Fiji’s Inspiring Women – International Women’s Day

Fiji’s Rise Beyond the Reef project at Navilawa Village

To celebrate International Women’s Day, here’s what these wonderful Fiji women are doing in their homeland.

All are leaders in their field, who each play a vital part in making Fiji one of the happiest countries on earth.

Despite the lack of tourism over the challenging COVID period, all these women are dedicated to their roles, to educate, support and inspire those who visit these magical islands.

Caroline Oakley – Head Chef at Kokomo Private Island

Caroline Oakley-Kokomo Private Island

Cooking up creative cuisines is nothing new for Caroline, the Head Chef at Kokomo Private Island.

She is currently driving Fiji’s Dock to Dish movement, an initiative which supports local fishermen from the region of Kadavu to create her culinary masterpieces. Caroline continues this innovation in how she utilises the island’s 2 hectare farm with a sustainable approach to F&B, ensuring that everything on her unique menu is 100% made and grown from Kokomo Island.

Hidden Gem: “Australians need to check out the Great Astrolabe Reef upon which our island sits. It is full of underwater hues of pinks, oranges, yellows and purples and frequently visited by our friendly Manta Rays.”

Dawn Simpson – Resort Manager at Dolphin Island 

Dawn Simpson from Dolphin Island

Caring for others runs in Dawn’s DNA. She has been the Resort Manager for Dolphin Island for years and is often the most memorable part of guests’ visit to the private island.

Dawn says she continues to receive letters from guests who are missing the Resort and uses it as motivation to inspire her team to make the island even more beautiful for when Kiwis can return. She is working with locals in Rakiraki to ensure the natural environment remains pristine.

Hidden Gem: “I love taking visitors to the Narara Waterfall, which is hidden within Rakiraki. It is a 20-foot natural cascading waterfall that has formed a heart-shaped rock pool you can swim in.”


Janet Lotawa—Director of Rise Beyond the Reef

Rise Beyond the Reef, Rara Village Weavers

Combining her love for Fiji’s culture, community and traditional design techniques, Janet created the non-profit organisation Rise Beyond the Reef. Many resorts, like Six Senses Fiji, work with Rise Beyond the Reef for various interior design projects—which inspires many resort visitors to support the organisation.

Janet currently employs 400 women in remote villages to make a range of products—their most popular item currently being COVID-safe face masks that they are distributing both locally and internationally.

Hidden Gem: “Vitu Levu’s lush interior of mountains, bush and waterfalls. The natural landscape colours provide so much inspiration for our designs.”


Malisa Raffe—Founder of Flavours of Fiji

Flavours of Fiji, Fiji, International Women's Day

Malisa Raffe, Flavours of Fiji

Giving local Fijians the chance to shine in the kitchen, Malisa created the Flavours of Fiji Cooking School to provide a route to employment for others that love to cook—even if they don’t have a culinary degree.

Employing a team of homestyle cooks and giving guidance every step of the way, visitors get a real taste of Fiji. Currently, her team are doing local cooking classes and retraining those who have lost their jobs due to the current pandemic.

Hidden Gem: “The best place in Fiji is in a village kitchen! You’re surrounded by friends and family who are chopping, scrapping, sizzling and laughing!”


Sachiko Soro—Director of Vou Dance

With the goal of helping local Fijians reach a global performance stage, Sachiko founded VOU Dance as a place for locals to grow, nurture and develop as contemporary artists. Before the pandemic hit, the team were performing for sold-out crowds of international visitors just outside of Denarau. Now, they are travelling locally to inspire and educate other local Fijians on the country’s cultural arts.

Hidden gem: “Koro Island in Lomaiviti. It is the real Fiji—laid back, community-focused and everyone is intimately connected to the land and sea.”


Jodie Bly—Dive Manager at Octopus Resort 

Passionate about creating a bright future for both the local people on Waya Island and the natural environment of the Yasawa Islands, Jodie created the Hills2Ocean Programme as a result of the pandemic.

Through her program, the locals on the island are learning to dive for the first time, assisting with reef conservation projects and training to become dive instructors. They also host beach clean-ups, where the collected plastic is used to create crafts that are sold to raise funds for their diving memberships.

Hidden gem: “The house reef at Waya Island is one of the most lush eco-systems in Fiji. It’s only a few steps from the sandy shores before you can explore this colourful underwater world.”

 About Fiji

Fiji is located in the heart of the South Pacific, just under four hours from Sydney and Melbourne, and only three hours and thirty minutes from Brisbane. The country of Fiji is comprised of 333 islands boasting luxurious private islands, all-inclusive resorts, world-renowned spas, outdoor explorations, scuba diving, world-class waves for surfing and a wide array of culinary adventures. Fiji is most widely celebrated for its culture, which uniquely welcomes its visitors “home to Fiji.” Fiji – where happiness finds you. –

About Tourism Fiji

Tourism Fiji is the destination marketing arm of the Fijian government agency responsible for promoting Fiji. Tourism Fiji has established a presence in eight key markets around the globe, and its activities include advertising, public relations, media initiatives, trade shows and consumer promotions to showcase Fiji.