Fiji is a bucket list destination for most, what with postcard-worthy scenes of crystal blue waters and white sand beaches at every turn. Whether you go for romance or culture, adventure or for a family trip, Fiji has got more than enough for every kind of trip with abundant snorkel and diving opportunities, fantastic food, and beautiful local arts.
But let’s start with how to get there. The new Fiji Airways (formerly "Air Pacific") is looking to make these 333 idyllic islands more accessible than ever. Even before you get there, they bring bits of Fiji to you with traditional patterns on uniforms and authentic recipes for onboard dining. They also just recently announced even more flight frequency, with direct flights from LAX to Nadi six times a week and increasing to seven times a week in December.
So now you have no excuse to skip Fiji. Here’s what to do once you get there…
For Romance: Royal Davui Island
With 333 islands to choose from, there are ample hideaways fit for a secluded experience with the one you love. And that must have been the idea behind Royal Davui Island Resort, a private, adults-only island retreat off the southwestern coast of Viti Levu. Each of Royal Davui’s 16 vales or villas (vale is Fijian for "home") feature thatched roofs, beds facing floor-to-ceiling glass doors overlooking the South Pacific, a sunbathing deck, and an infinity-edge private plunge pool.
If you happen to make it out of the vale, a must-do off-site adventure is a romantic picnic on the Sand Quay, a tidal islet just a short boat ride from the island. Resort boats transport guests to this remote getaway, which is reserved for one couple at a time. A sunshade is provided, as well as picnic mats and a hearty lunch spread.
How to Get There: Royal Davui is accessible via a 25-minute flight from Nadi International Airport followed by a 30-minute launch ride across the lagoon. The resort will arrange all transfers. Another option is via helicopter from Nadi directly onto the island with either Island Hoppers or Helitours.
For Culture: Sigatoka and Pacific Harbour
Today’s Fiji is a highly multicultural society with native Fijians making up 57% of the population, and Indo-Fijians which make up 37%. This dynamic mix is reflected in everything from cuisine to religion, but in rural Fiji, traditional village life is still common. For a look at the island nations’ past life, head to the Arts Village in Pacific Harbour, a complex that features shopping, a re-created ancient Fijian village and beach bunkhouse for budget travelers. The highlight of Arts Village is undoubtedly the cultural show where performers re-enact Fijian legends, perform traditional Fijian Meke dances and battle scenes, sing and firewalk before an entranced crowd.
If you’d rather not have to leave your resort for a cultural experience, stay at Outrigger on the Lagoon in Sigatoka, where Kava ceremonies (a traditional mild narcotic drink), choral, dance, and fire walking performances occur weekly. The staff at Outrigger can also coordinate a trip to a local village for a traditional church service, or a Sigatoka River safari where guests will learn about the history of the Sigatoka Valley and enjoy a village tour and lunch.
How to Get There: Outrigger on the Lagoon is 48 miles, a one-hour drive, from Nadi International Airport. Transportation is available from Nadi via private car, taxi, or motor coach for a fee.
For Adventure: Savusavu
The "Soft Coral Capital of the World" is home to a network of brilliant coral reefs, around 1,000 species of fish, several hundred types of coral and sponges, Manta Ray’s, and turtles. For the real adrenaline junkie, shark diving (without a cage!) is also extremely popular, allowing you to come face to face with Grey Reef sharks, Silvertips, Hammerheads, and White Tips. Feed them if you dare.
To completely immerse yourself in diving culture, book a room at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, where the diving facilities were created by the son of ocean explorer royalty Jacques Cousteau. L’Adventure Jean-Michel Cousteau is a complete dive operation that offers PADI certification courses, equipment rentals and sales, dive packages, and guided trips to Fiji’s breathtaking dive sites just 10-15 minutes from the resort or to the world-renowned Namena dive site, 45 minutes away. If snorkeling is your preference, the resort provides the opportunity for couples to rent a private island for the day and escape to their own secluded paradise complete with gear and a gourmet picnic lunch.
How to Get There: Pacific Sun and Island Hoppers airlines have daily, 1-hour inter-island flights between Nadi and Savusavu. A stay at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort includes complimentary round-trip transfers between Savusavu Airport and the resort.
For Families: Denarau Island
Family life is an important aspect of Fijian culture and it’s reflected in many activities and resort options throughout the islands. Sheraton Denarau Villas are ideal for families looking for multi-room accommodations in a five star setting. All villas include a lounge and dining area, fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, and private balconies or patios overlooking the lush gardens or ocean. Children under 12 are part of the Kids Stay, Play and Dine program where they stay for free, have free access to the Lai Lai Kids Club, and receive a lunch and dinner discount. While kids will love lagoon pool at the Sheraton Denarau Villas, parents will love having access to Sheraton Fiji Resort, The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, and Denarau Golf & Racquet Club. As Fiji’s only integrated resort complex, this translates to a choice of 17 restaurants and bars, 6 swimming pools and miles of coastline.
A fun cultural activity for the whole family is a trip to the new Flavours of Fiji Cooking School. Opened in May, Flavours of Fiji offers a fun and interactive half-day cooking class where guests prepare an 8-course menu of Fijian and Indo-Fijian specialties using local ingredients.
How to Get There: Denarau Island is a 20-minute drive from Nadi International Airport and accessible via taxi or private car.
Photo credits: Royal Davui Island courtesy of Royal Davui Island; Sigatoka and Pacific Harbour courtesy of FijiMarinas.com; Savusavu courtesy of Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort; Sheraton Fiji Resort courtesy of Sheraton Fiji Resort; Fiji islands courtesy of Tourism Fiji