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
- The balcony views and the lobby’s suspended 7m outrigger canoe create a powerful first impression at the Coral Coast’s family-friendly Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. The bures (thatched bungalows) have hand-painted bark cloth ceilings.
- Coconut Grove Beachfront Cottages on Taveuni comprises three breezy cottages with a great restaurant, a golden-sand beach and tranquility by the truckload. Diving and sightseeing trips can be arranged.
- Stylish bungalows line the beach at Mai Dive Astrolabe Reef Resort on tiny Ono Island, just a few minutes’ boat ride from the Great Astrolabe Reef. It’s run by an Australian-Fijian family; food is excellent.