Fiji: what to see and do. Tropical islands, paradise beaches, and luxury hotels among the palm trees
December 4, 2015 | By: High50
Fiji. Image from Kuoni 620

Paradise uncovered. Image from Kuoni

Why go

It may be on the other side of the planet, but Fiji is one of the most beautiful long-haul destinations in the world, a true tropical island paradise. You can’t move for palm-fringed beaches, brightly coloured coral reefs and South Pacific charm, as well as unexpected sights such as the dense jungles and dramatic mountains of Viti Levu, and some of the top spa resorts in the world.

What to do

Corals underwater Fiji

The tinier islands may be postcard-perfect, but don’t be in a rush to leave the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu – this is where you will get a taste of the ‘real’ Fiji, with its traditional villages, rugged mountains, bustling markets and kava ceremonies.

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The Mamanuca Islands and the Yasawa Islands are beautiful, but busy. Beachcomber Island in particular has a reputation as a party resort, where you’ll find Australian and New Zealand backpackers during peak season.

Likuliku Lagoon Resort

Likuliku Lagoon Resort

If you’re looking for a desert-island experience, head east. Taveuni, Lomaiviti Islands and Lau Islands are still relatively underdeveloped, although they are a little more difficult to get to.

Where to stay

Fiji. Laucala Island Resort.

Laucala Island Resort is one of several luxury options

There is a huge range of accommodation here – from eco-friendly cottages (Matava Eco-Adventure Resort), to beachfront villas (Octopus Resort) and luxurious options such as Turtle Island Resort and Laucula Island Resort and Likuliku Lagoon Resort.

Popular hotel chains such as Sofitel and InterContinental have a presence around the main cities of Nadi and Suva, while affordable gems can be found on off-the-beaten-track islands such as Taveuni (Maravu Taveuni Lodge).

Where to eat

Thanks to the constant tourist presence, you can find almost any type of cuisine on Fiji, but nothing beats the freshly caught fish and seafood which can be found sizzling away on beachside barbecues across the country.

If you want to splash out, treat yourself to traditional Fijian cuisine at popular restaurants such as Blue Bure in Nadi, Guava in Suva, or one of the highly rated resort restaurants such as IVI Restaurant at the Outrigger Resort on Viti Levu.

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Fiji. Octopus Resort. Likuliku Bay

Octopus Resort is on Likuliku Bay, with a beautiful mile-long, golden sand beach

Getting around

It will come as no surprise to learn that in order to reach Fiji’s smaller islands, you’ll need a boat. Reasonably priced ferries leave daily from Pacific Harbour in Nadi, or Suva’s vast port, and stop off at most of the main islands. However, despite what the schedule says, they won’t necessarily leave until they have reached a certain quota of passengers.

Alternatively, you can rent water taxis from most of the main towns, or hire your own boat.

The roads on Vanua Levu and Viti Levy are pretty good and not too congested, although they are not terribly well signposted. If you choose to drive around the main islands, take a map with you, and leave yourself plenty of time to get from A to B.

When to go

Fiji has a tropical climate, which means that it can be very hot and very humid during the rainy season (November to April). The islands are prone to rainstorms and cyclones during this period, so you may wish to take your trip between May and October.

Fiji. Likuliku Lagoon Resort. Roderick Eime on Flickr CC

Accommodation on the water at Likuliku Lagoon Resort

Don’t miss

The sunrise from the east coast of the country. Fiji’s easterly islands are among the first places on Earth to see the sun rise each morning, and it is a truly magical experience to spend a morning sipping a coconut on a Koro Island beach, gazing out to the horizon as the sea changes from purple to pink to golden to turquoise.

Three things we like

Fiji. Turtle Island. Fiji Tourism

Fiji. Turtle Island. Fiji Tourism

  1. The kava. Fijian kava looks (and tastes) more like muddy water, with a slight aniseed aftertaste. It might not sound particularly appealing, but kava ceremonies are a big part of Fijian culture. The root of the kava plant is dried, pounded, mixed with water and strained, before being served in a small bowl or half a coconut shell. Drinking the kava is a communal experience, usually accompanied by traditional music or storytelling, and you should consider it a great honour if you are asked to partake. Kava has a mild sedative effect, so watch your intake – after four or five bowls you may start feeling a little bit woozy!
  2. The snorkeling. Fiji’s reefs are bursting with life, and the calm, warm waters are perfect for novice swimmers.
  3. The people. Fijians have a reputation as being among the friendliest, most hospitable people in the Southern Hemisphere. Expect to be greeted with a smile and a ‘bula’ (‘welcome’) wherever you go. On some of the smaller islands, the locals or resort workers will stand on the beach as your boat departs and sing you off with a version of ‘Isa Lei’ – a traditional Fijian leaving song.

Something we don’t like

The insects. They’re everywhere! All you can do is cover up with a good insect repellent, and bring your own mosquito net if you are staying in more rustic accommodation. Consider yourself lucky if your hotel room comes with a couple of geckos – they will hoover up the mosquitos and ants while you sleep.

High50 insider tips

  • Stock up on Fijian beauty products while you’re there – cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil is relatively cheap and available just about everywhere.
  • Take in a rugby match if you can – Fijians are crazy for the sport, and the men’s team is ranked among the best in the world. Before every match, players perform a cibi war dance, similar to New Zealand’s haka, and the crowd doesn’t stop cheering from the moment the dance ends until the final whistle blows.
  • When visiting Fijian villages, dress modestly to avoid causing offence. If you are introduced to a chief or another important local figure, take off your hat – it is seen as a sign of respect and will be very much appreciated.

Need to know

  • The currency is the Fijian Dollar. Change your money before you travel to avoid high commission rates. Cash is vital in Fiji, especially once you leave the major cities of Suva and Nadi.
  • Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations are recommended before travelling to Fiji.
  • Fiji is a multicultural country, with substantial Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sheikh populations. If you are visiting an unfamiliar religious building or temple, show respect by removing your shoes beforehand, and adhering to any other specific religious customs.
  • UK residents don’t need a visa to travel to Fiji, but your passport does need to be valid for at least six months after your departure date.
  • Fiji is 12 hours ahead (GMT +12).
  • Flight time is dependent on stopover. There are no direct flights to Fiji.
  • Type ‘I’ plug sockets are used across Fiji (small, three-pin), so bring an adaptor.
  • Driving is on the left-hand side.