Lush forests, clear blue waters and beautiful friendly people; this is the substance of which Fiji is made. Known for its scuba diving, snorkelling and perfect surfing conditions, The Republic of Fiji is any nature lover’s dream holiday. An archipelago of over 300 islands with coral reefs, forests and mountains to visit and explore, Fiji’s natural beauty is unparalleled.
Formed through volcanic activity over 150 million years ago, Fiji was first settled by the Lapita culture, around 3,000 years ago. Under British rule from 1874 until its independence in 1970, Fiji has been ruled by local officials ever since.
You’ll probably fly into Nadi International Airport (NAN), a popular hub servicing much of the South Pacific. It is located just 9km north of central Nadi, a community situated on the southwest coast of the island of Viti Levu. Direct flights are available from Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles. There are plenty of taxis, private shuttles and buses if you are staying on the island of Viti Levu. Should you be setting off for a resort or other further-afield destinations, private transport can be arranged.
Here’s a Pro travel tip: Though English is one of three national languages (the other two are Fijian and Hindi) it’s always good to learn ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in the native tongue. In Fijian, hello is ‘bula’ and thank you is ‘vinaka’. ‘Bula’ is also used to describe the joyful, friendly spirit of Fijians. The local currency is Fijian Dollars and the current exchange rate is 2.82 dollars to the GB Pound.
Snorkelling and scuba diving are two well-loved past times and for good reason! The waters are warm and clear, revealing stunning coral reefs, manta rays and tropical fish. There are also other exciting activities in Fiji. Here are my recommendations:
- The Namena Marine Reserve, between the islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu is home to more than 1100
species of fish and 400 corals, making it the place to be, under the sea.
- Mantaray Island – For travellers keen to swim with the rare and graceful manta rays, the waters between Nanuva Balavu and Drawaga islands is the most reliable place. The months between May and October are the best times for this experience.
- Fiji Museum – Located in the heart of Suva’s Thurston Gardens, this museum holds an impressive anthropological collection. Make sure to see the traditional Fijian drua sea vessel; one of the largest and most sacred, designed by the Indigenous peoples of Oceania.
- Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple in Nadi, is a lavish Hindu sanctuary, and is the largest in the Southern hemisphere. Guaranteed to make you smile with its colourful design, the temple provides wonderful insight into the Indo-Fijian culture.
- Try Kava, the national drink of Fiji. Once reserved only for Fijian chiefs, Yaqona or Kava, is made from the roots of the pepper shrub. It is a unique and local experience, and a sign of respect to accept if offered. Bottoms up!
- Challenge yourself to walking on fire or hot coals. Outrigger Resorts offers guests the opportunity to try or just to watch this incredibly mindful and fear-facing experience.
- Fijians are rugby obsessed! It’s exciting to visit a match if you’re able whilst visiting.
- The Navala Village is the last remaining Fijian village using traditionally thatched bures or bungalows. A visit here is a wonderful and warm experience.
- The Levuka Village, Fiji’s first capital, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautifully preserved colonial buildings.
Here’s another Pro travel tip: Due to religious practices, many shops and tourist sites will have reduced hours or will be closed completely on Sundays, so make sure to plan accordingly.
Tropical fruits, fish and root vegetables are a staple of the Fijian diet. So, it’s not surprising the locals have come up with unique and delicious ways to prepare these foods. Here are my favourites:
- Lovo –Experience a taste of Fijian heritage with this traditional meal, prepared in an underground oven. Holrd are dug into the ground, lined with heated stones, then filled with meats, fish and root vegetables like cassava before being covered by banana leaves for slow cooking. This celebratory recipe pays homage to the land and Fijian culture and is often used for banquets and feasts. Try it at the Lagoon Restaurant, located in the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa on Denarau Island.
You’ll lovo this traditional Fijian dish!
- Kokoda, is a Fijian take on the raw fish dish, ceviche. Made with freshly caught fish then cured in lemon or lime juice, enlivened with onions, chillies and tomatoes then soaked in cooling coconut milk, this refreshing dish is as elegant as it is delicious. Nadina’s Authentic Fijian Restaurant also on Denarau Island is one of the local favourites for this dish.
- Wicked Walu Seafood Restaurant – This award-wining luxury restaurant in the Warwick Hotel is nestled on its own private island, just off the popular Coral Coast. Gorgeous island views are mixed with the freshest possible seafood. I can’t think of a more romantic or elegant date night experience!
Fijian nightlife tends to be more tranquil than cosmopolitan. When you want to relax, here’s what I recommend:
- Onyx Bar and Premium Nightclub and Traps Bar are two of the top spots in Suva. Onyx is known for delicious tapas, cool drinks and a hot dance floor. Traps offer a few more laid-back lounge room options alongside a live music stage and is one of Suva’s oldest bars.
- Experience a Meke performance – Dance, music and storytelling are an integral and essential part of Fijian culture. Meke performances are the embodiment of the Fijian past, present and future. This is a unique and beautiful performance that should not be missed! Outrigger Hotels and Resorts offer regular evening performances.
- Cloud 9 – For a memorable night out, take a boat out to Fiji’s first two-level floating, open-aired platform. Perched atop of Ro Ro Reef, Cloud 9 boasts a bar, wood-fired pizzas, and the opportunity to dance the night away, with DJ’s spinning cool beats. Complete with a panoramic view, this unique experience will leave you flying high.
You’re spoilt for choice on where to stay in Fiji! Here are three great choices:
- Maui Palms Villas on the Coral Coast within the main island of Viti Levu is the perfect central location to have the best of Fiji at your fingertips. This is a great family-friendly option, offering space as well as access to snorkelling and diving trips, village tours and gorgeous beaches.
- Makaira Resort on Taveuni Island East is a quiet hidden treasure. With only three villas, guests enjoy a truly exclusive experience including private tours, beautiful beaches, cultural lessons (including cooking) and personal plunge pools.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort – Run by the son of Jacques Cousteau, this is the first eco-friendly resort in Fiji. Geared towards all things below sea level, the resort even has an in-house marine biologist and a reef protection team to guide guests.
If you’re looking for a slice of tropical paradise why not visit Fiji, the perfect place to catch a wave or just feel the sand between your toes. Island life will relax and delight you from the inside out.