Long before my first visit to Fiji, it had always been on my bucket list. Fiji, an archipelago in the South Pacific, is known for its turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, scuba diving, and friendly locals. What’s not to dream about?
With 330 islands to explore, Fiji lures travelers looking for adventure and relaxation. If you’re planning a trip to Fiji (or at least adding to your travel bucket list), there are probably a million things that you’re wondering: Which islands in Fiji should I visit? Can it fit my budget? Is it as hard to travel as I always thought? What are the people like?
Whatever you’re looking for, Fiji will surely answer the call. Family, solo, budget or luxe – here’s how to plan your Fiji escape.
How To Get There
Fiji always seemed so inaccessible, especially as for a girl from New York City. But don’t let its remote location deter a visit to the sandy white beaches and glimmering blue waters that welcome tourists throughout the year. With so many images of Black travelers galavanting across the globe, inaccessibility is a thing of the past. From the U.S., Fiji Airways operates two non-stop flights to Nadi International Airport, one from Los Angeles and the other from San Francisco, both clocking in at about 10 hours of flight time.
As the flagship carrier for the island nation, the company has been given a Diamond certification from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) for its Travel Ready Program. Diamond is the highest level certification that can be reached via APEX and means Fiji Airways provides hospital-grade safety measures.
Several other airlines also operate out of Nadi International Airport, but many may require a stopover in New Zealand or Australia, which isn’t preferable with such long haul travel. When searching for flights, use an online tool such as Google Flights or Skyscanner to look for flight options, to find the cheapest fare, and also discover dates that avoid a layover. Because Fiji Airways regularly offers sales and deals, consider planning a trip that includes both Fiji and New Zealand or Australia, as the destinations are only a few hours apart by plane.
Where To Stay
Fiji has two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, with hundreds of smaller islands in between. If you stay on the big island, you’re a quick drive from the resorts of the Coral Coast and the rural villages and world-class dive sites on the Suncoast. Or head off to a resort in the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands, accessible by ferry, which is approximately 45 minutes or by seaplane in only 15 minutes. Vanua Levu and Tavenui are both easily reached via scenic flights on Fiji Link, Fiji Airway’s domestic airline.
As a first-time traveler to Fiji, choosing the right place to stay may seem intimidating. While each island and resort offers gorgeous views and hospitable staff, there are differences that come down to personal preferences to consider.
For the budget-conscious traveler:
Tucked away in the lush Yasawa group of Islands off the coast of main Island of Viti Levu in the Yasawa group of islands, this secluded haven, located on one of the most unspoiled islands in Fiji, boasts 18 authentically thatched luxury bungalows hidden among luscious tropical foliage.
The all-inclusive resort boasts contemporary cuisine serving meals a day with choice of dining at the new al fresco main dining complex with 180-degree view of the ocean, beachside, at the horizon pool or in the privacy of your very own beach hut. For the ultimate in relaxation, the full service Baravi Spa, offers ocean view massages and is well known for its Baravi Rhythm, four handed synchronized massage where therapists perform this signature favorite in tandem with the waves of the ocean. Hot rock therapies use black volcanic pebbles to reflect the fiery rift that created the island.
For the big-spender:
A sanctuary for relaxation and discovery, Nanuku is a 550-acre estate on the southern coast of Fiji’s largest island of Viti Levu. The Fijian décor, expansive decks, private plunge pools and ocean views, make it feel like a secluded private world of its own. Not to mention, endless activities are available from relaxing by the water such as white water rafting, waterfall hikes, world-class sportfishing, surfing, and more.
Where To Play
There’s no doubt this region is stunning, but the best parts of Fiji are off the tourist trail. For nature lovers, some of the top things to do in Fiji include visiting a breathtaking waterfall, touring a pearl farm, and exploring a botanical garden.
How To Experience Culture
There’s one popular word that you’ll hear everywhere throughout the islands…bula!
If you want to see the local side of Fiji, you should absolutely visit a local village. The best way to plan is through your hotel, resort, or through a tour company, as they’ll know the locals and can provide a better experience. Staying a night or two at a village homestay will give you an authentic insight into ethnic Fijian culture as well as the chance to sample yaqona or kava, the national drink.
Be sure to bring a gift as a token of appreciation — usually, your guide will offer the village chief a ‘sevusevu’ (gift) that consists of a tangled bundle of kava roots.