The tropical South Pacific nation of Fiji has over 300 tropical islands with beautiful beaches and great surfing, coral reefs with spectacular diving and snorkeling, mountains and rainforests with great trekking and birdwatching, as well as a mixture of interesting local cultures. Fiji also hosts plenty of affordable beach resorts and golf courses.
Melanesian islands centrally located in the middle of the South Pacific, Fiji consists of an archipelago of 322 islands and many more islets, of which 106 are inhabited. Most of the people live on the two main islands of Fiji, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Fiji is one of the most popular tourism destinations as well as one of the main airline hubs in the South Pacific region, and a popular stopover place for travel between North America and Australia or New Zealand.
Sights and activities in Fiji: beaches, diving, trekking, rafting and exotic culture
Fiji has majestic coral reefs that attract visitors interested in diving in Fiji, and also snorkeling in Fiji is some of the best in the world. There are also plenty of white sand beaches perfect for relaxed beach holidays. The larger islands of Fiji have rugged volcanic interiors with rainforests, waterfalls, stunning landscapes and remote villages that are excellent for trekking in Fiji, some possibilities for rafting as well as archaeological sites and nature reserves. Fiji’s rich multinational culture offers plenty of things to awe from traditions and food to crafts and music, and its waters are excellent for sailing in Fiji. There are also many excellent golf courses in Fiji.
Viti Levu, the biggest island, is home to Fiji’s largest cities as well as both international airports. Situated in the sunny West coast of Viti Levu, Nadi is the hub of tourism in Fiji, with the international airport, beach resorts, fishing charters and boat and air connections to the nearby Mamanuca and Yasawa islands. Fiji’s second largest city, Lautoka is nearby, with its Garden of the Sleeping Giant and easy reach to the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park in the mountainous interior of the island. On the south side of Viti Levu, the Coral Coast area offers beaches, a popular zoo and archaeologically important Sigatoka sand dunes.
The multicultural capital city Suva on the Southeast has an excellent history museum and botanical gardens, as well as the best possibilities for affordable shopping in Fiji, some nightlife and the lush rainforests of Colo-i-Suva Forest Park nearby attract hikers and birdwatchers. The colonial town of Rakiraki on the North coast has a boat connection to the small paradise-like Nananu-i-Ra island with white-sand beaches and excellent possibilities for diving, snorkeling and windsurfing. The small Mamanuca islands on the Northwest coast of Viti Levu are renowned for their great beaches and surfing, sailing, snorkeling and diving possibilities, whereas the Yasawa Islands to the North have many beautiful natural and cultural sites as well as the best opportunities for kayaking in Fiji.
Vanua Levu, the second biggest island in Fiji, has a predominantly Indian culture and some excellent diving and birdwatching spots especially in the Southeast of the island. The third largest island, Taveuni is famous for its green nature, some of the best birdwatching in Fiji, as well as excellent diving in Fiji, as well as being one of the few places that is crossed with the international date line of 180 degrees Longitude. Bouma National Heritage Park in Taveuni is renowned for its ecotourism and trekking possibilities. The fourth largest island, Kadavu has famous dive sites, and Ovalau island has plenty of colonial history, including the old capital of Fiji. The remote island of Rotuma has a Polynesian culture, and the island groups of Lau, Moala and Lomaiviti all have beautiful beaches and coral reefs off the main tourist routes.
Fiji travel information and practical tips
Fiji has a warm tropical marine climate with little variation throughout the year. There is a cooler (but still warm) dry season from May to October, and a warmer rainy season from November to April, when there are also occasional tropical cyclones. Rainfall is greater on the windward side of the bigger islands, whereas the leeward sides have sunnier and drier climate.
Traveling to Fiji is done mainly by air. There are two international airports in Fiji, of which Nadi receives most of the flights to Fiji from abroad.
The capital city Suva also has an international airport, and there are many local airports and airstrips around the islands. You can also travel to Fiji by a cruise boat or a private yacht. Fiji has good domestic transport connections, making it an easy country to travel in. There are several local airlines offering flights to Fiji’s all main islands and tourist destinations, mainly from Nadi. The larger islands have good a bus network of local and express buses, also shared taxis are offered. There are frequent ferry connections between all major islands, as well as from Nadi to the smaller Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, and plenty of local boat connections between the smaller islands. Taxis and car rental in Fiji are also available in the main tourist areas.
Services There is a wide range of hotels in Fiji from luxurious private island resorts to small and cheap rural guesthouses, and restaurants in Fiji representing many styles and price ranges, with plenty of Indian and local Fijian dishes as well as fine dining and fast food. nightlife options are limited to the largest towns and resorts.
Mixed culture. The majority of Fijians are of Melanesian origin, but there is a significant number of people who have arrived to Fiji from India in the colonial times, as well as small amounts of people of Polynesian, Micronesian and European origin. All of these groups have influenced the culture in Fiji and also have their own unique traditions. English is an official language in Fiji and is spoken by most people in towns and tourist areas, whereas in more remote islands it is not always understood. Fiji has a highly traditional and religious society, and you should dress modestly and ask permission to enter remote villages or religious sites. Sharing is an important principle in Fijian culture. Keep this in mind and guard your belongings also in the rural areas, as otherwise they might be “borrowed”.
Safety. Fiji is free of poisonous land creatures and most tropical diseases, and is a relatively safe destination. Crime such as robbery and theft happen mainly in Suva and Nadi, and the political situation is unstable with ethnic tensions and military coups. Luckily, the main tourist areas in Fiji are situated far away from the political strife of Suva, where walking around at night is discouraged and any political gatherings should be avoided.
Short history of Fiji
Fiji was inhabited by the Melanesian and Polynesian peoples a long time before the first contact with Europeans in the 17th Century. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to visit Fiji in 1643. He was followed by British explorers, traders and missionaries, but large-scale European exploitation and settlement did not start until the 19th Century. Fiji became a British colony in 1874, starting an immigration of indentured labourers from India, who now represent nearly half of the population of Fiji. Smaller numbers of Europeans and Asians also immigrated to Fiji, contributing to its cultural mixture. Fiji became independent in 1970. Military coups in 1987 changed the country into a republic and the new 1990 constitution which reaffirmed native Melanesian control of Fiji caused widespread emigration within the Indian community and economic difficulties. The constitution was renewed in 1997, but military coups and political turmoil have continued in Fiji in the 2000s.