Fiji is a kids’ own adventure story writ large. The swimming is spectacular, the fish are friendly, there are caves and jungles to explore, and there are enough mangroves and mud pools to satisfy every get-grubby urge. And the Fijians – who famously adore children – have smiles and hugs for every little visitor.
Kids can run amok on the Coral Coast, exploring dunes, rivers, villages and a hill fort; good luck getting them to bed after a stimulating evening cultural show. Pacific Harbour has adventure sports, highland tours from nearby Navua and offshore island trips. Just north of Nadi, the mud pools, buggy tours and zipline are thrilling for all ages.
Safe swimming, awesome snorkelling and some of the most family-friendly resorts in the world, plus boat rides galore: what’s not to love?
Fiji’s wild islands offer jungle adventures, waterfall pools, village visits and raft rides. There are great resorts here, or you can rent your own rainforest bungalow. Jumping between days at Taveuni's International Dateline marker is a strangely thrilling buzz.
Snorkel with manta rays, watch the kids catch their first big fish and wonder how you'll ever tear them away from their new village pals.
The unofficial adage of Fiji seems to be: children should be seen, heard, smooched and squeezed at every given opportunity. Children are cherished here, and local littlies seem unfamiliar with the concept of shyness: your kids will be quickly absorbed into their games and welcomed into their homes.
Not all resorts accept children in Fiji. Many that do have kids clubs (usually for children from 3 or 4 to 12 years) and child-friendly pools. Nannies and babysitting for babies and toddlers is easily arranged from about $7 per hour, or overnight at a fixed rate.
Most eateries have kid-pleasing items such as hamburgers and pasta dishes on the menu, but it’s worth encouraging them to try local specialities like fish in coconut milk, root vegetable ‘chips’, roti wraps or a mild dhal. Ice cream – often homemade – is frequently available, and in addition to the usual favourites, often comes in exotic local flavours.
Some restaurants in cities, touristed regions and well-equipped resorts have high chairs, but they’re quite uncommon elsewhere. Travel high chairs make a good investment if you don’t want someone squirming on your (doubtless splattered) knee at mealtimes.
Supermarkets aren’t always that super when it comes to kids’ food: if you’ve got a fussy eater, pack a few backup tins or pouches of their favourite meals. Long-life milk is readily available, as is bottled water and fruit juice. If you’re not sure whether your formula brand is sold in Fiji, make room in the suitcase for a tin or two. While breastfeeding is common, you’ll seldom see it: you'll probably want to follow locals’ example and be discreet.
Babies and toddlers will be delirious with delight on most of Fiji’s beaches. The sands are soft, the waters warm, and there are plenty of fish, hermit crabs and shells to play with and goggle at. Older kids wishing to explore the colourful world beneath the tranquil seas can go snorkelling or take their first underwater breaths on a Bubblemaker course (from age eight); good swimmers aged 10 and up can enrol in a Junior Open Water Diver course – see www.padi.com for information. Most resorts offer kayaks and stand-up paddleboards free of charge; many have superfun sea trampolines. Banana boat and jet-boat rides offer squeals and hilarity by the bucketload.
Contrary to popular belief, Fiji is not just a neverending series of stunning beaches; its tropical interiors are adventures unto themselves, with waterfalls, tangled jungle, natural waterslides and muddy trails, not to mention the brilliantly bumpy 4WD trips that are a requirement to get almost anywhere inland. Children will have fun looking out for spectacular native birds (including brightly coloured parrots), while critter-keen kids can spy on sleeping fruit bats, native lizards and snakes (there are no venomous land snakes in Fiji). Village visits often end with declarations of love and ‘best friends forever!’ between visiting kids and their local counterparts. Whatever your beliefs, Sunday church services provide enough fascinating, goosebumpy moments to hold the interest of even the squirmiest scallywag.
Some hotels and resorts have no-children policies (especially under 12s); others let kids stay for free – always ask when booking. Some tours and activities are discounted for kids.
Nappies, wipes, formula, sterilising solution and baby food are available in pharmacies and supermarkets in the main cities and towns, but if you are travelling to remote areas or islands, take your own supplies. Top tip: pack nappies in 'space bags'; you'll never fit anything else in your suitcase otherwise!
Infant/child pain relievers and teething gels are hard to come by; bring your own. If your baby uses a dummy (pacifier), bring plenty, as well as a clip-on strap.
Check with your child's doctor about pre-trip shots, especially if you're going to be spending time in remote areas. Some GPs recommend Hep A and Typhoid jabs (the latter is unsuitable for kids under two years old).
All ages need sunscreen, sunhat, insect repellent, warmer clothes for evenings and rain gear.
For babies and toddlers, consider packing a folding stroller (though a baby carrier is a better option if you plan on hiking or staying at a resort with terraced or sandy paths), a portable changing mat (baby-changing facilities are almost nonexistent) and inflatable ‘floaties’.
For older kids you may want to pack binoculars, a snorkelling mask and field guides to Fijian flora and fauna.
Large-chain car-rental companies and some private drivers can provide baby seats (if arranged in advance), but local companies and taxis don’t. Local buses have bench seating, no seat belts and can be fairly cramped; babies and small children will be expected to sit on your lap.
Many small boats don’t carry enough life jackets and rarely have child-size ones; if you’re using these to island-hop, consider bringing your own.
Yasawa Group Plentiful corals, sea turtles and friendly (really!) sharks.
Mana Island Easy snorkelling from the beach; lots of colourful fish.
Caqalai Older kids who can get in the water over some reef will be awestruck by the amount of life here.
Kadavu, Nanuya Balavu and Drawaqa Snorkel with manta rays!
South Sea Island Check out sharks, starfish and other sea-dwellers in a semi-submersible.
Kula Eco Park Meet sea turtles, parrots and flying foxes.
Treasure Island Turtle- and iguana- feeding.
Mana Monthly ‘Environment Day’ with coral planting.
Kadavu Manta rays.
Takalana Bay Dolphin-spotting.
Navala village Be welcomed into the traditional lifestyle of one of Fiji’s most scenic villages.
Silana Ecolodge (Ovalau) If you don't mind roughing it, you'll have a ball with the huge, friendly family here.
Waya There are heaps of homestay options on this beautiful, rugged island in the Yasawas.
Viseisei village Fiji's first settlement is easily accessible from Nadi; there are loads of kids to play with.
Blue Lagoon Rightfully famous for its calm, sparkling waters.
Treasure Island Lightly sloping beaches, perfect for toddlers.
Kadavu The protected west side holds patches of perfect sandy-bottom lagoon.
Leleuvia Wade into shallow swimming straight from the beach.
Tavoro Waterfalls The first falls (there are three) have a superb natural pool.
Long Beach (Nacula) A sublime stretch, aptly named for its sandy length.
Octopus Resort (Waya) Wide stretch of wonderful beach with never-want-to-leave charm.
Resort islands around Ovalau All of the resorts on outlying islands of the Lomaiviti Group are encircled by low-key, kid-friendly white beaches.
Lavena Beach A stunning strip framed by forest; its neighbouring black-sand beach is cool, too.
Ziplining Near Pacific Harbour and Nadi.
Jet-boating Down the Sigatoka River.
Rafting White-water or low-key bilibili (bamboo raft) thrills on the Navua River or around the Namosi Highlands.
Trail-riding On the Coral Coast.
Buggy-riding Through the forests near Nadi.
Robinson Crusoe Island Everything from a ‘cannibal attack’ on arrival to hermit-crab racing and traditional performances at night.
Arts Village (Pacific Harbour) Disney-like take on a Fijian village with performances including mock battles and dance.
Denarau The child-friendly resorts here have regular cultural shows and entertainment.
Nananu-i-Ra Kiteboarding and windsurfing.
Natadola Beach Good for bodysurfing.
Natadola Inside Break Best bet for beginner surfers.
Navua River Inland villages, hiking and river activities.
Colo-i-Suva Forest Park Walking trails, swimming holes (one with a rope swing) and great birdlife.
Waitavala Water Slide Older kids love this natural slippery dip in the middle of the rainforest.
Lovoni Jungle village trek to an extinct crater.
Bouma National Heritage Park Seaside walks, steep treks and waterfall pools just begging to be splashed in.