Decked with white sand beaches, aquamarine waters, and a lush volcanic landscape Fiji makes for a truly paradisiacal setting.
The far-flung archipelago, made up of more than 300 islands, has a rich culture with good food and a joie de vivre attitude at its heart. Here we reveal the best places to visit in this picture-perfect corner of the world.
1. The eclectic gateway city of Nadi
Best for multicultural Fiji
On landing into Fiji you’ll see Nadi from the air. This pint-sized city is located just a short drive from the international airport and is a great spot to kick off your Fijian adventure. A mix of stores in a rainbow of colors line the roads, with everything from electronics to handicrafts on offer.
The covered market is a real treat for the senses with an array of local produce on offer. Another must-visit spot in the city is the spectacular Sri Siva Subramaniya Hindu temple, which is located downtown at the southern end of the main road. This spectacular temple, the largest in the Pacific, features intricate carvings that could keep your eyes busy for days. This is a good place to start your holiday before making your way around Fiji.
Local tip: Before entering a Hindu temple, always seek permission and remove your shoes. Photography is generally OK outside the temple but don't go taking photos inside.
2. Palm-lined beaches on the Yasawa Islands
The most beautiful region
Yasawa means "heaven" in Fijian and this string of islands is certainly heavenly. The archipelago, located in the northwest, comprises around 20 islands of varying size with palm-lined beaches, aquamarine waters, and dramatic topography being the running theme. Despite their remote location, the majority of the islands are inhabited and many feature hotels. To get there, the Yasawa Flyer ferry departs daily from Port Denarau Marina close to the airport and stops at more than 12 of the islands. South Sea Cruises also runs ferry services and excursions in the area.
3. Book a stay at the five-star Nanuku Resort
Best place for luxury retreats
Elevate your Fiji trip by booking into the blissful confines of the five-star Nanuku Resort. This award-winning hotel on the southern edge of Fiji’s main island makes for a dreamy setting, with villas and apartments enveloped by lush foliage and a two-mile white sand beach fringing the property. The rooms feature an attractive blend of modern and Fijian-styled interiors with amenities including private plunge pools and cinema rooms. On the food front, the main restaurant serves up French cuisine with a Pacific twist but for a special occasion, book a dining experience on the shores of the hotel’s private island or its cliffside perch.
4. Unwind at The Palms in Denarau
Best place to stay for families
Located 20 minutes from the airport, the small island of Denarau makes a great setting for families with everything you need on the doorstep. The outcrop, connected to the mainland via a bridge, has been developed into a luxury tourism spot complete with a state-of-the-art marina, five-star resorts, top-notch restaurants, and an 18-hole golf course. It's an apartment hotel, fully equipped kitchens, dining rooms, and lounge areas. Other perks at the property include parking, a swimming pool, babysitting services, a cafe, a gym, and a tour desk offering a wide range of day and multi-day trips.
Planning tip: You can easily get around to island and visit other resorts as well as the Port of Denarau on the unmissable Bula Bus: it's the one with the thatched roof.
5. A classic island getaway in Kuata
Best island for perfect holiday shots
Let your cares wash away with a stay on Kuata. This far-flung island which is part of the Yasawa archipelago makes for a heavenly retreat with just one hotel (the Barefoot Kuata Island), secluded beaches, secret caves, and some great hiking trails. The Barefoot resort, which has another location several islands away, features a scattering of luxury safari-style tented rooms and beachfront bures (traditional wood-and-straw huts) or there are dormitories if you’re traveling on a budget. Facilities include an open-air restaurant, a bar, and a swimming pool complete with a hammock for some Instagrammable holiday shots. The island is one of the stops made by the Yasawa Flyer ferry.
Detour: Hire a guide and head up Kuata’s volcanic summit climb. It's a strenuous uphill walk but you're rewarded with dramatic views. The best times to go are before sunrise and sunset (and not only because it's cooler).
Read more: The best time to visit Fiji
6. Eat delectable Fijian cuisine at Tukuni
Best for local cuisine
Tuck into an array of mouth-watering dishes at Tukuni. This restaurant, which boasts a lofty setting overlooking a sweeping bay close to the city of Lautoka on the west coast of the main island, is a community-run operation, with local farmers and fishermen supplying the ingredients used. Cooking takes place over an open fire and some popular dishes include ika tavu (smoked fish) and kokoda (marinated fish in coconut milk). There’s also a great selection of vegetarian dishes that include rourou (taro leaves). The Fijian experience doesn’t just extend to the food and the restaurant has a cozy, authentic feel, with handcrafted solid wood furnishings and woven palm wall panels setting the scene.
Local tip: Fijian food offers a unique fusion of flavours with a Pacific take on cuisines from India and beyond. Staples such as sweet potato, cassava, and taro are cooked with fish, vegetables, and coconut; curries are generally milder and lighter here.
7. Test your limits at Awakening Shark Dive
Best for adrenaline seekers
Put your fears to one side and buckle up for an adrenaline-pumping experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The Awakening Shark Dive experience is offered by the Barefoot Resort on Kuata Island and it brings you face to face with bull sharks. Experienced divers will lead you out to a spot close to the island where the sharks congregate thanks to efforts to restore the surrounding corals. Kneel on the ocean floor and stay still while the sharks, which can be up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) in length, slink in for a feeding session. Other shark species known to patrol the area include tiger, nurse, lemon, and silver tips.
8. Climb jungle-strewn Mount Tomanivi
Best for epic views
Don your hiking shoes and be prepared to break a sweat for a challenging climb up to the summit of Mount Tomanivi. This jungle-strewn peak, on the main island, is the highest point in Fiji, measuring 1324 meters (4343 feet). The return trek takes around four hours but it’s well worth the effort with some epic views from the top of the surrounding emerald interior and the endless blue beyond. Adventure company Talanoa Treks runs trips to Mount Tomanivi with local guides, and if you fancy a little more exertion, the company runs a "two peak challenge" with Fiji’s second-highest peak, Mount Batilamu, added to the agenda.
9. Give back to the environment with Projects Abroad
Best for sustainable travel in Fiji
Help do your bit for the environment while in Fiji and sign up as a volunteer with Projects Abroad. This social enterprise, which has one location in Nadi and another close to the coast in Pacific Harbour, runs a range of volunteer projects which include shark conservation and beach clean-ups. One of the business’ other focuses is mangrove restoration in a bid to protect natural habitats and stop coastal erosion. Many volunteers offset the carbon footprint of their flight by planting mangrove seedlings in the nursery and to date, more than 15 acres of mangroves have been planted by Projects Abroad volunteers in Fiji since 2014.
Local tip: Fiji like other Pacific islands is already feeling the effects of climate change. The village of Vunidogoloa was the first to move because of floods and erosion: 32 families relocated to higher land two kilometres away.