Fiji has an earned reputation as an island paradise. Sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and private island resorts are found throughout the 333-island archipelago.
But if you'd like to dive in a bit deeper than your resort pool, we've done the hard work for you and rounded up the most incredible things to do in Fiji.
A trip to Fiji is a DIY adventure that involves nature and immersion into Fijian culture. No matter whether you spend your days snorkeling over rainbow reefs, searching for waterfalls on lush trails, sipping kava with new friends or lounging on a sandy beach, you’re bound to have a good time on these islands.
1. Visit a village and experience life the Fijian way
Anyone who has ever pulled ashore to a Fijian island resort can testify to being greeted warmly and with welcoming songs, but to really get familiar with this beautiful place, head to a homestay or visit a village. Homestays provide an unmatchable, authentic insight into the real Fiji – you’ll be living with a Fijian family, like a Fijian family.
Village visits offer a shorter – but equally enthralling – experience. On the main island of Viti Levu, the strikingly scenic Navala offers guests an immersive stay in a traditional village, while offshore, homestays on Waya Island welcome visitors keen on seeing the Yasawas from a local perspective.
While you’re more likely to catch a meke (lively performance enacting ancient lore) at a resort than a village, there’s a good chance you’ll be treated to a slow-cooked lovo (pit oven) feast. Expect loaded plates of succulent meat and fish, plenty of local root vegetables (cassava, taro, yams) and palusami (tinned beef or vegetables, onion and coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves).
2. Cheer your heart out at a rugby game
Look at Fiji’s seven-dollar banknote, issued in honor of Fiji’s national rugby sevens team, and you’ll see just how dedicated the country is to the sport. Rain or shine, any patch of grass is turned into a rugby pitch come sunset and weekends. Check out a game of footy frenzy at Suva’s National Stadium or join spirited supporters on the sidelines at an all-in village match.
3. Attend a church service
On Sundays, you’re guaranteed goosebumps – whatever your beliefs – as congregations harmonize to the heavens. Wander around any Indigenous Fijian village or neighborhood to witness churchgoers dressed in their Sunday best.
Bold, colorful patterns are the norm for many, accenting the bright gardens typically planted around each house of worship. Most churches welcome outsiders, though services are not always given in English. Those taking place at Taveuni’s Wairiki Catholic Mission are particularly divine.
4. Join in exciting festivals for the senses
Beyond the resort walls, this island nation is alive with thriving traditions, fabulous festivals and Fiji-style fun. Winter is the season when locals tend to let loose at festivals: learn more about Fijian culture at the week-long Bula Festival, and witness astonishing mind-over-matter devotion at the South Indian Fire-Walking Festival. As temperatures begin to rise in October, Hindus and Christians across the country light up to celebrate Diwali.
Planning tip: If your vacation doesn't line up with the South Indian festival, fire-walking also takes place on Beqa Island all year long.
5. Shop for fresh produce at the market
Year-round, you can sample the flavors of Fiji at the country’s open-air markets. From the biggest – Suva’s busy Municipal Market – to small, mats-on-the-ground affairs in tucked-away villages, markets are Fiji’s heart and soul, offering locals not just a place to shop, but also to banter and connect.
When browsing these ubiquitous markets, you’ll notice produce placed in a neat pile and priced to sell together. If you attempt to buy a single tomato, the vendor might hand it over free of charge. Bulk buying is a quirk of Fiji’s culture of sharing, as fruits and vegetables are taken home and swapped among neighbors. Gorge on papayas, pineapples, mangoes, passionfruit, coconuts, lime juice, watermelon and more.
Planning tip: Keep a look out for stands selling chilled pineapples cut into a swirl on its stem like a popsicle. It’s the ultimate refreshing treat on a hot and humid day.
6. Snorkel and scuba dive in an underwater wonderland
One of the country’s top offshore draws is the chance to swim and snorkel near huge manta rays, especially in the channel between the Yasawa group’s Nanuya Balavu and Drawaqa islands, and further south at Kadavu’s aptly named Manta Reef. In the Yasawas, Mantaray Island and Barefoot Manta resorts offer ethical "look, don’t touch" manta ray encounters; in Kadavu, head out with the crew from Matava Resort or Kokomo Private Island Resort.
Prefer seeing Fiji’s toothier creatures? From their base at Pacific Harbour, Beqa Adventure Divers run undersea adventures sure to get even the most daring diver’s flippers quivering: encounters with huge bull and tiger sharks at Shark Reef Marine Reserve.
Deemed the soft coral capital of the world in the diving community, blow bubbles along walls of white or purple corals in the Somosomo Strait. Coral reefs resembling cabbage patches, technicolor quilts and shag carpets made from anemones also await you.
7. Peer into the treetops for Fiji’s winged residents
The ‘Garden Island’ of Taveuni is famous throughout the birdwatching world. Sheltering upwards of 100 bird species, Fiji’s third-largest island boasts prime twitching spots including the 1195m-high (3920ft) Des Voeux Peak, a habitat of the rare, elusive orange dove and the tiny, endangered silktail; the Vidawa Rainforest Trail, with guided birdwatching walks; and the dreamy Lavena coast, where hatchlings can be seen teetering in the treetops.
The rugged remote island of Kadavu also offers a birdwatcher’s bounty; its rainforests harbor a kaleidoscope of tropical birds, including four found nowhere else in the world.
Bats are Fiji’s only native mammal, and the islands host six species. After sunset, you can usually spot them bolting out of caves or rustling in the treetops. Fruit bats often bite into a papaya as soon as it’s ripe and ready for harvest, much to the tree owner’s chagrin.
8. Cruise to untamed islands by boat
Picture this: you’re bubbling calmly beneath gentle turquoise waves, enveloped in silence and engrossed in the antics of a cheeky clownfish. Suddenly, you feel a swish of movement behind you: is it a shark? A giant ray? Alas, it’s a squadron of snorkelers splashing frantically to fit into an undersea selfie. If this scenario rings any bells for you, a live-aboard in Fiji could be just the ticket.
An alluring adventure for intrepid divers – though some cater to snorkelers and even those just getting their sea legs – live-aboards offer the chance to visit uncluttered sites far beyond anywhere land-based operators may go; some live-aboards also drop anchor at otherwise unreachable islands. Most itineraries run for five, seven or ten days, with all meals and accommodation included in the price.
Lautoka-based Nai’a offers trips exploring Lomaiviti, Bligh Water and Namena Marine Park. Captain Cook Cruises’ MV Reef Endeavour ventures to the major island groups, with rare visits to the remote islands of Lau.
Otherwise, chartering your own yacht and cruising wherever you please, whenever you please is also in reach. There are multiple private boat charters of the sailing and motor variety ranging from nearly piratical to luxurious.
9. Indulge in a spa treatment
Let the aftermath of a long-haul flight or a day spent in the heat behind you with a traditional bobo massage. A spa experience in Fiji begins with the sweet smell of coconut oil infused with plumeria petals.
Using a combination of kneading with the thumbs, hands and elbows, stress is released from the body through massage. A signature experience at most spas is a four-hand massage, where two massage therapists offer treatment at the same time – almost all spas have two-table rooms, making it one of the best things to do in Fiji for couples.
Convinced? Some of the best spas around Fiji include Yasawa Island Resort, where you can hear waves crash as you relax in an open-air room overlooking the beach, Outrigger Fiji for hilltop ocean views, Koro Sun Resort & Rainforest Spa for banana leaf wraps, and Pure Fiji in Suva for an escape from urban living.
10. Test your spice threshold with Fiji’s curries
With almost 40% of Fiji’s population being of Indian heritage, you’ll find an array of Indian restaurants throughout Viti Levu and Vanua Levu with a South Pacific flair. Piping hot parcels of roti stuffed with pumpkin or eggplant and coconut curry are often sold on roadsides.
In Suva, order as many dishes as you can muster at restaurants like Swagat, Ashiyana and Maya Dhaba. If you find yourself on an outer island, don’t fear. Many resorts and hotels serve some form of curry you won’t find outside of Fiji.
11. Hike along untamed trails
Though beaches often receive the brunt of tourist attention, it’s worth packing a pair of hiking shoes to see Fiji’s wild side. Islands like Taveuni, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu are famed for their mountain treks and waterfalls, while treks across islands in the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands offer an insight into village life.
You’ll rarely encounter a crowd on the trails – you might be thankful if you do. Trails are often unmarked, have little cell phone reception and can merge with livestock paths. Getting a local hiking guide to lead the way and share insight into the landscape and culture will ensure a wonderful experience.
12. Drink kava, Fiji’s beverage of choice
From formal events to parties among friends, kava is Fiji’s drink of choice. Kava (yagona) is made from pepper root ground into a fine powder and mixed with water. It’s typically scooped from a large wooden bowl (tanoa) and served in a coconut shell cup (bilo).
The drink is a little bitter, resembles muddy water and has a sedative effect that kicks in once the lips start to tingle. The connection that takes place around a tanoa is known as talanoa, an integral part of decision making and communication in Fiji.
Each Fijian community has its own etiquette and customs when it comes to drinking kava, and travelers are quickly forgiven for not hitting each cue. When in doubt, you can follow the common kava drinking customs of Fiji’s capital city. When a cup is handed to you, clap before taking it with both hands. Drink the liquid in one go if you can, hand it back with both hands, clap again and say “Bula!”
Feeling overwhelmed? Ask for low tide and your cup will be served half full next time it comes around. Most accommodations and homestay experiences offer kava ceremonies to guests, though you can also try it at a café like Mana Coffee in Suva or make it yourself from one of the official (or not-so-official) kava shops around the islands.
13. Catch a wave
One of the world’s premier surf destinations with near-perfect barrels at Restaurants and Cloudbreak, a trip to Fiji is a surfer’s dream. Waves range from gentle beginner-friendly beach breaks to guillotine tubes over coral reef.
If you’re not sure where to start, surf tour companies like Surf Tours based near Viti Levu’s Momi Bay choose waves for guests based on ocean conditions and surfers’ abilities. Ocean-obsessed travelers can stay with fellow surfers at resorts like Matanivusi Beach Eco Resort or Tavarua Island Resort where waves are easily accessible.
- Avoid visiting Fijian villages on Sundays unless specifically invited – these days are for church and family.
- Be sure to bring a sevusevu (gift) to offer to the head of the village on arrival. Kava root (available at almost every market in Fiji) is the most common sevusevu.
- Dress conservatively and be sure your shoulders are covered (all genders). Ideally, a sulu (wrapped cloth or skirt) should be worn.
- Remove your shoes before entering a bure (traditional thatched cabin), and stoop as you go through the door. Sit cross-legged on the mat, and keep your head bent lower than your host’s.