Brian McDonald - Matanivusi Beach Eco Resort Owner

Nestled in a secluded, almost secret location, down a winding track from the main road that flanks the lushiously green, tropical Coral Coast of Fiji’s Viti Levu Island, sit’s Matanivusi Beach Eco Resort. Matanivusi, the World’s first Stoke Certified sustainable surf resort, is a surfers paradise, surrounded by perfectly formed reefs, delivering uncrowded rights and lefts with breathtakingly picturesque views. At the helm of this carefully carved out slice of utopia, sits Brian, a tough, hardworking, pragmatic Aussie from Miami on the Goldcoast, and Donna, his ever-optimistic and resilient wife, who together had the vision of creating the perfect setting to call their Fijian home and livelihood. It all started with a simple quest for uncrowded, warm water waves, and 20+ years on, this inspiring couple still hold the key to one of Fiji’s best kept secrets.  

Where are you from?

Miami on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Where is home now, and how did you end up there?

Matanivusi Resort, Fiji. I got sick of the crowds and wanted to surf without a wetsuit.

How long have you lived in Fiji, and how long have you co-owned Matanivusi with your wife Donna?

22 years in Fiji. We started building the resort in 2005 and opened in 2007.

What did you do before you built Matanivusi?

I worked as a librarian in Suva at the University of the South Pacific.

What is it about Fiji that lead you to settle here & build Matanivusi?

How beautiful the country is, how crystal clear the water is and how uncrowded it is. I never came here with the intention to build a resort.

What drew you to this particular spot, to build your resort?

We used to surf out the front of the lagoon and could see across this to a beautiful white sand cove with amazing rainforest to the beach. Picture perfect paradise.

It’s not easy starting a new life in another country. What is the hardest thing about it, and the best?

I guess the hardest thing is leaving family and friends. It takes a long time to establish new meaningful relationships. The best thing is its exciting and challenging.

Tell us about the waves in Fiji, on the Coral Coast.  And how you ended up naming one of the waves after your son … Jays.

There was only one other surfer living around the area when we first moved here in 1996 and we only surfed a couple of breaks. Until I got a boat I was dependent on the other surfer for a ride. All the breaks are at least a kilometer offshore. You needed a boat. After I got my tinny with a 15hp outboard I was free to explore around the local area. More time on the water meant more opportunity to check out the passes and bends in the reefs at different tides and swells.

You are obviously passionate about protecting your local environment and working with the community. Tell us about your sustainability program, and how you ended up being the first Stoke Certified Surf Resort in the world!

When we finally set foot on this piece of paradise we knew we had to take care of it and not destroy the natural beauty and ecosystems… the very first time it was like entering the magic forests of Lord of the Rings… almost surreal that places like this still existed. So from the very beginning we had in our mind that any development has to be “eco friendly”. This was before it changed to “sustainable”.  We cared for the place and wanted to preserve the beauty. It took 5 years of planning and formulating our dream and the overriding concern was how to minimize our impact.

What words would come to mind, if you had to describe Matanivusi in only three words?

It’s bloody amazing!

When and where did your passion for surfing start?

Body surfing at Surfers Paradise, about 9yrs old.

Favourite wave? 

Burleigh and Sth Straddy.

Most memorable session? 

Above spots when there were no crowds. Early 70’s.  

Favourite surfer?


Biggest surf mission?

Overland Singapore - Malaysia, Sumatra,  – Nias 1983.

Favourite board? 

My new board whenever I get one.

What are you known for?

Attention to detail.

What are you most proud of?

Matanivusi and our kids who turned out alright.

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

Mum and Dad (deceased).

Defining moment?

Being born.

Guilty pleasure?

Love chocolate but deny it.

I love ... 

... Donna

I miss ... 

... my grandkids (in Australia)

I wish ...

... I could surf better on my backhand

I want ...

... to maintain good health

Where can we find you online?

Instagram: @matanivusiresort






Posted by: Emma Gibbons, on March 31, 2018
Categories: Interviews