Planning a trip to this beautiful archipelago but at a loss for what to do when you get there? Read our list of the top six activities when visiting, to make the most of your time in this idyllic country.
1) A Capital Idea
It would be just plain rude to come all the way to this country and not visit its capital wouldn’t it? Head to Fiji’s capital, Suva, to kick start your trip. However you chose to spend your time here, you first have to get there and as 95% of tourists arrive at Nadi – on the western side of the Viti Levu island – you’ll either have to jump on a half-hour flight or take an easterly four-hour drive along the King’s highway. However, once you arrive in Suva you can relax in the cool of a hotel. Take in the chilled-out Thurston Gardens, the captivating museum and government houses or the old markets and quaint shops. If you get hungry while exploring the city there’s an overwhelming amount of dining options that feature Fiji’s rich cultural tapestry -Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, Chinese and European Influences -and you’re certain to find something you like in Suva. If you’re out for a beer and you here someone shouting ‘Bula’ don’t be alarmed as this is just the locals’ friendly meet-and-greet method.
Some of the most gorgeous diving spots in the world can be found around Fiji’s 300-plus islands, so if you’re not terrified of the depths of the ocean then you need to slip into a wetsuit and get down there. If you’ve never gone diving before then you will be delighted to find that most places have PADI instructors on staff to teach you the ropes. Regardless of where you chose to dive you’re certain to find something incredible, from dolphins and manta rays to reef sharks and seemingly endless coral life. You’ll also have a chance to see shipwrecks, caves and grottos whilst doing some of the dives”. For the top diving spots head to Pacific Harbour, Kaduva, the Somosomo straits, the Mamanucas and Plantation, Musket Cove and Castaway, near Nadi.
3) Rainforest Trekking
Fiji’s forests have amazing landscapes and birds that are so colourful they make Mardi Gras in Sydney look like Sunday mass. Much of the area will appear to be impenetrable, but there are so many pathways marked by the local Fijians that there’s no need to worry about anything. There are crystal clear streams and magnificent waterfalls as a result of the mountainous nature of these places. One of the most famous destinations is Bouma Falls, in the National Heritage Park on Taveuni, because it was featured in the 1991 film ‘Return to the Blue Lagoon’ and it comes as no surprise when you see this beautiful area first hand. However, don’t limit your options just because one place is the most popular. There are many top rainforest sites here, like the coastal areas of Viti Levu, to be enjoyed.
4) Island Hopping
If you’re looking for a tried and true circuit, especially among the backpacking crowd, check out the north-westerly Yasawa Islands. You will see about 20 islands on this route, including Kuata, Waya, Wayasewa and Naviti (some of the most beautiful). The first three of these islands take about two hours to reach by catamaran form Nadi, while Naviti (the largest of the group) is another 50 minutes away. This is definitely the circuit we recommend for the adventure seekers as it has so much to do. Throughout your journey you’ll find great hiking trails, beautiful beaches and offshore snorkelling. Arguably the best part of the whole thing is that backpacker accommodation is very affordable, so you won’t be strapped for cash during your stay. If you want to try another stunning selection of islands then you may want to look south of the Yasawas to find the Mamanucas. If you have a great interest in surfing or sunbathing then this is definitely the place for you to go. These isles have been called the Fijian Surfers’ Paradise by some and it’s no surprise when you consider that wave lovers have been making the trip here since the mid-1980s. If you want some of the best surfing spots head over to Cloudbreak off of Tavarua Island. However, if you prefer to relax in the sun all day then you might be better off going to Tavarua’s sister islands. You’ll be greeted by beautiful white-sand beaches on Malolo Levu, Malolo Lailai, Mana, Matamanoa, Naviti, Qalito and Treasure Islands.
5) Sampling Grassroots Fijan Culture
If you’ve done any kind of research on Fiji whatsoever then you have probably already heard about how friendly the local people are, particularly to us tourists; if you want to experience this first hand, head to Vanua Levu. This is the second largest island of the archipelago and it’s the perfect place to sample local culture and traditions that have remained completely unsullied from tourism. Labasa is a large Indian community which is heavily into its sugar industry, while Savusavu is a smaller town which offers great diving and yachting opportunities. Both of these places are becoming more and more popular with tourists but if you delve deeper you’ll still find scores of secluded villages on this volcanic island, which has a wild and rugged interior. If you fancy staying in these villages to soak up the traditional Fijian lifestyle, with its lovo feasts and meke dancing, tours are simple to arrange.
6) Bird Watching
Fiji is known world-wide for being home to some of the most exotic looking birds and are not to be missed. If you thought the birds were exotic in Australia, then wait until you get here. You can literally see every colour imaginable on these animals, so bring some binoculars and a camera. Tavenui and Kaduva are arguably the best spots for bird-watching, while the Tunulao rainforest on Vanua Levu possesses rare silktail. Coloi-Suva Forest Park near Suva is another highlight, as is the Waidroka Bay Resort, which you’ll find near Queens Road on Vitu Levu.