Fiji, an archipelago in the South Pacific, is a destination that conjures up images of pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters. But there is so much more to these islands than just lazing around on the beach. From lush forests and hiking tracks to wildlife encounters and cultural sites, there is plenty to keep an adventurous traveller busy. I hope that this guide to the best things to do in Fiji will inspire your own adventures in this beautiful part of the world.
The Best Time To Go To Fiji
Fiji boasts steady warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine all year around thanks to its tropical climate. May to October is considered the best time to go to Fiji as this is the dry season. The wet season runs between November and April.
Fiji gets especially busy during the school holidays in Australia in New Zealand. As a result, you will find June to September and December and January are the most expensive times to go to Fiji. You may find better offers on accommodation outside of the high season.
Getting To and Around Fiji
Most travellers to Fiji arrive in Nadi International airport, located on the west coast of Viti Levu, the largest island of the archipelago. This airport has connections to Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the US. There is a secondary international airport in Suva, the capital city of Fiji, but only a limited number of international flights land there.
Getting around Viti Levu is pretty straight forward. The island has a bus network which is the most budget option. For more comfort, you can upgrade to airconditioned mini buses or even taxis. Hiring a car or a motorbike will give you the most flexibility though.
If you’re heading to other islands from Nadi, you can take a domestic flight or ferry, depending on where you’re heading.
The Best Things To Do In Fiji
Island Hopping in the Yasawas
Fiji consists of about 300 islands, with only 100 of those being inhabited. It is impossible to visit them all on one trip, so I would recommend concentrating your efforts on a specific island group. My personal favourite is the Yasawa group. It comprises 20 volcanic islands and is located in the north west of the country.
Island hopping in the Yasawas is one of the most popular things to do in Fiji, so they are by no means an off-the-beaten path destination. However, they are totally worth it. Despite the enduring popularity, the levels of development in the area are not as high as in many other in demand tourist areas around the world. So no matter which island you choose to visit, a slice of tropical paradise awaits you. Incredible scenery, plenty of hiking trails, vibrant wildlife as well as cultural sites can all be found in the Yasawas.
The Yasawa Islands offer a variety of accommodation, from affordable hostels to exclusive resorts. There are a couple of party islands popular with young travellers, but its’ easy to avoid them if that’s not your scene. The archipelago is accessible by a fast catamaran from Nadi and hopping from island to island is pretty easy too.
A quick note on prices. There are many backpacker resorts that offer relatively cheap basic accommodation. However, you also need to include the cost of boat transfers, compulsory meal plans and activities in your budget. With these additional costs, even the supposedly budget-friendly Yasawas might not seem that cheap after all. I would also suggest packing your own water bottle and alcohol as prices on these can be inflated on the islands.
Swim with Manta Rays
Getting up close and personal with manta rays is probably one of the most unforgettable things to do in Fiji. You can witness these majestic creatures in their natural environment between May and October. This is when they pass through the channel between Nanuya Balavu and Drawaqa Islands in the Yasawas to feed on plankton. Swimming with manta rays is a truly special experience. Just be mindful that they are wild so might not always appear on cue.
See the Sawa-i-Lau Caves
If you’re visiting the Yasawas, the ancient Sawa-i-Lau Caves that are only accessible by boat are a definite must-do. The scenic limestone caves have been carved by constant cave action and are steeped in legend. The caves are believed to be the resting place of the ancient Fijian god Ulutini. That’s why before entering the cave your guide will perform a traditional ceremony to obtain the deity’s blessing. There, you can enjoy swimming in a crystal-clear natural pool and exploring underwater limestone formations. With the help of your guide, you can also swim through an underwater tunnel to access the second cave.
Enjoy World Class Scuba Diving
Fiji offers fantastic diving opportunities all year round and there are options for all ages and levels of experience. The underwater wonders of the archipelago include jaw-dropping colourful soft corals, abundant marine life and, in some locations, several species of shark. The best diving spots include Blight Waters in Viti Levu (the main island in Fiji), Taveuni Island and Namena Marine Reserve. If you’d like to experience a shark encounter, then head to Beqa Lagoon on Beqa Island.
Visit a Local Village
Experience Fijian traditions and customs by visiting a local village. There are many traditional villages scattered across the country, so it is a popular thing to do while in Fiji. It is possible to visit them independently, but make sure you first research local etiquette and good times to visit. For example, turning up unannounced on Sunday morning when the locals go to church is probably not a good idea.
The easiest way to visit a village is to join a guided tour. Most resorts are able to arrange them. However, be mindful that some villages that often host tourists have become quite commercialised. There are tours that visit more remote villages that will feel less touristy. if you’re staying in Nadi, check out this day trip that includes a visit to the beautiful Natadola Beach, followed by a visit to a traditional village.
Take Part in a Kava Ceremony
Kava is Fiji’s national drink. Traditionally drunk from coconut shells, it is made of crushed roots of the yaqona strained with water. Kava may look like muddy water, but it has calming, narcotic properties. The kava ceremony is an essential part of a village visit. There you will learn the etiquette and the cultural significance of the drink. You can also experience it in many resorts. You can take some kava powder home with you, but check your country’s rules on importing kava first. Some places, like the UK, have banned it.
Taste Local Cuisine
One of my personal favourite aspects of travel is trying local food. Fiji has some delicious dishes that are a must try for a foodie traveller. The traditional Fijian feast that is prepared for special occasions is called lovo. It is a cooking method where food is prepared underground in a homemade oven. It is used to cook meat, fish and vegetables. The process makes them tender and flavoursome. You can often experience lovo on village tours. Also, some resorts have traditional Fijian nights where a lovo feast is served.
Being an island nation, Fiji’s seafood game is strong. One of the most popular seafood dishes is kokoda. It is raw fish marinated in citrus juices for a few hours. It is then mixed with coconut milk, tomatoes, chillies and onions. Kokoda is a common starter.
The Indo-Fijian community made their mark on local cuisine too. That’s why you can find an abundance of curries and Indian-inspired dishes all over the country.
The South Pacific paradise attracts surfers from all over the world and for good reason. Experienced surfers can enjoy plenty of challenging waves, while newbies can learn the basics in one of Fiji’s many surf schools. Although it’s possible to enjoy this activity all year round, the peak season is during the Southern Hemisphere winter from March to November. The waves are more consistent then. However, the popular surfing locations can get quite busy then.
One of the most well-known surfing spots in Fiji is Tavarua Island in the stunning Mamanuca Islands group. That’s where you can find the legendary Cloudbreak, one of the world’s best waves, as well as an array of other surf spots. Cloudbreak is challenging and unpredictable, so it is best to leave it to more experienced surfers. The beautiful Natadola Bay resort near Nadi is a fantastic option for beginners.
Experience Fiji’s Capital, Suva
The largest city in the South Pacific, Suva is the commercial, political and cultural hub of the region. There you can explore lively food and handicraft markets, admire colonial architecture and immerse yourself in the nation’s history at the Fiji Museum. Natural wonders are never too far away either. Just a 15-minute drive away from the city centre, you can find the Colo-i-Suva Forest Park, a perfect spot for birdwatching and hiking. Suva is located on Viti Levu’s south-eastern coast. Travellers can get there by car or bus from Nadi. Flights are also available. You can learn more about the capital on this half-day guided tour.
Explore the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park
Sigatoka Sand Dunes is Fiji’s first national park where you can discover unique geological features along with endemic plant and bird species. Located on the main island in Viti Levu, just 3km west of the town of Sigatoka, this 650-hectare park comprises a series of greyish-brown sand dunes of different ages and sizes. The unique ecosystem of the area is the result of hinterland erosion and traditional coastal dune development. The park is also an important archeological site. Excavations in the area have uncovered ancient artifacts and a burial site which is believed to be the largest in the Pacific. The park is featured on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.
Visit the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple
The temple is located in the southern end of the city of Nadi where most international travellers arrive. The Sri Siva Subramaniya temple is the largest Hindu temple in the Pacific. It is the city’s iconic cultural attraction and if you are staying in the area for a day or two, I’d say it’s worth a visit. The vividly-coloured temple featuring ornate carvings, statues of deities and elaborate murals was designed by specialist craftsmen brought in from India. A substantial portion of the country’s population is made up of Indo-Fijians who are mostly descendants from 19th century labourers brought in by the British to work on sugar cane plantations.
Get off the Beaten Track in Nausori Highlands
Nestled in the heart of Viti Levu, the Nausori Highlands is another scenic spot perfect for a day trip from Nadi. It is the land of rolling hills, towering peaks, river valleys and rainforests. You can also get a taste of authentic Fijian life by visiting the remote traditional villages scattered around the area. The Nausori Highlands offer plenty of hiking trails, scenic viewpoints and beautiful waterfalls. You can visit the area on a small-group tour. If you prefer to have more freedom and flexibility, hiring a 4WD car that can withstand rugged roads is a great option.
Take a Trip Back in Time in Levuka, Fiji’s First Capital
This one is for the history buff. Located on Ovalau Island, away from the popular tourist trails, Levuka Historical Port Town was the first colonial capital of Fiji. It is currently the country’s only UNESCO World Heritage site. Its development started in the 1820s by European settlers and traders. It quickly became a hub for commercial activity with port facilities, warehouses, stores as well as religious and social institutions. Levuka is home to Fiji’s first hotel, post office, public school, bank, private members club and newspaper, the Fiji Times, which is still in circulation today. Levuka remained the capital until 1877 when administration moved to Suva. Visiting this town that seemingly froze in time is an opportunity to get an authentic glimpse into Fiji’s past. You can get to Ovalau Island by plane or or by boat, with daily services from Suva.
Visit Bouma National Heritage Park
Another must-see location for nature lovers is the serene Bouma National Heritage Park. It is located on Taveuni Island, the third-largest in Fiji. The park is famous for its lush rainforests and spectacular waterfalls with natural swimming pools. It is the perfect place to enjoy hiking, exploring remote beaches, bird watching and kayaking. You can also join a tour with a local guide to learn about the local flora and fauna and the traditional way of life of the people who call this island home. The easiest way to get to Taveuni Island is by air. Daily services are available from the Nadi airport.
These guides are a great help for planning your dream Fiji getaway.
Is Fiji on your bucket list? Which activity would I like to experience there? Let me know in the comment section.
Enjoyed this guide to the best things to do in Fiji? Bookmark or pin it for later.