Fiji consists of some 300 islands and is located 1,750 miles north east of Sydney, Australia. English is the official language, but most locals speak Fijian or Hindi. The Fijian dollar is the official currency and most resorts accept credit cards. Fiji’s main island is Viti Levu, but it also has a second large island Vanua Levu. Although most accommodation is found on the two main islands, many of the islands have resorts, providing a wealth of choice of where to stay.
Fiji is a true tropical island paradise, with golden sandy beaches, fringing reefs and lagoons, and a back drop of tropical palm trees and green vegetation. The natural splendors of the islands provide for all aquatic entertainments, and for shore based attractions you can try Kava drinking, visit the Orchid Island Cultural Center, or Thurston Botanical Gardens, or the Largest Hindi temple in the southern hemisphere, or see a fire walking display.
Fiji is considered the soft coral capital of the world and provides bountiful options for the visiting diver. We have considered Fiji diving in the below separate regions.
Table of Content
- Village Guide
- Whale Watching Guide
- Eco Tourism
- Backpackers Guide
- Getting to Fiji
- Where to Stay in Fiji
Fijians first settled their homeland about 8,000 years ago from south-east Asia. These Melanesian people also settled the islands to the north and east of Fiji like Vanuatu, New Caledonia and The Solomon Islands. A second migration from south-east Asia, distinguished by the arrival of Lapita pottery, brought Polynesians to Fiji about 3,000 years ago. Some of these Polynesians progressed further to the then uninhabited islands of Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand and Hawaii.
Ancient Fijians are well documented as being cannibals, engaging in gruesome localised warfare and believing in a animated spirit world. They lived in small fortified villages and formed clans with neighbouring villages through polygamy. However, they are less credited for being excellent sailors and navigators of the vast South Pacific Ocean and fine craftsmen and pottery makers. Unfortunately most of these skills have been forgotten or neglected and the ancient wood and thatch buildings have succumbed to the intense heat, rain and cyclones of the tropics, leaving only the rock foundations buried in the rainforest. Fiji’s legends have been passed down through story-telling and dances known as meke.
Europeans ‘discovered’ the Fiji Islands in 1643, but it wasn’t until after The Mutiny of the Bounty in 1789 that contact with the people was made. Over the next 100 years, trade, wars and friendships were made between rival Europeans and rival Fijian tribes. In 1874, tired of endless quarrels and warfare, King Cakabau ceded his kingdom to Britain at the historic old capital of Levuka on Ovalau. The British brought Colonial rule and introduced Indian labourers to the new sugar plantations. Fiji regained it’s independence by mutual consent in 1970. There are now almost 800,000 people living in Fiji. Half are indigenous Fijians (and Rotumans), about 44% Indians and the remainder of European or Chinese origin.
Sigatoka Sandunes National Park, Coral Coast
This 4-mile stretch of large windswept sandunes along the coast is a protected environment administered by the National Trust of Fiji. The park has a very informative visitor centre about the ancient inhabitants and ecology of the region. Pottery sherd from the Lapita Era (1000 years ago), buried in time by drifting sands, can be found scattered amongst the sandunes and several archaeological excavations have revealed ancient fishing settlements. There are several official trails to explore the sandunes which often expose these ancient pottery shards.
Tavuni Hill Fort, Coral Coast
Important archaeological sight with preserved foundations, ceremonial sites and killing stones. A visitor centre and guided tours provide a detailed insight into how life used to be in Fiji’s past. Tavuni is set on the peak of a fortified hill overlooking the rich farming area of the Sigatoka River Valley. A tar-sealed road follows the river from Sigatoka Town making it easy to get to from the resorts along the Coral Coast. The road continues beyond Tavuni alongside the river and through traditional villages right into the interior. Local buses leave from Sigatoka Town and it is easy to get off en- route and explore the surrounding hills.
Ancient rock paintings can be seen on Vatulele in the Southern Islands. There are two separate sites. One is 20 meters up on a cliff face and depicts human-like figures and hand impressions. The other, at the opening to an inland cave, shows numerous hand impressions. Unfortunately they are quite difficult to get to unless staying at the beautiful and justifiably expensive resort on the island.
There are also rock paintings in the caves on Sawa-i-Lau in the Yasawa Group.
Levuka, Old Capital
The Old Capital of Levuka on Ovalau is a charming colonial town which lost its power almost 100 years ago and has since still in time. Most buildings are well preserved and there are several historical sights including a monument where King Cakabau signed Fiji over to the Queen Victoria in 1874. Fiji’s oldest hotel, the Royal is located in Levuka along with several churches built in the mid 1800’s. There are also several homestays available in Levuka.
Museum / Cultural Centre
The Fiji Museum in Suva, Viti Levu, has an excellent display of trinkets from the past as well as some larger objects like traditional canoes. The Museum is a great place to soak up the atmosphere from Fiji’s mystical past.
There’s a Cultural Centre at Pacific Harbour which offers theatrical displays of Fiji’s past and present culture but it is too commercialized to be of much interest to discerning travellers. Another commercial presentation of a mock Fijian village is offered by the Ka Levu Cultural Centre near Sigatoka where an impressive re-constructed Fijian temple is the highlight.
Within the 850,000 hectares of natural forests in Fiji (nearly half the total landmass), there are large areas of hardwood trees including Sandalwood and Kauri. Fiji’s rainforest covers much of the larger islands, most of which is owned by local village clans. Here there are more than 2000 indigenous plant species, many of which have medicinal use, several beautiful bird species but only a few land animals.
Mangroves are estimated to cover nearly 20,000 hectares of Fiji’s coastal regions. These remarkable trees tolerate salty waters and anchor themselves in tidal estuaries or in muddy water that is high in oxygen. The mangrove forests are rich in bird and sea-life and are excellent fishing grounds for the locals.
Many parts of the coast along Viti Levu are covered in mangrove forests. A boat journey through the meandering corridors of the mangrove forests has yet to catch on as a tour in itself. However, some resorts offer guests private tours through these environments and it is quite easy to find a small boat around Nausori that is dropping passengers off at their villages along the river banks of the mangrove forests.
The Garden of the Sleeping Giant sits at the foothills of the Nausori Highlands about 10 minutes drive north of Nadi. The attractive landscaped gardens specialise in Fiji’s native plants as well as housing an impressive collection of orchids, some native. A jungle walk takes visitors past a large lily pond and through native forest.
Thurston Gardens in Suva is a public botanical park next to the Fiji Museum. Although there are few flowers in the park, the indigenous shrubs and trees are all labelled and give a calming atmosphere in the centre of this busy City.
South Sea Orchids, the Burness family home just outside Nadi, also has a collection of orchids and other tropical flowers. The family welcome visitors to their charming home and will happily show you their collection of traditional and colonial artifacts.
A unique feature in Fiji is the rare Tagimaucia flower which is found in the high rainforests of Taveuni and Vanua Levu in the Northern Islands. The most prolific flowering is around scenic Lake Tagimaucia between October and December. The trail is quite arduous, especially on a hot and humid day.
There are over 100 species of birds in Fiji. The main island of Viti Levu has many species of birds, especially around the rainforests along the coral coast and Pacific Harbour. Kadavu, a large rainforested island in the Southern Islands, has a number of stunning musk parrots as well as unique species of fantails and honeyeaters Taveuni in the Northern Islands has a diverse bird life including parrots and lorikeets. Endangered silktails can be found in the south eastern region of neighbouring Vanua Levu. There are several small islands that have been declared as Nature Reserves for birds, particularly nesting boobies. These include the 45-hectare Namenalala Island off Vanua Levu in the Northern Islands, Mabualau near Toberua Island in Lomaiviti, Bird Island off Vatulele in the Southern Islands and Hatana Island off Rotuma. Qamea and Matangi islands off Taveuni in the Northern Islands are other good spot for exploring and bird watching.
Fiji has few natural animals – a mere 30 species of land dwelling reptiles, 12 of which are endemic, and a few introduced mammals most of which have become pests like the commonly seen mongoose. Of the reptiles, the most interesting are the 2 species of small iguanas: the endemic crested iguana and the more common banded iguana which are closely related to those found in South America. The crested iguana is found mostly on Yaduataba Island off Vanua Levu which has become a sanctuary for these beautiful small iguanas since its rapid decline in the 1990s. They have also been seen on nearby islands including Nananu-i-Ra and Muake off northern Viti Levu, several of the larger Yasawa Islands and on Monuriki and Monu in the Mamanucas. The banded iguana is found throughout Fiji but it is difficult to spot in the wild hiding amongst Ivi trees (Tahitian Chestnut) where its uniform green colour blends in to its surroundings. Of the other 28 reptiles found in Fiji, 3 are frogs (including the common cane toad imported from South America to combat cane beatles and the elusive tree frog found in the rainforest of highlands Viti Levu), 10 are geckos, 12 skinks and 3 are snakes (the harmless Boa snake is seldom seen but reveered amongst Fijians as a god).
Sea turtles nest along many beaches in the Fiji Islands a few resorts have developed conservation programmes to help increase turtle population and dissuade local villagers from killing them for their meat. Of the five species of turtle which can be found in Fiji’s waters, three lay eggs on its beaches from Nov to March. Three species of sea snakes also dwell along the rugged coastlines where they come ashore to rest. The warm South Pacific Ocean also provide a home to dolphins, reef sharks, rays. There is an extraordinary variety of soft corals which are rich in marine life including an abundance of exotic fish, anemone and sea snakes. Fiji’s premier coral reefs are the Rainbow Reef between Taveuni and Vanua Levu in the Northern Islands and the Great Astrolabe Reef off Kadavu in the Southern Islands.
Kula Wildlife Park, outside Sigatoka on the Coral Coast has an excellent collection of Fiji’s natural wildlife and is a conservation park for Fiji’s endangered species. The park is set amongst a delightful lightly wooded rainforest with cages holding birds and other animals. Of particular interest are the many iguanas seen up close and the birds including orange doves and parrots. The park requires a minimum of 1 hour to walk around but 2 to 3 hours is preferred.
Staying in a Fijian Village is one of the most memorable experiences many tourists take home. Indigenous Fijians live a communal and very sharing lifestyle within large extended families. Their houses – bures – are traditionally single room buildings with bamboo woven walls and thatch roofs. Families eat, sleep and work in these single rooms. Kitchens are separate from the main building and are simple covered structures with firewood ovens on the ground. The loo is a covered pit in the ground somewhere out the back. There are many picturesque villages around Fiji.
If you are interested in over-nighting in a Fijian Village, there are several traditional landowner communities taht can arrange authentic village experiences. However, be prepared to rough it a bit, often without electricity and hot water, generally with unorganized tineraries and sometimes lacking in general hygiene both in bedding, food preparation and in litter polution which is a growing problem in rural Fiji. Staying in a village offers a great insight into Fijian culture and a chance to explore the local environment. This is an excellent way to experience Fijian culture whilst at the same time providing some financial support for the local people and village projects. The Fiji Governemnet actively promote this interaction with the local people as do many of the resorts who offer day trips to their local village. When exploring, tourists should always be accompanied by a local villager so as not to cause any insult to the local landowners and should follow village protocol including modest dress, no hats and no alcohol.
Navala Village in the highlands of Viti Levu is the most scenic village in Fiji and is well worth the two hour overland drive from nadi. Alternative venues include the pottery village of Nakabuta along the Coral Coast or chiefly Veseisei Village just north of Nadi. Yaqona ceremonies should be included in any organised village visit.
Village homes are without defined boundaries and doors are seldom closed. It is unusual to find a Fijian family living on land outside of a village. Subsistence farming, fishing, gathering firewood for cooking and hand-washing make up the normal days chores. At night, if not at church, Fijians will be drinking Yaqona, discussing village affairs and playing guitars. Most village people live without material goods, and many villages have no electricity and running water. Money to buy essential provisions and to pay for school fees is obtained by selling excess root-crops (dalo, cassava and yams) and vegetables at the town markets.
Women do most of the work around the house from collecting firewood for cooking to weaving mats for the floors whilst the men fish, plant and above all else, drink yaqona , the traditional drink of fiji. The village playing field is the centre of activity at sundown when all men relax playing touch rugby.
Fijians are very hospitable people and often invite guests to stay in their homes. Presenting a gift of Yaqona roots is the customary gratuity but donating at least F$50 per person per night will help pay for food and leave a family with some much needed monetary benefits. Some tourists take advantage of this hospitality and we stress it is not ethical to simply turn up at a village expecting accommodation.
Whale Watching Guide
At one time, a great many humpback whales visited the Fiji Islands. Unfortunately the whale trade which took off in the late 1800’s killed many of these great creatures and few have since returned. A tradition that remains from this former trade is the presentation of Tabua, or sperm whales teeth. These highly prized tokens are presented at all formal gatherings such as weddings and deaths and are also given to a person when asking for forgiveness or a favour.
Fiji is a haven for water sports lovers. Scuba diving is considered to be amongst the best in the world. Soft corals and huge sea-fans, plus an abundance of stunning tropical fish as well as reef sharks, dolphins, manta rays and turtles can be seen throughout the islands. Visibility is usually excellent, often more than 50 metres, and the sea is perpetually warm ranging from 26C in July to 29C in January. Many resorts offer PADI scuba diving courses starting from the comfort of the swimming pool but quickly moving into the wonders of shallow coral seas. For advanced scuba diving there are a number of specialist scuba diving vacation resorts and live aboard dive boats.
Fiji has several world-class surfing breaks as well as a few places good for body-surfing and beach breaks for beginners. The best Fiji surf breaks are over reefs and require experience as well as transport to get there making them free from crowds. There are several dedicated Fiji surf resorts around the islands offering transfers and gear including helmets and boards.
The close proximity of the 300 plus islands makes Fiji an excellent Kayaking destination and there are some fantastic places for a Sailing holiday. Yacht charters are available and many resorts have small catamarans for guest use. Game fishing is excellent year round with Marlin and Tuna the popular large game.
The main centre for casual water activities is in the Mamanuca Group , just off Nadi International Airport, where anyone can enjoy jet skiing, wind-surfing, para-sailing and water-skiing. There are lots of day cruises departing Denarau (10 minutes from Nadi Airport). Some tours offer stopovers at one of the resort islands where day-trippers can use the resort facilities for a small fee, or visit uninhabited islands for a day of snorkelling. These trips are an excellent way of seeing the islands and their magnificent beaches and lagoons.
Fiji surfing is renowned amongst the international surf community. The rave here is exciting reef breaks (not for beginners), secluded locations and the traditional Fijian hospitality. Most reef breaks around the islands are accessible only by boat so whilst this keeps the crowds down, it also puts the cost up.
Specialist fiji surfing resorts are found on Viti Levu, Mamanucas and Southern Islands. For the complete surfing fiji experience, several live aboard surf charters operate around the islands.
The best fiji surf breaks are found off Tavarua in the Mamanuca Group and off Beqa and Kadavu in the Southern Islands.
Internationally famous Namotu Left and Cloudbreak in the Mamanuca Group are recognised as the most challenging surf breaks in the South Pacific. Both are reef breaks and are not for beginners. Desperation and Swimming Pools add to the variety of breaks in the area. There are two small resorts on tiny coral islands just off Namotu Reef which cater exclusively to surfers. Namotu Surf Resort is a very small and informal island with expensive beachside bures. Tavarua is a little larger but is a package only vacation for American Surfers and is again very expensive. There are a couple of budget surf camps south of Nadi along a rather ordinary coastline that offer surf trips to nearby reef breaks.
Fiji has some great spots for game fishing and a number of excellent fishing charters based out of Denarau Marina in Nadi and at Pacific Harbour along the south coast of Viti Levu.
The deep channels around the rich reefs of Beqa and Kadavu in the Southern Islands are one of the best spots for Spanish Mackerel, Marlin, Yellow Fin Tuna, Trevally and Dolphin Fish. The area is assessable by staying on the tiny island of Nagigia right in the Southern Islands at Nagigia Island Resort which offers deep sea fishing or from the south coast of Viti Levu, the main island, where several day charters are available at Pacific Harbour (home of the country’s game fishing tournament in August).
Another excellent fishing area is off the north coast of Taveuni, particularly along the 40km reef alongside Matangi Island and Laucala. This offers great casting for the big fish. Matangi Island Resort offers game fishing trips to its guests.
Another excellent area for game fishing is around the southern Mamanuca Group. This popular holiday destination is geared up for tourism and some of the resorts offer their own sports fishing boats including Tokoriki Island Resort. There are several larger game fishing charters operating from Denarau Marina, just outside of Nadi on Viti Levu (just 15 minutes by boat to the Mamanucas) and from Musket Cove Resort in the heart of the Mamanuca Group.
Fiji kayaking holidays are available around the Yasawa group and Kadavu in the Southern Islands. Overnight trips with professional guides are offered by two companies based in Fiji, with the best months from May to October when the seas are generally calmer.
Almost every beach resort offers kayaks to its guests. Some are simple paddle boast which are good for exploring the nearby coastline or just sitting off the beach relaxing. Sea kayaks are offered by some resorts and enable guests to explore further.
River rafting is available on Viti Levu passing several excellent rapids and venturing deep into the remote parts of the island. Another excellent way to explore the rivers is on a traditional bilibili raft made from bamboos. These trips are available on the Navua River on the South Coast.
The National Trust of Fiji administer six National Parks designated as areas of outstanding national beauty. Our pick of the National Parks and other hiking trails include:
Koroyanitu National Park, Nadi Area, Viti Levu
This National Park offers several day and overnight walks, a visitor centre, scenic lodge accommodation and camping. There’s a lovely circular trail that leads into the rainforest, through Banyan Tree forests to a high waterfall and returns along the open the grassy ridges of the surrounding hills with views of four waterfalls and the sea in the far distance. Highly recommended.
Sigatoka Sandunes National Park, Viti Levu
This 4-mile stretch of large windswept sandunes along the coast is a protected environment administered by the National Trust of Fiji. The park has a very informative visitor centre about the history and ecology of the region. There are several official trails to explore the sandunes which often expose ancient pottery shards.
Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve, Suva, Viti Levu
Offers 6km of trails through rainforest less than 20 minutes drive from Suva. The area has several small waterfalls, indigenous flora, bird life, scenic lookouts. However, a note of caution: being close to Suva, the park is a hot spot for crime and a recent case of rape has further scarred the name of the park. Buses go beyond Colo-i-Suva into the heart of Naitasiri. Naitasiri is a stunning region, very traditional with lots of thatch villages and small family plantations. Naitasiri and neighbouring Namosi are the best regions in Fiji to explore the experience the “old” Fiji. Bad weather is common and roads are frequently flooded. This is traditional countryside and although accessible to tourists, village protocol should be observed – before exploring present yaqona to the local chief and ask his permission – you will be encouraged to take a local villager with you as a guide.
Bouma National Park, Taveuni, Northern Islands
In the beautiful Garden Island of Taveuni this park offers three separate hikes – Tavoro Waterfalls, Lavena Coastal Walk and Vidawa Rainforest Hike, all excellent. Tavoro Waterfalls is a well maintained trail leading to three waterfalls. The first waterfall is a 5-minute flat stroll from the main road. The second and third falls are thirty minute hikes up steep slopes crossing rivers. The Lavena Coastal Walk is much tamer and follows the flat coastline for an hour with lovely views before heading inland through tropical forest to a beautiful swimming waterfall. There is also a rough trail to Lake Tagimaucia, home of the rare Tagimaucia flower that comes out in abundance between October and December, although this arduous trek takes a full day hacking through steep rainforest – guide essential.
Nausori Highlands, Nadi Area, Viti Levu
This inland rural area is an impressive collection of rolling hills, river valleys and volcanic peaks. The highlands also offer fantastic views over the Mamanuca and southern Yasawa Islands to the west. The hills transform from sunburnt grassland to lush green valleys during the wet season from December to April.
Waya Island, Yasawa Islands
The scenic trails meandering along the hilly island of Waya offers some of the most scenic walks in Fiji. What makes these walks so special are the dramatic open views along the high coastal ridges. The island lacks trees and is covered in knee high grass. Not good for hay fever sufferers but for those who enjoy panoramic views of dramatic coastlines, this is the one for you.
Lovoni Trail, Ovalau, Lomaiviti Group
The tropical mountains behind Levuka on Ovalau have some excellent trails through thick rainforest to waterfalls and swimming pools. The beauty here is that they can all be reached from the road a short walk from the historic town of Levuka. Of notable interest for hikers is an arduous day trek to remarkable Lovoni Village, isolated in the centre of the island.
Fiji Eco-tourism plays a significant role in attracting travellers to the country. There are nature reserves for bird watching, unique species of iguanas, vibrant tropical rainforest with thousands of plants, most with medicinal value as well as the beautiful Tagimaucia flower which is unique to the high hills of Taveuni. The promotion of such wonderful assets not only encourages the local people to protect their heritage but also helps support the lives of those living in rural areas by giving them employment opportunities.
Wildlife and Nature Reserves
The Fijians have a rich culture and fascinating lifestyle. Staying in a village gives visitors the chance to share this lifestyle whilst contributing in a small way to the local people. It is common to be invited to stay in a village for the night when striking up a conversation with a Fijian person. In such circumstances, the offering of yaqona roots to the host or village chief is the traditional custom when visiting the village and tourists are encouraged to observe this important protocol. A few families offer homestay in their villages for a small fee.
Pacific Travel Guides supports:
- Minimum impact tourism and active support in the protection of the environment
- The use of local materials for accommodation buildings and resorts encouraging susceptibility not waste
- Resorts employing staff from local villages, buying produce from local farmers and supporting social developments in the local area
Fiji backpackers are spoiled with choice. The Mamanuca Group are the closest islands to Nadi Airport and offer small islands with nice beaches and a definite party-style atmosphere. The extremely popular and well trodden Yasawa Islands offers picturesque beaches, lots of budget beach resorts and is the place to meet fellow travellers and swap stories. To escape the crowds, head around the main island of Viti Levu which offers spectacular scenery, several lovely secluded beaches and undiscovered offshore islands with small locally owned village resorts – a great place for adventure. The Northern Islands and Southern Islands are less travelled and are both good places for nature lovers and diving enthusiasts. The really adventurous head to the Lomaiviti or Lau Group where travel is governed by spontaneity.
There are Fiji backpacker hostels all around the islands – most of them disguised as budget beach resorts, others as guesthouses. Some are lively and others laid back – prices start at about F$50 for a dorm bed with meals, F$100 for private bungalow – some allow you to pitch a tent for F$10 but the sweltering early morning heat can make this an uncomfortable way to go. Camping in the wild is not encouraged and should not be considered unless first consulting with the local Fijian chief – permission may be given in special circumstances only as it is considered culturally insensitive.
Some of the more popular backpacker routes are described below:
Circle Viti Levu – best for adventure, villages and beach combing
The main island of Viti Levu has some good varied attractions. It takes an entire day to go all the way around the island by car without stopping so you want at least three days to see the island properly. Heading south from Nadi, it’s about an hour to the Coral Coast, a popular holiday destination with several large hotels. There are also several small beach bungalows and budget hostels to spend a few days relaxing on picturesque beaches, although neither snorkelling or swimming is much good here. Leaving the Coral Coast, it’s about an hour to Pacific Harbour, the activity centre of Fiji with river rafting, white water rafting and vibrant tropical rainforest, waterfalls and traditional villages in the highlands. The Navua River Resort is the place to stay and organize your activities. Forty minutes further along the coast is Suva, the capital of Fiji. Suva is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with excellent restaurants, lively bars and nightclubs, a good cinema but no beach, although the harbour setting is attractive. There are several budget hostels in town or slightly inland (15 minutes from downtown) is Colo-i-Suva Forest Park where you can visit the rainforest and stay at the Raintree Lodge.
The road north from Suva travels slightly inland through low lying forest all the way to Rakiraki Town on the north coast. There are a few attractions along this scenic route including the offshore island of Caqalai about 20-minutes by boat from Waidalice Village. Caqalai Island Resort is a small coral island with lovely beaches and great snorkelling. From Caqalai, you can take a 50-minute boat ride to Ovalau Island and the old capital of Levuka (colonial heritage trail, lush rainforest with hiking trails, natural swimming pools) – you can also fly to Ovalau from Suva (the flight takes just 15 minutes). Another good place to stay on the main island north of Suva is at very traditional Natalei Village Beach Resort on a black sand beach and surrounded by tropical forests and waterfalls. The sunny north coast of Viti Levu is dominated by sugar cane fields and mountains. Most of the coast is mangrove forests but off Rakiraki is one of the nicest holiday islands in all of Fiji – Nananu-i-Ra (can be reached by road from Nadi in under 3 hours). This small island with rolling hills is good for exploring, has lots of lovely beaches and several budget cottages. The atmosphere is very laid back and there are no Fijian villages and therefore no restricted protocol to follow. Heading back towards Nadi, about 50-minutes inland from Ba Town is the delightful Navala Village, Fiji’s most picturesque village with over 200 traditional thatch bures and not a single cement building except for the church and school. One of the village chiefs has set up a Navua Village Resort just outside the village overlooking the Ba River.
About 30 minutes north of Nadi is the Sugar City of Lautoka. There are few attractions here except for the colourful market Some boats depart Lautoka Port for the Yasawa Islands. A 30-minute rough trail inland from Lautoka leads to Koroyanitu National Park with several nice walking trails with waterfalls and a lodge style accommodation that is barely used. The short trail takes only about 2 hours – however, is possible to walk for days with a guide staying in mountain villages along the way.
Mamanuca Islands – best for easy access and partying
These offshore island off the west coast of Nadi are the stuff of tropical dreams. It’s possible to go island hopping all the way through the two groups of islands. The nearest coral island is South Sea Island which takes 30-minutes to reach by boat and just 5 minutes to walk around – a day here is more enough unless you want to do nothing more and watch the world go by. Beachcomber, just 1 hour by boat, is a similar style tiny island but with a bit more of a buzz to it – there are lots of organized activities and the 100-bed mix dormitory encourages a beer-drinking party animal crowd. Funky Fish Resort on Malolo Island is a little more laid back. Mana Island has a large Japanese resort flanked by three backpacker resorts – the beach here is pleasant but unfortunately terribly run with poor accommodation and health standards.
Yasawa Islands Hopping – best for beaches, meeting other travellers and chilling
The well trodden Yasawa Islands comprises a chain of about 20 islands with about 30 budget beach resorts amongst them. The chain is split into four main clumps – Kuata, Waya and Wayasewa at the southern end of the chain are the closest to Nadi taking about 2 hours to reach by fast catamaran. These are all high islands with fantastic hiking trails, glorious scenery and lovely beaches, with great snorkelling offshore. Kuata Island Resort is popular with backpackers, Twin Bay Resort is a lively but more down-to-earth resort with a gorgeous beach and sand spit and has fantastic walking trails and hill views. For those looking for absolute peace and quiet, try Batside Resort on its own secluded beachfront with just two bures and gorgeos views to the steep crater across the bay.
Naviti, the largest island of the group, clumped together with several smaller islands, are in the middle of the group and takes another 50 minutes travelling time. At the southern end of Naviti is Manta Ray Resort on the small island of Nanuya Balavu – this is a lively backpackers resort with lots of activities and well organized accommodation – it is just five minutes from the famous Manta Ray snorkelling spot (season from May to October). About twenty minutes north of the Manta rays is a lovely sweeping beach (not good for swimming) with three resorts including Whitesands and Korovou . There are several nice hikes to secluded beaches and into the hills.
The third section comprises of Matacawalevu, with the intimate Long Beach Resort on a gorgeosu white sandy beach, Tavewa Island with lively Coral View Resort and Nacula Island with the slightly more upmarket budget resorts of Oarsman’s Bay and Safe Landing as well as the distinctly budget Navua Lodge. All the later are another hour travelling time to the north of Naviti island. The furthest island, Yasawa, a long thin island, is in the far north, and has no backpacker resorts.
The majority of the beach resorts throughout the group are run by local Fijians and they will take you on village visits and snorkelling trips to outer reefs. The standard of resorts varies greatly.
The Northern Islands Tour – best for hiking, nature and scuba diving
Vanua Levu and Taveuni in the north are large islands with a focus on Eco-tourism, the rainforest and scuba diving. Vanua Levu is the second largest island although tourism is centred around the southern town of Savusavu with its surrounding rainforest and nature reserves. Savusavu is the most charming of Fiji’s towns with a beautiful marina, lots of good restaurants and cafes and scuba diving, kayaking and game fishing tour companies. the best of the budget accommodation is at Savusavu Hotsprings Hotel which offers dorm beds.
Neighbouring Taveuni has some of the country’s best scenery and the largest National Park – Bouma. Here you can experience over 30 waterfalls, several maintained walking trails, lots of bush hikes and a marine park with outstanding snorkelling. Basic accommodation in the National Park is located at Lavena Village Lodge , or otherwise budget cottages are available near the airport at Bibi Hideaway . The diving here is of world recognition (soft corals are unbelievable) and for those looking to dive the world famous Rainbow Reef, dorm accommodation with dive packages is offered by Garden Island Resort , just 15-minutes boat ride to the dive sites. These islands are less developed than the Yasawas and the local Fijian villages tend to be a lot friendlier and welcoming to outsiders.
Getting to Fiji
Despite its remote location, Fiji is a hassle-free destination to travel to. With Nadi International Airport on Vitu Levu serving as the main hub for international flights, visitors can travel direct from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Korea and China. Luckily for many tourists, entering the country is also hassle-free with a visitor visa being granted on arrival.
Fiji also has a number of domestic airports throughout the various islands which divers tend to make use of after landing on Vitu Levu. Many liveaboard companies and resorts are willing to arrange transportation from these local airports to your final diving destination.
Where to Stay in Fiji
Shore-based dive resorts, mainstream hotels and villas and liveaboards are all options when planning a visit to Fiji. Accommodation is offered right in the centre of all the diving action in various locations as well as in more secluded areas where a quick boat ride will be required to access the reefs. Day trips and exciting shark dives can also be arranged through dive shops in various locations. If opting for a liveaboard experience, ensure that the itinerary includes a shark-feeding experience in Vitu Levu.
Scuba Diving in Fiji?
Check out our Fiji dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!