What to look for, whatever you’re looking for
Stuck on where to begin exploring Fiji? With more than a hundred inhabited islands to choose between, we’re not surprised. But don’t sweat it. Whether you’re one for hitting the waves, a slave to soaking up rays, or on the hunt for something different, here’s five top tips for experiencing the very best this South Pacific dreamland has to offer.
1. For wave riders
No matter if you’re more at home below the waves or prefer riding high on top of them – Fiji’s crystal-clear surrounding waters offer stunning dive visibility, and breaks for beginners and seasoned surfers alike. In fact, there’s more than 20 PADI-accredited diving and watersports resorts peppered across main island Vita Levu, second island Vanua Levu and third island Taveuni in the north. So you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Top Tip: It’s a no-brainer – snorkelling alongside turtles, manta rays and more among the kaleidoscopic colours of the Great Astrolabe Reef at Kadavu Island.
2. For terrain trekkers
Almost 90% of Fiji’s population live on the coast. So heading inland doesn’t just offer a quieter side to island life, but a rough and ready break if you’ve had your fill of sun-kissed shores. Immerse yourself in nature with a rainforest roam. Take on a tricky parkland trail. Or conquer a wild climb. This island paradise really does have it all.
Top Tip: Fancy a challenge? Mount Tomanivi is a steep five-hour hike from Navai village on Vita Levu – so you’ll want to set aside the day to tick it off. But with a huge volcanic crater and unrivalled views of (almost) the entire archipelago waiting at the summit, you’ll be more than glad you did.
3. For culture vultures
British colonialism may dominate Fiji’s recent history (independence was only gained in 1970), but the islands have their own fair share of stories to tell. Near Vaileka in Vita Levu’s northerly Rakiraki district, you’ll stumble upon the Tomb of Ratu Udre Udre. A notorious cannibal chief, the rock arrangements surrounding the burial site are said to represent each of his victims – all 872 of them.
If you’re in the mood for a slightly more virtuous taste of Fijian history, a trip south to nearby Vita Levu Bay could be just the thing. The altar mural of St Francis Xavier Church (or the ‘Church of the Black Christ’ as it’s known to locals) offers the chance to see a rare Fijian depiction of Christ.
Top Tip: Look out for the ‘tabua’ being offered in the painting. This polished whale tooth still represents one of the most important gifts in modern Fijian culture.
4. For sun seekers
Only a third of Fiji’s 300-plus islands are inhabited. That means you certainly won’t struggle to find secluded sands – often just a short swim, kayak, or hired-boat-hop away.
5. For food fanatics
Home to over 700 miles of coastline, it should come as no surprise that Fiji is famed for its seafood delicacies.
But you may well raise an eyebrow to learn that curries are a local speciality (predominantly fish or veggie-packed). First introduced to the islands by Indian visitors in the 1800s, Fijian curry cuisine has since developed its own distinct set of flavours and fragrances. A word of warning, they’re often on the spicy side – so just remember to go a little milder if your taste buds are feeling tender.
Top Tip: For a truly authentic taste, it has to be Nadina restaurant – in Port Denarau Marina on the western coast of Vita Levu.