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Fiji Travel Guide - Introduction to the Islands
In this Article by South Pacific travel expert Ian Osborn:
Fiji Travel Guide
— Five Things to Know about Fiji — Fiji Islands Travel Details
Fiji is a compact collection of small islands roughly a three hour flight north of New Zealand and east of Australia. Fiji has a population of almost one million people making it the most populated of the South Pacific islands and it receives over 600,000 tourists annually, by far the most visitor arrivals of all South Pacific destinations and almost as many as all its neighbours tourist arrivals collectively. Despite these high tourist numbers and because there are so many beautiful small islands to visit with plenty of secluded accommodation to choose from, the stunning picture postcard beaches promoted in the holiday brochures are never crowded.
If you're planning on visiting the Fiji Islands we have created a quick Fiji travel guide to help you decide which island will suit you best. With over 300 islands to choose from and around 100 beach resorts on thirty different islands, the task is not a straight-forward one:
Things to Do in Fiji Islands
- Cruise the Mamanucas & Yasawas
- Hike a Rain-forest Trail
- Explore a Traditional Village
- Drink Kava with the Locals
- Dive or Snorkel with Sharks & Turtles
Most Popular Places to Stay
Fiji Travel Guide
The international airport is located at Nadi on the sunny west coast of the main island (Viti Levu). Nadi is a small market town thriving on tourism and a great base for exploring the offshore islands – Fiji's most popular tourist destination. The Mamanuca Islands is popular with both families, couples and single travellers looking for some fun, whilst backpackers head a little further north to the beaches of the Yasawa Islands, also destination of overnight luxury cruises and several small luxury resorts. Both have a great selection of beach resorts for all budgets and accessible by fast passenger ferry, seaplane or helicopter.
On the mainland, for those into sightseeing or simply not wishing to travel by plane of boat, the Coral Coast is just a 1- 2-hr journey by road from Nadi. This coast has great sightseeing, several beautiful golf courses and some excellent adventure tours. Suva, the capital, sits on the wet and humid east coast and is visited mostly by business travellers.
South of Viti Levu is Kadavu and Beqa, both high, rugged islands with few roads. Its extensive walking tracks connecting the many traditional villages along its coastlines make both an excellent choice for those looking to explore by foot. Beqa is famous for its shark dives and other pelagic, as well as having several world class surfing breaks along the massive lagoon. Kadavu is home to the famous Astrolabe Reef with its stunning soft corals and drift dives as well as large population of rays which always delight snorkellers.
The main island of the Lomaiviti Group is Ovalau, home to the charming seaside town of Levuka which provides a unique historical twist to the South Seas visit. Offshore are a handful of small islands, some tiny coral islands like those of the popular Mamanuca Group and provide a similar stunning holiday environment around the sea but without the commercialism.
Savusavu on Vanua Levu offers great sailing adventures, game fishing and exploring tranquil bays by sea kayak. Vanua Levu is Fiji's second largest island so its also a great place to hire a car and explore.
Adjacent to Vanua Levu is Taveuni, the garden island of Fiji. This is one of the most popular outer islands to visit on holiday and apart from its famous scuba diving around the Rainbow Reef, it hosts a dozen or so upmarket boutique beach resorts popular for honeymoons or to elope and be married on a deserted beach. Taveuni also has a massive National Park with walking trails along the coast and into its mountains.
Five Things for Tourists to Know about the Fiji Islands
1) Fiji is the coup capital of the South Pacific with four coups in the last 25 years - the country has a history of nepotism, corruption and red tape, with a bound judiciary and gagged media. But you're on holiday so don't worry, be happy, as the locals say. And happy they are, regarded by many as the friendliest resort staff in the world.
2) Fiji is a traditional society with many taboo subjects and ceremonies to observe - do not turn up at a village dressed for the beach as this is a great insult to the people. And no top-less sunbathing please.
3) If in Fiji on a Sunday try and visit a local church to hear the incredible singing and maybe attend the village feast afterwards.
4) You'll be greeted with the word "Bula" throughout your stay and along with "Fiji Baby" (slang for the local beer) these are the three most common words you'll encounter.
5) Make sure you have a bowl of grog, officially known as yaqona or kava - it may just be with the resort boys as they wind down their evening, or in a traditional ceremony when visiting a village - it is Fiji's national drink, mildly narcotic and tastes awful!
6) And if you are looking for great places to stay, check out our favourite Fiji Beach Resorts
Fiji Islands Travel Details
Fiji is an easy destination to travel around. The main island of Viti Levu has a decent network of local buses around the towns and there are almost hourly buses running between Nadi and Suva, a journey of around 5hrs. Taxis are extremely cheap and readily available for hire from Nadi Airport - the majority of hotels have taxi stands.
Click a region to visit in the Map of Fiji Islands below to view our interactive pictures of the islands along with hotel locations and reviews - it's a fun way to plan your holiday ...
Both the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands are best reached by fast passenger ferry - there are four daily departures to the Mamanuca Islands (travel time from 1hr to 2hrs) and a daily departure to the Yasawa Islands (travel time from 2hrs to 4hrs), all from Port Denarau in Nadi. If you are travelling outside these schedules, or looking for more flexibility, water taxis to the Mamanucas are available 24-hrs from either Port Denarau or Vuda Marina. The alternative is to take a charter helicopter from Nadi Airport or several other resort locations around Viti Levu, or by sea-plane from Nadi Bay.
If you're exploring the outer islands, you'll need to catch a domestic flight with Pacific Sun. There are several daily flights from Nadi Airport to Savusavu and Labasa on Vanua Levu, to Taveuni, to Levuka or to Kadavu. If visiting Beqa, you'll need to catch a resort boat from Pacific Harbour. If you have time, there are local passenger ferries
/ cargo boats departing Suva and visiting Kadavu, Savusavu and Taveuni but these are all 12+ hour trips and without a regular or reliable schedule. You can catch a daily passenger ferry from Natovi Landing (1hr north of Suva) over to Ovalau with a connecting bus into Levuka Town. Once on any of the outer islands, local travel is a bit more tricky. There are buses on Taveuni and Vanua Levu, but not on Kadavu where travel is mostly by boat.
English is spoken fluently at all resorts although in the villages is mostly broken. The weather is warm and balmy with year round temperatures seldom falling below 24 degrees Celsius. December to April are very humid being the wetter summer months. June to October are cooler and the most popular months to visit.
The country is free from malaria, yellow fever and most other diseases endemic in tropical countries. Mosquitoes are present and can be annoying during the wetter months (Dec to April). Water is considered safe to drink.
Electricity is 240 AC voltage (same plugs as Australia / NZ). Banks and ATMs can be found in all towns. The currency is the Fijian Dollar (F$) and credit cards are accepted at most tourist establishments though a 4% surcharge is not uncommon.
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wailoaloa beach at nadi
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