Fiji is surely every beach bum’s vision of nirvana. Palm-fringed beaches, fish-packed reefs and smiling locals: pack your swimsuit and sunscreen, these sunny isles are so warm they sizzle.
Throwing Down the (Beach) Towel
Fiji has been in the tourism business for decades, drawing vacationers like pilgrims to a holy land with its promise of white-sand beaches, cloudless skies and the opportunity to fall into a sun-induced coma under a palm tree.
The perennial favourites are the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, which arc north like a stingray’s tail from the body of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. These are Fiji’s movie stars, dangled in front of the world as idyllic South Sea Edens, their reefs and cobalt-blue waters providing cinematic eye candy for films such as Tom Hanks’ Cast Away and Brooke Shields’ vehicle to stardom The Blue Lagoon. It is therefore little wonder that, despite a coup in 2006, Fiji’s beaches remain flushed with sunburnt tourists.
Wetter is Better
Fiji’s underwater scenery is spectacular and some of the finest, and most accessible dives in the Pacific can be found here. Its reputation as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ is well justified and its countless reefs, drop-offs, walls and channels will have even experienced divers and snorkellers ‘ohhhing’ and ‘ahhing’ into their mouthpieces.
Fiji is also a great surfing destination and now that its surf breaks are open to all, the legendary waves of Cloudbreak, Swimming Pools and Frigates are free to be enjoyed by anyone experienced and brave enough to take them on.
Beyond the Beach
But the beaches – as lovely as they are – are only part of what Fiji has to offer. To get to grips with the national psyche you have to spend some time on the mainland. Two-thirds of the population live in urban centres and it is on Viti Levu that you’ll find the country’s two cities: Suva, the capital, and Lautoka, a port town reliant on the sugar-cane farms that surround it. Suva’s nightlife and large student population give it a youthful if unexpected vibe.
Those who take their time will discover that there are ample opportunities to stretch the legs and climb a mountain, visit an orchid garden, raft down a river, soak in a hot spring or visit a village. Two islands begging for exploration are Taveuni – known as the Garden Island because of its abundant tropical growth and beautifully weathered mountains – and further south, Kadavu. Life here revolves around the church, the village, the rugby field and the garden. Explorers in these parts are rewarded with meeting some of the warmest and most hospitable people in the Pacific.
Best places to stay in Fiji
Fiji travel guide
Bula! Alabaster beaches, clear waters, shy smiles and swaying palms – this tiny nation may be a mere speck on the map, but it packs a powerful punch.
Fiji for first-timers: how to choose an island
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Honeymoon and luxury resorts in Fiji
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Sponsored article: this content was specially produced by Lonely Planet for Rivers Fiji eco-friendly adventures. Many visitors to Fiji skip past the 'mainland' of Viti Levu to smaller islands. But savvy travellers are now venturing beyond the coastal tourist hot spots to discover Fiji's inland attractions...
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Fijian Islands and Snorkel Full-Day Whales Tale Cruise including Beach BBQ Lunch
Snorkel the Fijian coral reefs, swim in the blue water or simply relax and enjoy the natural beauty on this Fijian full-day cruise. Your cruise includes continental champagne breakfast, beach BBQ lunch and all beverages including beer and champagne, so come aboard, and let yourself be pampered for a day.This is the ultimate cruise to the Fijian islands.
Fiji Mamanuca Islands Sailing Cruise including Lunch
Hop aboard this magnificent two-mast schooner and sail through Fiji's Mamanuca Islands for the day. Explore uninhabited islands, swim in crystal-clear blue lagoons and visit a local village for a Kava ceremony. Enjoy morning and afternoon tea and a delicious barbecue lunch with drinks included. It all makes for a fantastic day in paradise.
Fiji: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Fiji guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip. If there is one country that lends itself to whiling away the hours with a good book, it is Fiji. Consider packing something that offers a little local insight as well as the latest bestseller...
South Pacific - Fiji (Chapter)
With alabaster beaches, cloudless skies and kaleidoscopic reefs, Fiji is the embodiment of the South Pacific dream. It's arguably the easiest place in the region to travel and boasts a friendly population, two robust cultures and accommodation...