Most who visit Fiji want little more than a white-sand beach, a cloudless sky and the opportunity to fall into a sun-induced coma under a palm tree. On this score, Fiji doesn't disappoint. The Mamanuca and Yasawa islands arc north like a stingray's tail from the body of Viti Levu and 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.
Fiji has been in the tourism business for decades and the Nadi and Denarau island-hopping-escape itinerary has proven to be a winning formula. Those that arrive with notions of cocktails on alabaster beaches are seldom disappointed. The 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 with the opening of the country's first overwater bungalow resort on Malolo, Fiji remains flushed with sunburnt tourists despite the 2006 coup.
Northwest of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu, is the Yasawa Group, a chain of volcanic islands set to rival the better-known Mamanucas in the popularity stakes. A daily catamaran threads its way from one bay to the next, dropping off and picking up travellers as it goes. The Yasawas are sparsely populated and the rainless dry spells that once made life so difficult for villagers is proving to be their greatest asset now. Local communities, inspired by the successes achieved further down the line, have opened budget 'resorts' and tout their coral gardens and laid-back charm as 'the real Fiji'.
To get to grips with the national psyche you have to spend time on either of the two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. 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.
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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.
Best birding in highlands and islands
Prepare for some close encounters of the bird kind with our field guide to finding (feathered) friends in far-flung places. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Greater Bird-of-paradise, Indonesia Greater Bird-of-paradise by Andrea Lawardi. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
Honeymoon and luxury resorts in Fiji
Family-friendly resorts and islands in Fiji
South Pacific travel guide
The South Pacific isn't just a homogenous spread of palm trees and warm ocean - escape your resort and you'll find cultures and experiences as rich as coconut cream.
If you've only come to Fiji for the islands and beaches then you best join the people on package tours and avoid Suva (pronounced soo-va) altogether.
How to choose a South Pacific island
The South Pacific confounds even the savviest map buffs with its splatter of dots spread across the world's biggest ocean. What you can't tell from a map, or even most tourist brochures is that these palm-laden pinpricks are as diverse as the region is vast.
Fiji's resorts and islands
Fiji - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Fiji starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus indepth info on choosing which island is best for you.
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 for first-timers: how to choose an island
Fiji is blessed with so much turquoise water, white sand beaches, jungle rivers and authentic culture that it almost seems unfair. Whether you're looking for a decadent resort, family getaway or backpacker adventure, these islands have it all. Wherever you go, expect the warmest welcomes the world has to offer.
Fiji - Kadavu, Lau & Moala Groups (Chapter)
Remote and authentic yet easily accessible, Kadavu blends Fiji’s best assets. The Lau and Moala Groups, meanwhile, are for those who have the time and endurance to seek out pristine paradises: think turquoise waters, barely-touched jungle and traditional villages worthy of a BBC documentary.