With a bounty of natural and cultural marvels, Fiji is more than just a place to stop and flop on the sand. These five unforgettable experiences highlight Fiji’s most tempting offerings – unique animal encounters, breathtaking scenery, tantalising cuisine and a touch of luxury.
Swim with sea life
Every swim in Fiji’s sparkling South Pacific waters redefines the colour blue. Known as the “soft coral capital of the world”, the islands of Fiji are brimming with opportunities to go below the surface. And you don’t need to be a seasoned deep sea diver to experience it. Swimming and snorkelling should be fun, leisurely activities where you can go at your own pace. In Fiji, this is what it’s all about.
Fiji’s pristine beaches mean you can grab a snorkel and head straight out to explore the reefs just offshore. Most hotels and resorts will have snorkeling equipment to hire. Otherwise, you can often purchase it from the general store fairly inexpensively. For guaranteed sightings of vibrant coral and colourful fish, organising a day trip will be your best bet.
Beqa Island Lagoon off the coast of Viti Levu is a great place for beginners. The protected reef boasts thousands of exoitic fish and anemones with regular sightings of turtles, giant clams and sharks. This is also where you can opt for a truly unique, though slightly terrifying experience. Feel the thrill and majesty of swimming side by side with the ocean’s most formidable creatures. Shark Reef Marine Reserve was established in order to study and preserve the population of sharks of Fiji’s coral coast, and now offers gutsy visitors a chance to get in the water with them.
Would you prefer a swimming buddy with less teeth? Head to Naviti in the Yasawa Islands for the chance to swim with Manta Rays. At the south end of the island, Manta Ray passage is teeming with these velvety creatures, gliding through the water. To watch them from above is breathtaking. To swim alongside them is something else entirely. Be sure to visit during Manta season, between May and October.
Discover the islands from above
If you’re lucky enough to fly in during the day, you’ll get an entrée of what Fiji’s 330 islands look like from above. For a full course, it’s worth booking a scenic helicopter flight.
Fiji has dozens of helicopter tour companies so do your research and choose an operator with a good safety record. Opting for a Fijian-owned and run company is a nice way to ensure your tourist dollars go towards empowering and supporting the local community.
A popular flight route takes you on an aerial tour of Denarau, the largest integrated resort in the South Pacific. You’ll see the lush landscapes and perfectly maintained gardens of some of the biggest luxury resort chains in the South Pacific.
Heading further inland, discover Fiji’s overgrown jungles and striking mountain landscapes. Soaring above the Mt. Evans Range, expect to see rugged volcanic formations, pockets of wild orchids and spectacular waterfalls.
Perhaps the most popular scenic flight is the joy ride to Heart Island. Home to Tavarua Island Resort, this heart-shaped island is surrounded by balmy waters with pumping surf breaks. Each year, surfers come from all over the world flock to this heart-shaped island to take on Cloudbreak.
Scenic helicopter flights can be expensive, but are often a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Most resorts will have a handful of preferred tour companies they recommend to their guests. You can also organise scenic flights independently, or in advance through a travel agent.
Spend a day at the spa
Nothing says “holiday” like a relaxing spa treatment. Visitors to Fiji are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting pampered. Each resort will often have its own on-site spa, and some even offer in-room treatments so you don’t even have to go anywhere to receive a fabulous massage.
One of Fiji’s most renowned luxury spas can be found at Yasawa Island Resort. The Bavari Spa is essentially set on the sand, with double doors opening up to a pristine, private beach. The signature treatment is a four-handed Bavari Rhythm massage which entails two masseuses working out all your knots and melting away your troubles in smooth, synchronised movements.
Another highly-recommended outfit is the Sheraton Resort and Spa on Tokoriki Island. It’s one of the largest day spas in Fiji and is part of an adults-only island for the utmost relaxation and tranquility. Try the Fijian Warm Seashell Ritual. As the name suggests, this treatment uses locally-sourced shells to deliver a glorious massage with the help of sought-after Pure Fiji spa products.
Some resorts offers complimentary massages as an added bonus, and others have great deals that include a spa treatment as part of your package. Prices will vary between locations, but visitors will find a range of affordable day spas on Denarau and Viti Levu, as well as a host of up-market outfits in the luxury resorts. You don’t need to be a guest of a resort to utilise their day spa but bookings are essential.
Take a cooking class
Fijian food is a family affair at its core. The act of cooking and eating together is central to the local way of life, not unlike Australia, However, the methods and flavours are unique to Fiji and vary from island to island.
Visitors have a number of cooking schools to choose from when visiting Fiji. One highly-rated outfit is the Flavors of Fiji Cooking School in Nadi. Begin with a tour of Nadi’s thriving vegetable market, where you’ll pick out fresh produce to take back and turn into something tasty. Back at the nearby school, you’ll learn to cook up to eight local specialties under the guidance of experienced Fijian foodies. You’ll head home with a full belly, loads of recipes and a newfound love of cooking.
Many resorts also offer their own cooking classes. Some are run by the chefs of the restaurants, and others bring in instructors from the local community to teach traditional Fijian cooking methods. At an all-inclusive resort, this is often a free activity. Otherwise, it may come at an additional cost.
Explore the rainforests on foot
Fiji’s color scheme is dominated by breathtaking blues and golden sands, but there’s another hue that is hard to miss. Thick forests and undulating jungles showcase every shade of green you can imagine. From sweeping valleys to towering mountain ranges, Fiji’s wilderness areas are unlike any other. That’s not to say you need to take on the most challenging hike and spend your entire holiday out of breath. Some of the most scenic walking routes are also the most leisurely.
A trip to Tavoro Falls is not to be missed. Located in Bouma National Heritage Park on the island of Taveuni, this jungle hike encompasses a series of waterfalls with a few challenging stretches along the way. From the final vantage point, the views out to neighbouring islands are well worth the effort.
The Sigatoka Sand Dunes offer an interesting hiking experience. Spread across 600 hectares, some of the dunes stand as high as 60 metres tall. Choose between a one or two-hour trail, discovering the excavated sites of the early Lapita people and the fascinating surrounds of Fiji’s first national park.
You can also enjoy a stroll through the botanical gardens in Lautoka and learn about the medicinal uses of Fiji’s native flora.