Fiji Islands Destinations
Nadi & Denarau Destinations
How would you like to get off a long transoceanic flight (it’s 11 hours nonstop from Los Angeles to Fiji’s Nadi International Airport) and know that a comfortable bed in a world-class resort is just minutes away. That’s what’s so wonderful about Nadi (pronounced Nan-di) and nearby Denarau Island as a travel destination. Both accessible and scenic, this coastal enclave on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, is home to large internationally known beach and golf resorts with accommodations and facilities to satisfy almost every type of traveler.
Families are drawn to the Nadi/Denarau Island area by its convenience and infrastructure. Parents and can play a round of golf, shop for souvenirs in Nadi town, or enjoy a few relaxing hours in the spa while their children participate in a kids’ program. Everyone will be fascinated by Denarau’s black-sand beach and have fun in the lagoon-like pools or on a full-day cruise to offshore Tivua Island for snorkeling and glass-bottom boat tours.
Couples often spend a few nights on Denarau Island to relax before traveling on to more remote private-island properties, while others end their Fiji honeymoon or vacation here with adventurous rafting on the Upper Navua River or souvenir-hunting in Nadi’s crafts markets. The area is also home to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, which houses a stunning collection of orchids. Fiji has a sizeable Indian population, as well (brought here by the British in the 19th-century to work on sugar cane plantations), and in Nadi you can visit the elaborate Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple.
The resorts in Nadi & Denarau Island keep Fijian traditions alive by inviting guests to participate in Fijian dance performances and kava ceremonies. Known as yaqona in Fijian, kava is the root of a pepper plant that is pounded and mixed with water to make a drink said to aid relaxation. Served communal style from a coconut shell, with loud claps from the grass-skirted Fijian chief signaling it’s okay to drink, kava is earthy, bitter and numbs the lips and tongue. It’s a taste of Fiji you will never forget.
Coral Coast & Pacific Harbor Destinations
If you prefer to stay on the main island of Viti Levu, but want the activity and resort options offered by a 45-mile, palm-tree-dotted playground, the Coral Coast is the Fiji vacation destination for you. After a scenic two-to-three-hour drive from Nadi International Airport on the Queen’s Road, you’ll settle in at Coral Coast accommodations ranging from affordable beach retreats to full-service luxury resorts. The nearby resort area of Pacific Harbor is also home to several beachfront properties. And while its white-sand beaches are not as postcard-perfect as those in the Mamanuca, Northern and Outer Island groups, the reef-lined Coral Coast packs in enough land-and-sea activities, local villages and handicrafts markets to make your Fijian vacation more than memorable.
If it’s adventure and sightseeing you’re after, the Coral Coast & Pacific Harbor have something new for you to try every day. You can head upriver into the jungle-lined Sigatoka River on an exhilarating speedboat safari, climb the swirling hills of the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, or get to know Fiji’s indigenous flora and fauna in the Kula Eco Park. You can tee off on several world-class golf courses, zipline through tropical rainforest in the Wainadoi Mountains, or challenge churning whitewater on a rafting expedition on the Upper Navua River.
The Coral Coast gets its name from the spectacular reef that lies just offshore, so water activities are numerous, too. Expert surfers can head 12 miles off the coast to ride the pipeline break at Frigate’s Passage, while scuba fans can dive the world-famous Beqa Lagoon, known for its vivid soft coral and large number of sharks (bull sharks, lemon sharks, tiger sharks and silvertips), and fisherman can go in search of trophy catches such as wahoo, marlin and yellowfin tuna. Of course, you can always enjoy more subdued water sports like snorkeling and sea kayaking – or you can chill out by the pool or on the beach, because even Fiji’s most action-packed region specializes in relaxation, too. Especially after dark, when local Fijians share their favorite drink, kava, in must-try traditional ceremony at your resort.
Mamanuca Islands Destinations
Fiji may have the name recognition, but it’s the Mamanuca Islands that have the visual impact. This group of 20 volcanic islands is home to some of Fiji’s most escape-worthy resorts for both couples and families, featuring beachfront and hilltop bungalow-style bure (plus Fiji’s only overwater bungalows) designed to showcase the region’s fine white sand and sapphire blue sea. Surprisingly, the Mamanucas are relatively close to Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu and the international airport in Nadi, with high-speed catamarans providing easy access. Even day cruises are available from the marina on Denarau Island, making exploring these beautiful islands possible even without an overnight stay.
But stay you should, since the Mamanucas offer visitors the best of both worlds: laid-back beachfront fun plus an array of land and water activities. Dive into a sea of choices, including snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, surfing, parasailing, stand-up paddle boarding, dolphin watching, windsurfing, sunset sails and more. Dry off and go beach combing and island trekking or head to a local village for a cultural tour or to shop for seashells collected by local women. And when it’s time to dine, the surrounding waters serve up a bounty of fresh seafood. The region’s spas are equally adept at satisfying your appetite for relaxation, incorporating natural Fijian ingredients such as coconut, aloe and papaya to soothe, invigorate or de-stress. And whether you’re a beginner or expert, the diving in the Mamanucas always impresses, with world-famous sites such as The Big W (with its 200-foot drop-offs), Circus (known for its abundance of clownfish, aka “Nemo”), and Supermarket (where shark feeding is the order of the day).
And as in all regions of Fiji, your Mamanuca Islands welcome will be warm and genuine because this island group pioneered tourism in Fiji. Many resort employees live in local island villages and have worked there for several generations. With each effusive “Bula!” you will fall hard for Fiji’s authenticity, made all the more memorable by the Mamanuca’s arresting visual beauty.
Northern Fiji Destinations
Northern Fiji destinations are among the islands’ most physically diverse. Not only do the Northern Fiji islands include Fiji’s second and third largest – Vanua Levu and Taveuni – but they are also home to some of Fiji’s most exclusive private-island resorts, set on pristine deserted beaches and washed by crystal-clear seas streaked with shimmering shades of blue. And underwater? Well, the coral gardens in Northern Fiji are legendary and so impressed marine expert Jacques Cousteau that his son, Jean-Michel Cousteau, developed a dive resort here.
Access to the islands and resorts of Northern Fiji is via interisland flights from Nadi to Savusavu on Vanua Levu and Taveuni, with boat and seaplane transfers to follow. Once you arrive at your resort, Fiji’s all-inclusive ease is guaranteed to kick in immediately as you let any remaining real world worries slip away with a welcome cocktail and dinner with a view of the expansive star-lit South Pacific sky. While fresh seafood is always an option, Northern Fiji’s finest resorts typically cater to all diets, with exquisitely prepared meals that incorporate lamb and beef from nearby Australia and New Zealand as well as delicacies from Europe.
Many of Northern Fiji’s private-island resorts feature traditional Fijian bungalows called bure – almost all romance ready with soaring thatched roofs, polished wood floors and romantic net-draped king-sized beds, but some featuring more contemporary décor. Outside, a cozy hammock for two and even a private plunge pool await, as do an array of beaches for sunning and swimming. Other diversions include couples massages in spas suspended above the sea, visits to local villages for handicrafts shopping (Fijian tapa cloth is a great souvenir) and traditional kava-drinking rituals, and invigorating hikes to hidden waterfalls. But the most mesmerizing memento you’ll take home from Northern Fiji is a peek into its kaleidoscopic underwater world of brilliant soft coral swirling with neon-hued fish – and more than a few sharks and rays, because Fiji’s seas are all-inclusive, too.