Fiji Travel Tips
This archipelago of 330 mostly uninhabited islands is what postcards and brochures are made of.
There’s perhaps no better place to escape the humdrum of everyday life where swaying palms, coconut plantations, candy-coloured cocktails and smiling locals are the norm. But putting all those tropical clichés aside, Fiji is exactly the kind of nirvana where you’ll find your inner island bliss.
Fiji maintains a balmy year-round climate; one of the key reasons it consistently tops travellers’ must-visit lists. Maximum temperatures rarely move beyond 26-31 degrees Celsius. Southeast trade winds bring the dry weather from late March to early December, while rainy season runs from December to April where heavy, yet brief downpours are common.
From bures to beachfront hotel rooms and self-contained villas to swish 5-star suites, you certainly won't be hard-pressed finding a place to lay your head. Most resorts in Fiji are absolutely bursting with facilities where you can choose to do as little or as much as you please.
Viti Levu is the largest and most developed of all the islands, home to the capital of Suva, tourism hub Nadi and the spectacular Coral Coast. Choose a base here if you want to get out and explore, as shopping, nightlife and inland adventure tours are within easy reach.
Mid-range hotels like Mercure Nadi Hotel and Tokatoka Resort Hotel are fine options with plenty of facilities but will still leave you with a bit of spending money for activities or eating out. If the purse strings are tight, venture out to the secluded Yasawas islands. The islets here are popular with backpackers thanks to affordable resorts like Blue Lagoon Beach Resort and Mantaray Island Resort.
Alternatively, you can up the wow factor in a luxurious beachfront bure at a Coral Coast hideaway. Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa and The Naviti are two perennial favourites, both with honeymooners and the family set. Fijians are renowned for their love of family and little ones, so many resorts boast exceptional kids clubs and babysitting services.
Those with cash to splash may want to make their base on Denarau Island, an upscale playground for the rich and famous with a high concentration of big name hotels and world-class shopping. Radisson Blu Resort offers it all including a sprawling lagoon pool, beachfront location, world-class dining, a kids' club and day spa.
There are also plenty of adults-only resorts to keep the magic alive on your Fijian getaway. Things don't get more romantic, private or luxurious than at the spectacular Matamonoa Island Resort or Likuliku Lagoon Resort where you can spend your days indulging in couples' massages, relaxing by the pool and enjoying candlelit dinners on the beach.
Attractions And Activities
When it comes to culture, there's plenty of immerse yourself in on Viti Levu, where ethnicities and traditions collide. Indo-Fijians have been part of Fiji's cultural landscape since the 19th Century and with 25% of Fijians practising Hindis, there are countless colourful temples to visit, including Hindi Temple – the largest in the Pacific – at the southern end of Nadi's main street.
Nadi is also the place to pick up traditional handicrafts at the many open-air markets including wooden kava bowls, hand-painted saris and sarongs, and of course, obligatory shell jewellery. Shopaholics rejoice!
Continue on dry land by embarking on a village tour through the mountains or pay a visit to the Sawau Tribe on Beqa Island and witness (and even partake in) the traditional art of fire walking.
Over on Fiji's second largest island, Vanua Levu is an almost untouched landscape of soaring trees and lush tropical vegetation – the perfect spot for some four-wheel driving.
Water-based activities don't get much better than in Fiji. While you can simply 'drop and flop' on the sandy shores soaking up the sun, Fiji is an adventure seeker's paradise both above and below the surface.
Beneath the surface is a water wonderland brimming with tropical hyper-coloured marine life and coral beds. Taveuni, Bligh Water and Kadavu Island are three of the best diving sights offering crystal-clear water.
Close to Nadi is the heart-shaped island of Tavarua in the Mamanucas. An absolutely paradise for surfers, Tavarua is home to one of the world's most challenging and respected waves, Cloudbreak. Surfers the world over flock to this spot to master the reef break, along with the three to eight-foot waves of nearby Restaurants.
If that all sounds a bit much, make the most of the warm tropical water with a kayak, boating, stand-up paddle boarding or snorkelling session. As the sun goes down, a sunset dinner cruise is the perfect way to cap off a long day of activities.
But no matter how you choose to spend your time, consider a digital detox tomake the most of Fiji's natural wonders. One thing to note in Fiji is that everything runs on 'island time'. Things happen when they happen so you just need to simply go with the flow. You haven't got anywhere to be! And if there's one word of advice – order two cocktails at a time.
The nation may be celebrated for its natural beauty, but Fijians have much more to brag about – their food.
As with most islands, the basic elements of Fijian cuisine are heavily influenced by the sea. Staples of dishes are seafood, starchy root vegetables, rice, cassava, coconut, leafy vegetables and tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, papaya and bananas.
Perhaps the islands' most famed delicacy is kokoda, a salad of raw white fish 'cooked' in citrus juices, then tossed with a tantalising blend of chilli, tomatoes and coconut milk. Served cold, kokoda is a must try when visiting Fiji.
You can even try your hand at whipping up your own kokoda with a cooking class in Nadi, preparing dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
The addition of fragrant and exotic spices to traditional ingredients has made a distinction between Indo-Fijian cuisine and its South Pacific culinary counterparts. You'll find curries and Asian dishes in many restaurants around the islands; in fact, some of the best places to eat are these small cafes – think wholesome, cheap and filling meals. But that's not to say there's any shortage of culinary excellence – many resorts have a rotating roster of world-renowned chefs like Nobu Matushisa running the kitchen.
Resorts and some villages will invite guests to join traditional ceremonies, like a lovo night at least once a week. Lovo is a feast prepared underground beneath burning coals and coconut husks. Much like a Kiwi hangi, meats and vegetables are steamed in a pit before being dug up and served.
Liquid nourishment generally comes in the form of fruity cocktails or freshly-cut coconuts, but you'll likely have heard about kava too - the peppery, mildly intoxicating drink made from the root of the pepper plant. Favoured for its cultural significance rather than its taste (and tongue numbing qualities) many hotels also perform weekly kava ceremonies where guests are asked to participate.
Fiji may be perennially popular with honeymooners, families and holidaymakers alike, but you’ll still be able to carve out your own slice of island paradise whether you want to do it all or simply soak up the sun.
Words by Anna Howard
Book flights and holiday packages to Fiji through the Virgin Australia website or by calling 13 67 89 (in Australia).