An archipelago of more than 330 islands in the South Pacific Oceans is an idyllic dream destination that percentage wise of global travellers very few venture to. I’m here to show you that Vacations to Fiji should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The nation’s capital is Suva located on the island of Viti Levu, along with Vanua Leva are the largest of the vast islands in the region. The most common flight route lands you in Nadi on Viti Levu. This is where you get the divide of tourist who wants an action-packed city like life with lots to do or the other side who want to get away from the main islands to soak up a more relaxing time, however, mix it up as you can do both!
Here are seven of the must-do things when in Fiji:
- Sailing and snorkelling around the islands
This is a not to be missed experience when in Fiji and there is no shortage of companies to provide just what you need. Coral Cats offer a more relaxed smaller tour which is relatively low key. But there is a selection of much larger day cruise options. Captain Cook cruises have a wide range also, and the snorkelling must go down as some of the best in the world, we are talking electric blue sea with visibility as far as you can see with vibrant coloured corals and sea life to match, a must-do. For those of you who want the deeper ocean and scuba diving in Fiji there are a plethora of companies offering these services like Paradise in Fiji.
- The garden of the sleeping giant
One of the world’s best horticultural secrets is the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The garden contains upwards of 2000 different kinds of Asian orchids and hybrids. Entrance fee to the site is around US$8 so roughly FJ$18 and well worth an afternoon visit when the sun enhances the vibrancy of the gardens.
Having been to many tropical gardens I must say this stole the show by some margin, the variety and colours were astounding, and you bump into people who are not really sold on walking around gardens looking at flowers taking pictures like a mob of paparazzi chasing a celebrity, so that gives you some idea of the experience.
There’s more to this than just seeing orchids though as it gives you a chance to explore a little of the Fijian jungle and experience the lush diversity of flora and fauna on offer. Bear in mind it’s only 20 minutes outside Nadi, so you are not disrupting any other travel plans to go and spend a few hours here and take it all in.
- Swimming at the waterfalls
There are numerous waterfalls from which you can swim, but take my advice, don’t necessarily take the help of local taxi drivers who tell you they know the best place.
There were more than a few reports of dangerous drives of three hours or more on unsuitable roads to eventually get to a waterfall that was no better than one a lot closer and a safer drive away.
Paradise in Fiji offer these kinds of outings and also The Jewel of Fiji Tour both have won awards, the latter also takes in a Fijian Village Tour which I’ll be covering at #5 on the list of must do’s so that you can pack more into your day.
- Natural hot springs- relaxationand mud!
Again another activity that is not far off the beaten track but well worth a visit, it is just a little further down the road from the Garden of the Sleeping Giant.
The springs are known to the locals as a place to self-cleanse, and to naturally beautify yourself. This is quite a process, starting by getting covered in warm mud from the geothermal spring and relaxing in the sun to let it bake.
You then proceed to relax and soothe in the pool of creamy like mud. After resting in there, it’s onto another mud pool for more treatment in decreasing temperatures leading to an eventual clean off. There are other local massages that you can opt for afterwards for the full experience.
You can visit the garden and the Sabeto Hot springs on the same day. A good tour company for this is Fiji Eco Tours, they have a combo package including transport back and forth your hotel and includes lunch, and don’t forget the village visit also, all inclusive for just over FJ$200 – so just under US$100. You’ll even get to enjoy the customary ‘Kava’ ceremony (you’ll get this more than once on your travels throughout the country). However, the taste, well I’ll leave that to your judgement.
- Drink kava with the locals in their village
Spending time with the locals in Fiji is one of the highlights of any Fijian holiday, the people here are very friendly and helpful to visitors in general.
Stopping at traditional village is usually part of the tour experiences I’ve mentioned above or can be booked separately. As I said you are pretty much guaranteed, a ‘kava’ ceremony will be part of whatever one you end up choosing. Kava is Fijian traditional drink that comes from the pepper plant root and mixed with water. When you drink it, it leaves you with a numb feeling in your mouth and acts as a relaxant. It’s certainly an acquired taste, but its all part of the real Fijian experience.
- Take in a first landing sunrise
I have had the pleasure of witnessing many sunrises in around of the world, but nothing matches the sunrise over the Mountain of the Sleeping Giant in Viti Levu. There are many great vantage points on First Landing and I managed to get myself to a little seaside cafe with a wooden dock and witnessed the best sunrise of my life. Cotton clouds being pierced by a golden ray against electric blue morning sky reflecting off the calm waters of Nadi Bay. Generally, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, not for me, my alarm was set at 05:40 every morning for my tea and sunrise.
- See the islands from above
If your budget allows it, don’t give it a second thought. Flying over the Mamanuca Islands is an incredible experience. Many companies run these excursions.
Pacific Island Air run a number of sightseeing tours and island hopping options or Helitours Fiji. Flight times can vary which is useful to give plenty of opportunities to work it around your schedule.
For those of you who are nostalgic movie buffs, there are flights available over Monuriki Island where the Tom Hanks movie Castaway was filmed.
Budget wise you will be looking at FJ$205 for a short flight, so it might not be for everyone depending on your itinerary, but if this is a once in a lifetime journey to Fiji, this is a once in a lifetime activity.
Fiji holidays seems to put many a traveller off due to its geo-location as it seems too far to go. But in today’s global tourism where many of the famous tourist spots are overrun and struggle to deal with the environmental impact that heavy tourism brings, this is a breath of fresh air, Fiji is how those places once were. If you don’t tick it off your bucket list soon, when you eventually get there, everyone else will already be waiting for you.
Peter Faulk is blogger with an avid passion for travel and adventure, especially for Fiji and the Pacific Islands. He is associated with Paradise in Fiji one of the most experienced Fijian travel companies with years of holidays to Fiji under their belts.