Forty-five minutes off the west coast of Fiji, floats a luxurious restaurant atop a speedboat.
The floating restaurant is called Cloud 9. Guests can enjoy a meeting places, that is solar-powered, while soaking up the scenery and enjoying a cocktail or two.
The idea for Cloud 9 was born when Australian DJ, sailor and avid surfer, Bar'el Wachtel, dreamed up a remote bar to hang out with friends during a surfing trip to Fiji.
"I'd always been from a marine background -- my father is a yachtie-cum-navigator -- and the sea has been my home for a very long time," recalls Wachtel.
"Surfing brought me to Fiji as a visitor about seven years ago. It's a really tricky place to surf, because the breaks are so isolated. You really need a boat to access everything. We thought it'd be amazing to have a meeting place, closer to the breaks."
A post shared by Luxurious Living 🙌🏽(@koluxury) on Jul 6, 2018 at 5:50am PDT
Having opened in 2013, Cloud 9 bobs above Roro Reef in the Mamanuca archipelago, about 45 minutes off the west coast of Fiji.
"Prior to Cloud 9, Fiji was famous for family getaways and swaying palms, but it was really, really quiet," said Wachtel, co-founder of Cloud 9.
"There's still not a lot to do, but Cloud 9 offers a gathering spot for people to come from all the hotels and experience a different kind of place."
When scouting locations, Wachtel and his business partner chose the spot carefully. They finally settled on a crystal-clear lagoon, about twelve kilometres outhwest of Fiji's famous Cloud-break swell.
Thanks to the surrounding islands, the shallow water is protected from the strongest winds and waves. The restaurant has one mooring so it sways gently in the breeze and, in case of a storm, a boat can tug it to safety in about one day.
Designed by Fiji-based architect Lisa Philp, the floating restaurant was constructed using three different types of local wood: mahogany, rain-tree and treated pine.
"We wanted people to be able to move easily in and out of the water, to have some dry areas, and also plenty of shade," says Wachtel. "The over-water structure allows guests to access the reef in a way that's not possible if we were to have just set up on land."
Guests at Cloud 9 meeting place in Roro Reef. Picture: Luke Thompson/CNN
With two daily sessions, Wachtel guestimates around 200 visitors a day during peak season.
When guests disembark from the ferry, they tend to find their own little nook.
Each level offers varied seating arrangements, including large day beds, shaded communal tables, bar seating and rows of sun-soaked reclining chairs.
Once settled, you can rent snorkel gear, jump from the top deck and swim around the reef, where you'll find colorful coral and a smattering of fascinating fish.
"A lot of places offer a party on an island but I was attracted to this project because it's unique and it's authentic," says Wachtel. "We wanted to have the raddest lounge bar in the world -- a meeting place in the middle of the ocean."