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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Fiji.
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Fiji.
Fiji’s sea spray of more than 300 scattered islands means this South Pacific nation is more water than land – and diving, snorkeling and other outdoors adventures reign supreme.
North of Pacific Harbour on Viti Levu, these steamy highlands have compelling mountain scenery—dense rainforests, deep river canyons and tall waterfalls. Rivers Fiji offers excellent kayaking and white-water rafting trips into its wilds. For gorges and grade two/three rapids with entertaining local guides, try the five-hour trip along the Upper Navua River.
KAYAKING THE YASAWAS
Separated from each other by a deep, narrow channel, the volcanic islands of Kuata and Wayasewa are the first stop in the Yasawa chain coming from Nadi. Kayaking between the two is a great way to spend a calm-water afternoon; many local resorts offer free kayaks. For multi-day safari trips skirting the Yasawas, try Southern Sea Ventures. Tailor-made trips start at four days, and include stops for snorkelling and village visits.
SURFING CLOUDBREAK IN THE MAMANUCAS
Tubes of up to 250m can form on this colossal left-hand break in the Mamanuca chain, off Fiji’s western edge. Experienced board riders don wetsuits daily in an attempt to catch the perfect wave and professional surfers are regularly drawn to its magnetic blue waters. Although there is no scenic beach-break for picnicking spectators, non-surfing mortals who want to get close to the action can join the flotilla of small boats that makes the daily pilgrimage offshore.
The fringing soft coral reefs off Viti Levu’s Coral Coast are heaven for divers. The lagoon by the offshore island of Beqa (‘Be-nga’) is one of very few places in the world where you can dive with uncaged bull and tiger sharks. Beqa Adventure Divers is a sustainable operator that offsets its carbon footprint; two-tank shark-feeding dives cost £125.
The limestone island of Sawa-i-Lau in the northern Yasawas houses two gorgeous grottoes. Shafts of daylight enter a great dome-shaped cave where you can swim in a beautiful natural pool. With a guide, torch and courage, you can also swim through an underwater passage into an adjoining chamber, decorated with carvings of unknown meaning. Most Yasawa resorts run trips here.
The Great Astrolabe Reef hugs the southeast coast of Kadavu island for about 60 miles and is home to a vibrant assemblage of hard- and soft-coral formations. On the western side of the reef, Split Rock is the most coveted dive site, but others include Broken Stone and Vouwa, and all have similar characteristics: twisting canyons, tunnels, caverns and arches. Most Kadavu resorts run trips from around £160 for a two-tank dive.
SIGATOKA SAND DUNES
These impressive dunes skirt the shoreline near the mouth of Viti Levu’s Sigatoka River. Windblown and rugged, they are around three miles long, up to half a mile wide and on average about 20m high, rising to 60m at the western end. Walking trails lead to the coast across open rolling grassland; allow one or two hours for the self-guided walking tours.
Taveuni’s three-mile Lavena Coastal Walk follows the forest edge along white- and black-sand beaches. It passes peaceful villages before climbing up through a landscape straight out of Jurassic Park to a gushing waterfall, reached via a clamber over rocks and a swim through two deep pools. The walk is managed by Lavena Lodge and entrance is £10; you can also arrange take a boat one way and walk back.
Despite being just half an hour’s drive from Nadi airport, Koroyanitu National Heritage Park seems deep within Viti Levu’s interior. It’s very beautiful, with walks through forests of native dakua trees, birdwatching, ancient sites and waterfalls. There are six small and largely self-sufficient villages within. Most visitors get here through Abaca (‘Am-ba-tha’) village, but you’ll need a guide.
Cathay Pacific flies to Nadi International Airport on Viti Levu (Fiji’s main island) from London via Hong Kong. Other one-stop routings go via Los Angeles, Seoul or Singapore. Factor in 25 hours or more (including transfer time) to reach Fiji. From Nadi and Suva airports onViti Levu, Fiji Airways runs flights to outlying islands such as Taveuni and Kadavu. The Yasawas and Mamanucas are accessible by frequent ferries, including Awesome Adventures Fiji.
WHERE TO STAY
It’s only one flight, but a whole other world away. Fiji’s splendid isolation, white sand beaches and crystal clear waters make it the perfect place to escape and unwind. And with daily direct flights from LAX and new seasonal services from SFO, happiness is closer than you think!
Experience white sand beaches, crystal-clear ocean water, and some of the happiest people on earth at Fiji’s luxury resorts and accommodations.
Vacala Bay Resort
Rejuvenate your soul at Fiji’s first 5-Star Solar Powered Luxury Eco Resort, situated on Taveuni, the enchanted Garden Island of Fiji. Enjoy the breathtaking natural environment, modern amenities, and stunning ocean views, where you are the only guests. The resort’s catamaran sailing yacht and our friendly staff will ensure a holiday experience like no other.
A unique luxury haven for couples featuring Fiji’s only over-water bungalows. It is a special place designed with integrity to Fijian cultural values and is embraced by the renowned warmth of the Fijian people. Dine in style, unwind surrounded by azure lagoon waters, pamper in the spa. snorkel a vibrant reef, explore, or just unwind and soak up the beauty in this magical sanctuary. This is relaxed refinement at its finest.
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa
Indulge in heavenly seclusion in an area renowned for its velvety white sand beaches, vivid colored corals, unique ancient culture, and crystal clear tropical waters. At Yasawa there are no other resorts, no televisions, and no traffic; just the sounds of the palm trees swaying and the ocean lapping mere steps from your private villa. Whatever you choose to do at Yasawa, you’ll do it in complete seclusion.
Namale Resort & Spa
Tucked among the lush rainforest and lava cliffs overlooking the Koro Sea, this luxury all-inclusive boutique resort features 19 private villas and bures, each with their own unique layout and features, a 10.000-sq -ft. spa. and two on-site restaurants serving world-class Indo-Fijian cuisine. Focused on exclusivity and customized experiences, Namale is a top pick among celebrities, having hosted award-winning actors and designers.(800) 727- 3454
Royal Davui Island Resort
Royal Davui Island Resort, Fiji, is a boutique luxury island resort with 16 exquisitely appointed Vales nestled around 10 acres of lush tropical landscape. Every guest enjoys the best of both worlds—enough genuine care and warmth that the staff will know you by name, as well as the privacy and freedom to be secluded in your own tropical oasis. Adults only, private plunge pools in every villa, and easy access from Nadi airport make Royal Davui Island Resort special and unique.
Qamea Resort and Spa
Qamea Resort and Spa is an intimate boutique resort catering to a maximum of 34 adults, with only 17 luxuriously appointed and air conditioned bures and exquisite Royal Beach Houses with private pools and Jacuzzi spas, nestled among swaying coconut palms and verdant tropical gardens. An exclusive tropical destination for discerning travelers seeking an authentic Fijian island resort.
Bawah Private Island, Indonesia – A part of Indonesia’s largely unknown and untouched Anambas Archipelago, Bawah seems primed to become a bragging-rights destination when it opens in 2017. Thirteen empty beaches and epic dive sites are a quick ferry and a one-hour flight from Singapore, meaning you can wrap up business meetings in the morning and unwind in one of 24 tented safari-style villas for the weekend before flying back to the States. From $2,500 for two.
Four Seasons Maldives Private Island Voavah at Baa Atoll, Maldives – When this seven-bedroom retreat opens this month, it’s certain to be the most laze-around-and-be-spoiled experience in the Maldives. It has a dive center, a spa, and a 62-foot yacht that can take you to surf spots. Want to Napa-up the food? They’ll fly in Thomas Keller. Want a celeb to join you? They’ll bring one in. Seriously. From $38,000.
Kokomo Island, Fiji – The cultural appeal here goes way beyond the Fijian burre-inspired design of the 21 villas (all with their own pool), which will open in mid-2017 onto the South Pacific’s Great Astrolabe Reef, the fourth largest in the world and a phenomenal dive site. Guests can explore the island’s archaeological site, and if you’re lucky you’ll come across some kava (yes, that’s the alcoholic mud the locals drink). From $2,600.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles – Once they open next year, these three- and four-bed-room villas on Felicite in the Seychelles are where you’ll want to put up the family. While adults zen out in the spa’s rock pool and hammocks that swing over the sea, kids can play pirate in a two-story tree house and go on treasure hunts. And when you’re ready to bond, your butler can make a family swim with sea turtles happen, too. From $1,340.
Thanda Island, East Africa – About 18 miles off the Tanzanian coast, it’s a sanctuary with one five-suite villa— and the dugongs, whale sharks, and sea turtles that call the surrounding marine reserve home. Guests can balance indulgence (copper tub bubble baths on the beach) with conservation projects like turtle tagging. From $10,000.
If you feel like you’re on a movie set, you are: The undeveloped and relatively inaccessible Yasawas were used for both the 1949 and 1980 versions of The Blue Lagoon, two Hollywood films most memorable for their remarkable Pacific scenery. First charted by a U.S. exploring expedition in 1840, the Yasawas haven’t changed much in the intervening century and a half: You’ll still find many of the same small villages nestled beneath palm trees along some of the South Pacific’s loveliest beaches.
The Yasawa Island Lodge is everything you could hope for in the mythic South Pacific, commanding a romantically isolated spot on the northernmost island and boasting a stylish, informal blend of Western comfort and Fijian aesthetics.
Days are unstructured and uncomplicated except for a few pressing questions: the hotel’s white-sand beach or a five-minute walk to a number of deserted, spectacular alternatives dotting the 12-mile-long island? Grilled fresh lobster or fruit salad picked this morning? The exhilaration of light-tackle game fishing or dozing off to the music of rustling palms and lapping waves?
Those interested in seeing more of the islands can book aboard one of the four Blue Lagoon Cruises ships, which ply the islands’ waters on one-, four-, and seven-day cruises. Most of the line’s handsome Fijian crew call these volcanic islands home and are proud to share their knowledge of local customs and offer snorkeling tips. Sunset sailing leaves each day free for a visit to a different island and local village, for lunchtime barbecues, and for sunning on isolated beaches where the only tracks will be those left by you and the odd crab.
Blue Lagoon began its operation in the 1950s with a single WW II ship; 1996 saw the maiden voyage of its most luxurious vessel, the Mystique Princess, a 180-foot, 72-passenger ship that’s able to reach some of the area’s more remote islands.
Of Fiji’s more than 300 islands, very few are privately owned, but Canadian entrepreneur David Gilmour was so taken with the islands’ beauty that he acquired this 2,200-acre slice of paradise in the 1970s and built his dream home, which represents everything that’s special about Fiji.
The ruggedly forested, mountainous interior teems with wild horses, fallow deer, pigs, massive banyan trees, and soaring 600-foot cliffs, while thirty-two deserted shell- strewn beaches ring the perimeter. Gilmour’s good taste is obvious everywhere, especially in the nine ultra-spacious plantation-style cottages. Indigenous natural materials prevail throughout: thatched roofs, distinctive handwoven bamboo walls, and lustrous yaka wood floors.
At the open-air restaurant pavilion, whose cathedral ceiling soars more than 60 feet, muffled lali drums announce the superb meals, which are prepared by four resident chefs utilizing fresh-grilled seafood, local game, and organic vegetables planted from a backyard garden. Dinners are followed by nightly songfests performed by the warmhearted and ever-smiling Fijian staff, the very soul of this resort. You’ll feel like David Gilmour’s incredibly lucky personal guests – until you get your bill.
Vatulele is the movie-set result created when an award-winning Australian television producer teamed up with a Fiji-born hotel manager with top-drawer experience.
Other island resorts may have locations of similar natural beauty (reef-ringed azure-blue lagoons, powdery white beaches, swaying coconut palms), but where they strain to respect your privacy, here the house policy assumes you’ve come to this laid-back barefoot hideaway to relax and socialize, not necessarily in that order. Excellent dinners are enjoyed in the company of the resort’s other eighteen couples, champagne flows like lemonade, and if you haven’t met a dazzling gaggle of interesting, discerning Australian, American, and European types during your first couple of days, it’s probably because you’ve been hiding in your bure.
Attention to detail is the word of the day: Armloads of ephemeral frangipani blossoms decorate and scent the spacious, airy bungalows, while a Do Not Disturb sign (for those catnaps before cocktail hour) is fashioned out of a cowrie-shell necklace.
Fiji’s diving possibilities are legion, and Vatulele is known as a five-star hotel with five-star diving. But unlike most of the dive-oriented resorts in the Pacific, nondivers here can chose from an embarrassment of activities topside while waiting for their diving Other to come up for air.
A coconut plantation in the 19th century, Taveuni, Fiji’s lushest and third largest island, earns its nickname as the Garden Island, boasting the largest population of indigenous plants and animals in the South Pacific. The towering spine of peaks reaches 4,000 feet, some of the highest in Fiji, and its fertile volcanic soil supports and explains the thick tropical flora.
Flying north from Fiji’s more populated and developed island of Viti Levu is like flying back fifty years in time. A string of small, traditional villages along the western side is home to easygoing, friendly Fijians, who greet Western visitors (no longer a novelty) with a warm, heartfelt welcome.
But it’s the world-famous dive sites in the narrow Somosomo Straits separating Taveuni and Vanua Levu that have put this area of Fiji on the travel map, offering a riotous profusion of soft coral reefs and the endless varieties of fish they attract. Premier diving sites are the 20-mile-long Rainbow Reef and the Great White Wall – Taveuni’s Mount Everest of reefs – but local dive operators will take you farther afield to sites with no names that can be even more magnificent.
Taveuni Island Resort, a small hotel run by New Zealand couple Ric and Do Cammick, is the island’s top land operation. Their seven bluffside bures command a magnificent view of the straits, but nothing compared to what you’ll see down under. Every day, divers can gear up at one of the nearby dive operations for the dive of a lifetime. An afternoon return leaves time for a trip to the island’s 180th meridian – the international date line – where you can stand with one foot in today and one in tomorrow.
Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ll recognize Jean-Michel Cousteau as the son of world-famous explorer and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau; you may surmise – correctly – that his resort offers an experience exceptional for its environmental consciousness.
Settled in a 17-acre ocean- front coconut grove and resembling a traditional local village, the Cousteau resort is a progressive ecosensitive operation that, in addition to its undersea world, offers luxury, leisure, and languor thanks to a joint venture with California’s Post Ranch Inn. For divers and nondivers alike, the South Seas experience served up here will be significantly different from that of other resorts.
Staff naturalists lead hikes through tropical rain forests and to neighboring Fijian villages; or enjoy a massage followed by a candlelit dinner delivered straight to your private bungalow veranda.
Still, this is essentially a scuba-diver’s utopia. Jean-Michel designed the resort’s 37-foot, state-of-the-art dive boat L’Aventure, whose captains and marine biologists guarantee you the best dive experience possible in one of the most diverse and populous marine habitats on earth. Jean-Michel is around often – who knows, you may go down under with Cousteau fils himself.
A three-hour boat ride drops you off on the dragon-shaped island of Namenalala, whose name – loosely translated as Uninhabited Island – is accurate but for the ten guests of a small retreat on the edge of a jungle. The tribal owners of this natural reserve named Tom and Joan Moody as honorary wildlife wardens, allowing the American couple and their few guests to live their island fantasy here.
Namenalala has no television, no electricity, and a delicious do-whatever-you-like and when-you-like philosophy. The five unobtrusive treehouse bures are perched high on a wooded ridge to catch the ocean breeze and are unexpectedly luxurious, with romantic gaslights, his and her baths, canopied king-size beds, and wraparound decks with million-dollar views. But the mile-long island’s true luxury is the feeling of being shipwrecked and forgotten, with no newspapers and no phone, just lazy picnics on any of the six beaches (guests who want the beach to themselves can post an “occupied” sign at the foot of the path) and walks through lush forests whose silence is broken only by exotic bird calls.
Namenalala is home to a colony of red-footed booby birds, a giant variety of albatross, and orange-breasted honeyeaters, and is also the nesting ground for Hawkesbill and green turtles, who lay their eggs on the beaches between November and March.
Namena Barrier Reef creates an unbelievable walk-in aquarium, with more than 100 varieties of brilliantly colored coral and clouds of gemlike fish that make for excellent snorkeling and diving. Namenalala and its reef belong to Mother Nature; its human interlopers are just temporary guests.
This gorgeous, horseshoe-shaped, 240-acre island is all that remains of an ancient volcano that fell away into the sea, leaving behind one of the finest beaches in Fiji.
Palm-fringed, it wraps around the submerged crater, now filled with deep sapphire waters, beside which you’ll find the island’s only accommodations, the Matangi Island Resort. Built by the island’s owners to host just twenty-eight guests in fourteen circular Polynesian-influenced bures, this island retreat includes three Honeymoon Treehouses, each perched off the ground in enormous almond trees, offering complete privacy and romance, as well as superb views of the Tasman Straits.
Paradoxically, children are actually welcome at the Matangi – a rarity among South Pacific resorts.