Did you know that Fiji has over 300 islands? Unless you have booked an all-inclusive resort stay then this can make it difficult to decide where to stay and what to do, especially when you only have a week or two. It took me AGES to decide where to go and what to see when I recently visited Fiji, hopefully this post will make the decision a bit easier for you.
The main island of Fiji is Viti Levu. This is by far the most touristy area of Fiji, and is home to many resort areas such as Denerau. This is a great place to base yourself if you have limited time in Fiji, as you can easily travel around the main island (it is possible to circumnavigate the entire island by car in one day) and organise island hopping trips to the nearby Mamanucas and Yasawa islands.
Nadi (pronnouced NAN-DI) is the largest city in Fiji. It is also the home of Fiji’s largest international airport and as you will most likely fly in here, it makes sense to start of your journey from here aswell. When choosing accommodation, there is a strip of hostels located on a beach around 20 minutes from the airport. These can range from as little as $10 a night and are generally of a good standard. My favourite is Bamboo Hostel, which offers free airport pickups as well as a laid back friendly atmosphere and relatively cheap food and drink including free kava in the evenings. Smuggler’s cove and Aquarius are also good. There are also shops around here if you wish to purchase any food, which can be quite expensive – it is easy to spend more on dinner then on a nights accommodation. From here it is easy to explore Nadi Town.
You can do this by bus or join a tour from your hostel. This is a great place to buy souvenirs, enjoy a cheap meal and just to get a quick taste of urban life in Fiji. From Nadi, you can either head inland to explore the rest of the island, which can be easily done on a day trip, or leave for the islands around Fiji. Make sure you check out the Sigatoka sand dunes for some epic sandboarding and take a tour of Lomawai Village to learn about village life in FIji. Nadi is also the best place to check out Natadola Beach, which is arguably the best beach on the main island and holds the well deserved title of the 6th best beach in the entire world.
The Coral coast is known for its beautiful beaches and snorkelling. I spent a few days here and to be honest, was a but disappointed. It was nice and is home to some good resorts but if you are like me and need a bit more, I would only spend a day or two here at the most. Don’t get me wrong, the Coral Coast is beautiful, but compared to the rest of Fiji seems a bit lacking in comparison.
If you are interested in adventure, make sure to check out Pacific Harbour. This is a great place to base yourself if you are interested in diving as it is close to some great diving spots.
If diving is not your thing, take the Uprising Trek which can be organized from most resorts in the area. This is a trek through Fijian Jungle and plantations, taking you through some stunning scenery and ends waterfalls, where you can cool off after you trek. Make sure to wear good shoes and bring water and swimwear, as you will be clambering up rocks and sliding down waterfalls along the way. This is a great trek for the not-so-hardcore trekkers among us, and makes for an easy trek. The journey takes around 1 hour each way.
Accommodation wise, I stayed at Uprising Resort, which was great. Located on a beautiful beach and with super friendly staff. Highly recommended.
Suva is the capital city of Fiji and an interesting place to explore. It also gives an interesting insight into the era of colonial rule by the British, and it worthwhile to check out the various historical buildings like the Government House that have been left behind.
Don’t miss the markets, Fiji Museum and a the ridiculously cheap Village Six Cinemas. Accommodation here is a bit more expensive then Nadi but it is worthwhile taking a few days to explore. You can reach Suva by bus from Nadi for a few dollars or pay a bit more and take a tourist shuttle.
Northern Viti Levu
North of Suva, one of my favourite places was Nasautoka Village. Here you can organize a stay in the village for cheap which gives you a real insight into the lives of those still living in the Northern villages, which still hold strong to their traditions. You will be formally welcomed into the village by he chief and his family by a welcoming kava ceremony, this is a real experience and is very different to the kava “ceremonies” that you will see in hostels and resorts. The kava here is not from powder, but from the freshly ground root, as a result has a much nicer taste. It was such a special (if slightly nerve-wracking) experience to be welcomed in this way and was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
The women of the village also cook delicious Fijian style food which you must try. Everything is grown from scratch (except the ketchup, which Fijians seem to love) and is a very humbling experience. Here you can also try Billibilli rafting, where you ride homemade bamboo rafts down river while trying not to sink. It is more relaxing than it sounds.
The Sabeto Valley Hot Pools are great and not far from Nadi. Here you can bathe in volcanic mud and enjoy a relaxing soak in the thermally heated hot pools. This is located in a beautifully scenic valley in the middle of nowhere and is very relaxing indeed.
All these locations can be easily reached by local bus (cheapest) or shuttle, and if all else fails, you can easily find a taxi.
That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon with PART TWO where I will go through the various islands around Fiji and help you to decide where you should stay.