For some travellers, a palm-tree-lined beach on a tropical island represents the perfect getaway. Whilst there’s plenty of that available across the Fiji Islands, there are so many other activities and excursions to be enjoyed in this vibrant nation. Here’s our guide to the best things to see and do in Fiji.
The Fiji Islands are surrounded by beautiful coral reefs brimming with marine life. The waters are warm and clear year-round. You can snorkel off many beaches here, but you’ll discover the best snorkel spots if you head out on a boat trip to a coral reef to discover the resident fish and underwater life. Dive stores are located throughout the islands and in most resorts that run regular dive trips for all abilities.
A bure (pronounced bur-ray) is a traditional Fijian hut or bungalow with a thatched roof and natural timber construction. Most resorts in Fiji offer bures as a style of accommodation for those wishing to enjoy an authentic Fijian experience. The interior of these luxury options can be very modern with high-end furniture, while traditional bures tend to be very basic, with occupants sitting and sleeping on straw mats. Resorts specialising in bures are often an eco-friendly way to enjoy Fiji.
Fiji is made up of over 330 islands, although not all are inhabited. The closest island group next to the mainland of Viti Levu is the Mamanuca Islands, which are popular for day trips as well as overnight stays. Enjoy the boat journey out to uninhabited tropical islands, go swimming and snorkelling and enjoy a Fijian buffet for lunch before relaxing with an ocean view.
For some of the best views of Fiji’s rural landscape, head up the Nausori Highlands off the Nadi Back Road. From the road, you can hike around some of the hills and enjoy a clear view of the Nadi and Denarau areas and out to sea.
Horses play a key transportation role for many Fijians, especially those living in rural areas. It’s not unusual to see young children riding and guiding several horses at once in rural villages. There are several beaches along Fiji’s Coral Coast such as Natadola Bay and Wailoaloa where you can enjoy horse riding at sunset along the beach. This is an activity best enjoyed either at sunset or in the early morning as the heat can get too much for the horses during the middle of the day.
There are several waterfalls around Fiji worth visiting, especially on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Most require a short jungle trek yet the walk is worth it to get to the cool rushing water tumbling downhill over rocks. The pools at the bottom of some of Fiji’s waterfalls make great swimming sports for a cool down.
Loosen up with a traditional Fijian massage during your time in this most relaxing of destinations. Most resorts and tourist areas offer various spa treatments from Fijian massage to coconut milk skin treatments. Coconut-based products are used in many island spa therapies and you can expect to see frangipanis adorning the massage tables.
Fresh coconut water is sweet, hydrating and delicious when enjoyed in the hot Fijian sun. You can purchase ready-to-drink coconuts at resorts, restaurants or roadside stalls. Stallholders will lop the top off with a machete and hand over a straw to extract the tasty juice within. Once you’ve finished the liquid, you can crack open the rest of the shell to scoop out and eat the flesh.
Fijian sunsets are something special. The colours tend to linger in the sky, bathing the surrounding areas and palm trees in a harmony of red, pink and golden light. Sunsets are especially spectacular after an afternoon thunderstorm where the clouds are already in intense and dramatic formations.
Fiji has the fertile soil and warm climate required for growing a variety of tropical fruits. Get your daily vitamin dose with sweet local offerings of bananas, paw-paw, passionfruit, pineapple, tangy starfruit, soursop and even the cacao fruit. Head to the local produce markets in Nadi, Namaka and Suva to discover all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables.
If you are staying in a resort, it can be easy to forget about what the real Fiji might look like. Visiting a village – whether as part of a tour group or on an independent trip – is an important activity to help understand the local way of life. Wages are low in Fiji and living conditions can be very basic, but the people are known to be among the most gracious, friendly and welcoming you’ll find anywhere. If you are planning on visiting a village, take some books, paper and coloured pencils for any children and some kava for the village chief.
Kava is a way of life for Fijians. This drink is made from ground yaqona root, mixed with water and strained through a cloth. To put it bluntly, it looks like muddy water and the taste isn’t that far off for most tourists and expats. Providing a numb or tingly sensation in the mouth, the drink can provide a mildly relaxing sensation. Fijians drink a lot of kava, so if you ever need to offer a gift to a village chief, this is always a safe bet.
Fiji’s pearls are said to be among the rarest in the world due to their incredible colours. In Savusavu, on Vanua Levu, you can visit the J Hunter Pearls shop to learn about the pearl-cultivating process and snorkel around the pearl farm in the bay.
Fiji has such a wealth of historic and archaeological sites researchers now believe early Fijians were a prehistoric Lapita people. Excavations have discovered pottery shards dating back 2,600 years whilst the excavation of human remains has revealed evidence of a cannibalistic history in Fiji.
The Kula Eco Park near Sigatoka has a breeding programme for the crested iguana. This wildlife park has an array of beautiful Fijian flora and fauna and offers the opportunity to hold one of these bright green reptiles. The Eco Park has a strong focus on educating children about these beautiful yet endangered creatures.