Knot Wedding Network’s Real Wedding Survey 2007)

  • Wedding dresses featured in the window of Monique Lhuillier, located on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, can range from $4,000 to $12,000. Celebrities like Eva Longoria, Ashley Simpson and Eli Manning’s wife Abby McGrew have all worn Monique’s Lhuillier dresses, according to a store clerk.

The Budget

  • The average cost of a wedding, including the honeymoon, is $32,660. (The Knot Wedding Network’s Real Wedding Survey 2007)

The Gifts

  • Luckily, wedding expenditures aren’t limited to the bride and groom – more than 90 percent of couples have at least one gift registry, and most have two or three different registries. The most popular gifts are tabletop and kitchen products. (The Knot Inc. Market Research for Weddings 2005-2008)

The Guests

  • The average guest list is 153 (Wisconsin brides have the largest weddings, averaging 189 invitees). (The Knot Wedding Network’s Real Wedding Survey 2007)

Jay Firestone is an unmarried 23-year-old male and in the past three years he has been in three wedding parties, two of which for his sisters, and he will be in yet another this fall.

What did you say your name was?

After the ceremony and after the reception, when all the guests have gone and the tables are cleared, there you are: Mr. and Mrs.

The next morning, the groom wakes up with his name intact. However, the bride wakes up with a different identity.

Every few days during the wedding planning process, I had a different obsession. A few days after the proposal, it was setting the right date. As plans moved along, the focus shifted to location, invitations, food, etc. And then, about a week before the wedding, it was the name change.

I had no problem with starting the day as a “Ms.” and ending it a “Mrs.”; I looked forward to it. But, while Woldoff is a very nice surname, I’d become a little apprehensive about changing my name.

Maybe it was all the work involved. I just wanted to enjoy married life after the wedding. But no, I had to plan on conquering yet another checklist: driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, credit cards, etc.

It wasn’t such an issue changing my name when I first married in my early 20s. I’d never had a business card with my maiden name, much less multiple e-mail addresses or a byline showing up on Google search results. I’ve had long-lost friends find me through the Internet because they knew that one characteristic — my name. It’s almost as if a part of me is being erased or like I’m going into some witness protection program.

But what are the options?

Some people choose to hyphenate, but I didn’t want to do that; since Namm wasn’t my maiden name, it would have been like carting along baggage from my previous marriage. Plus, there’s the issue of having a name that’s different from your children’s, which can get confusing (not to mention the possibility of giving your grandchildren a multihyphenated name).

Some couples share their last name — the wife adds on the husband’s name and the husband adds his wife’s so they have a dual last name that includes both. But again, that wouldn’t have worked in my case because I didn’t want to retain my previous husband’s name — I kept it after our divorce only because I didn’t want to go through the trouble of changing it again.

Sometimes people just combine their names to make up a new name, but being founders of a family name sounds like too much responsibility, and we’d lose a connection to the past.

That’ll also be very confusing for future genealogists trying to research family roots.

While about 90 percent of American women assume their husband’s surname, there are still a vocal few who perceive it as “archaic,” which I discovered when I came across one community blog,