Travelling to Fiji Guide: Which island and what to do
Daydreaming about your next Fiji holiday? With so many things to do and places to stay in Fiji, you’ll need plenty of time to explore and unwind. Here’s a guide to the best of this enchanting, paradisiacal land.
Getting to know Fiji
Fiji is a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, renowned for its endless beaches, love of rugby and unbeatable hospitality. With its population a shade less than 1 million, it sprawls across an archipelago of more than 330 islands, of which only 110 are inhabited. The capital is Suva, in the south of the largest island, though the tourist capital is Nadi, on that same island’s west coast. Fiji has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years; it was briefly a British colony for just under 100 years until it was declared a republic in 1987. Fiji is a common stopover for transpacific flights, so it’s worth getting out of the airport to explore this friendly island paradise.
The currency in Fiji is the Fijian Dollar. In 2017, one Fijian Dollar will buy you 63 Australian cents (as taken from Xe.com on 15/12/17). It always pays to use cash to avoid less-than-favourable conversion rates, though most established tourist spots will accept credit cards. Make sure you get the most out of your overseas travel by using the right credit card
Three languages are spoken in Fiji – Fijian, English and Hindi. As a British colony, English was the official language for over 100 years and is still widely spoken, however the dominant language is Fijian, with indigenous Fijians making up more than 50% of the population. Fijians of Indian descent make up a further 37%, mainly speaking a local variant of Hindi, known as Fiji Hindi.
When to go
Fiji is on the same latitude as Cairns, so it’s very warm and tropical. If you’re looking for drier, cooler weather (by which I mean, 23oC), the winter months are best. April/May and October/November are the nicest months, though the middle of winter is also great, especially if you’re hiking, sunbathing or snorkelling. Diving conditions are also clearest in winter, though the water temperature is also cooler.
How to get there and when to book
You can fly direct to Nadi International Airport from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. The flight from Sydney takes only four hours. Booking outside of school holidays and peak periods will always yield lower prices, and it also pays to book in advance. Australian passport holders are eligible for a free four-month holiday visa.
Where to go
Viti Levu is the largest island in Fiji and will be your first port of call. The two international airports are in Nadi and Suva.
Nadi is on the west coast and close to the beaches and resorts of Denarau. Unwind at the beach, enjoy some shopping and dining, and enjoy the 4- and 5-star resorts. If you have some time in Nadi, also check out Vuda Lookout and the Garden of the Sleeping Giant.
The Coral Coast, just 45 minutes’ drive from Nadi Airport, is a stunning 80km stretch of coastline that offers excellent water sports, incredible beaches and secluded resorts. The iconic Natadola Beach is a popular destination here. Home to the Intercontinental Hotel Fiji, it’s famous for its long stretch of white sand and excellent waves. The Coral Coast is also close to Sigatoka for all your shopping and dining needs.
Pacific Harbour is south of the Coral Coast and sits opposite the beautiful Yanuca and Beqa Islands. It’s home to many family-friendly resorts. Keep traveling east, and you end up in Suva, the nation’s capital. Rich in history and culture, you can visit the Fiji Museum and numerous Hindi temples.
The Mamanuca Islands lie just west of Viti Levu, so if you don’t feel like traveling far afield, this is an excellent place to hang your hammock. Famous for its clear, clean waters and excellent snorkelling, it’s a great place for the family. Yasawa Island is north of Viti Levu, and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Fiji.
Taveuni Island is considered one of Fiji’s highlights. Situated to the east of Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, it’s worth hopping across to hike Bouma National Heritage Park – a beautiful park in the north of Taveuni Island. The park is famous for its lush vegetation, tropical wildflower, deep pools, waterfalls and picturesque hiking trails. Taveuni Island also boasts beautiful white beaches and excellent diving.
And if you’re keen to go somewhere truly untouched, Rotuma Island is one of Fiji’s best-kept secrets. With only one flight a week (that’ll take you 2.5 hours’ flight north of Viti Levu), it’s secluded and untouched – one of the last true paradises on earth.
Unsurprisingly, Fijians love their fish. Try the local fish dishes with coconut cream, and make sure you try the Yaqona (kava) and fresh coconut. It’s worth travelling a little further afield, to local villages, to try the true taste of Fiji.
Fiji boasts some of the world’s top resorts, with beautiful bungalows, pools, beach frontage and quiet surrounds. Many of the top Fiji resorts are located in Mamanuca Islands, a string of islands close to Nadi. Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Castaway Island Resort and Malolo Island Resort are among the top resorts. On the south coast of Viti Levu, you’ll find a broader range of accommodation, with more budget and family-friendly options, though you’ll still find plenty of resorts.
Get off the beaten track and out of your resort, and go explore the real Fiji. Hire a car and visit a local village, or get on a boat or plane and visit an island, and try the local delicacies. The Fijian people are renowned for their welcoming hospitality – go meet them for yourself!
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