Sun-drenched beaches, turquoise lagoons, swaying palm trees – Fiji supplies all the classic images of paradise. No wonder, then, that every year thousands of travellers come to this South Pacific archipelago for the ultimate island escape. With over three hundred islands to choose from, Fiji is a versatile destination. Read this guide and discover the best things to do in Fiji.
1. Visit the Navala Village
Fiji’s most picturesque village, set deep in the highlands of Viti Levu and home to over two hundred traditional handcrafted bures. The hinterland south of Ba town provides a scenic, mountainous route between Nadi and North Viti Levu. The most interesting feature on this road is the remote village of Navala, home to almost two hundred traditionally thatched bures, and an iconic symbol of Fiji.
To visit the village, introduce yourself to the first person you come across on the roadside – they will take you to the village headman where you pay the village entry fee, which represents a sevusevu and goes towards upkeep of the housing. Strolling around is a delightful experience; the chiefly bures have elaborately designed rooftops and are set in a neat line facing the village green.
The village is surrounded by grass-covered mountains, full of secret caves where townsfolk once retreated in times of war.
2. Relaxing at Savusavu - one of the best things to do in Fiji
Sipping an ice-cold beer overlooking this stunning bay at sunset is hard to beat.
Savusavu, Vanua Levu’s main tourist centre, is a small one-street town squeezed between rolling hills and a silvery bay. Although it’s not really a beach destination, it’s a popular anchorage for visiting yachts and there’s good scuba diving in the nearby Namena Lagoon.
With several excellent restaurants and bars along the waterfront, peaceful walks in the Savusavu Hills, fabulous snorkelling at Lesiaceva Point and game fishing around the bay, the town makes for a pleasant short stay.
- Best for paradise experience: Savasi Island Resort is a boutique island resort located just 10 minutes from Savusavu airport on Vanua Levu. This secluded paradise is set on a private 52 acre island, with pristine coral reefs, abundant with sea life waiting to be explored, giant Banyan trees to inspire, private beaches to call your own, panoramic views to gaze upon, and awesome walking paths through coral ravines.
Where to stay in Savusavu:
- Best for the views: Naveria Heights Lodge. Offering an outdoor pool and sun terrace, Naveria Heights Lodge is set in Savusavu. Guests can enjoy stunning panoramic ocean views.
3. Immerse yourself into Fiji-Indian culture
Fiji’s Hindu temples come alive throughout the year with vibrant festivals, the most spectacular being at Nadi’s colourful Sri Siva Subrahmanya Swami Temple.
The Thaipusam Festival at Nadi’s Sri Siva Subrahmaniya Swami Temple calls together thousands of Hindu worshippers to celebrate the birthday of Subrahmaniya, or Lord Murugan, the god of war worshipped among South Indians. During the ten-day festival held over the full moon between January and February, devotees arrive at the temple to pray and cleanse their spirits.
Some prove their faith with multiple body piercings on the chest, arms, face and tongue while others drag chariots, or kavadris, attached by sharpened meat hooks pierced into their backs. It’s a fascinating and absorbing festival with trance-like parades around the temple buildings led by hypnotic musicians.
Be sure to observe common courtesies such as removing shoes before entering the temple grounds and not attending if you have recently drunk alcohol.
4. Go Snorkelling
With vibrant coral reefs found off almost every beach, Fiji is a fantastic place to slip on a pair of fins and dive in.
Fiji offers superb scuba diving and snorkelling, with exceptionally colourful and easily accessible reefs as well as plenty of diverse fish species including sharks. Diving is excellent year-round, with visibility usually at least 30m – the very best months are October and November, after the trade winds have subsided and before the tropical wet season begins.
For scuba divers, the soft corals for which Fiji is renowned are most prolific in the nutrient-rich channels between the larger islands: the Great Astrolabe Reef, which twists its way around Kadavu; Beqa Lagoon, off southern Viti Levu; the isolated Bligh Waters between northern Viti Levu and Vanua Levu; and the Rainbow Reef, between Vanua Levu and Taveuni.
5. Enjoy island-hopping in the Mamanucas and Yasawa islands
Sample relaxed backpacker resorts or treat yourself to a luxury cruise - visiting these islands is one of the best things to do in Fiji.
Extending in an arc off the coast of Viti Levu, the Mamanucas and Yasawa Islands are a chain of beautiful palm-fringed islands with perfect white sandy beaches, placid lagoons and picturesque resorts. This is Fiji’s tourism gem, attracting thousands of visitors, especially from Australia and New Zealand.
Most visitors spend their days sunbathing, snorkelling or scuba diving, with sightseeing limited to hiking between small villages or trekking to a hilltop to see the sunset. Evenings are spent around the resort bar and restaurant which, apart from at a couple of backpacker resorts, tend to wind down around 10 pm. This is no Bali or Ibiza, though there are plenty of opportunities to try yaqona (kava).
Take a sightseeing sailing cruise through the beautiful Manamuca Islands region. Enjoy all meals and alcohol included as you relax on board. Spend 3 hours on an exclusive island paradise and take part in numerous fun activities including snorkelling.
Discover more places for your breezy holidays in our list of the best resorts in Fiji.
- Best for water activities: Oarsman's Bay Lodge. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant and bar. All rooms include a seating area to relax in after a busy day and all feature views of the sea. The rooms have a private bathroom. You will find a shared lounge at the property. A range of activities are offered in the area, such as snorkelling, diving and fishing trips.
Where to stay in the Mamanucas and Yasawa islands:
- Best for secluded stays: Matamanoa Island Resort. Matamanoa Island offers a secluded adults-only retreat in the stunning Mamanuca Islands. You can relax in the infinity-edge pool or enjoy the sunset views with a cocktail at the bar. Guests enjoy free continental breakfast.
6. Take a river rafting trip
Put river rafting on your list of things to do in Fiji. Head deep into the mystical Namosi Highlands on a whitewater rafting trip.
River rafting is a fun way of exploring the remote regions of Viti Levu, with the Grade III rapids of the upper Navua River on the south coast of Viti Levu the only place with established operators.
Longboats line the riverbanks between the market and bridge, before journeying up the murky Navua River to the highland villages. Guided longboat and whitewater rafting trips head off from here through stunning scenery towards Wainimakatu.
This remote region fronts the massive Sovi Basin, an amphitheatre of lowland rainforest surrounded by mountain ridges with an abundance of endemic birdlife – this is Fiji’s largest and most important protected nature reserve.
7. Attend Fijian meke dance night
The classic Fijian night out – traditional dancing accompanied by a feast of roast pig cooked in an underground oven.
One aspect of Fijian culture that retains its relevance today is the meke, a performing art of dance and song. Legends and tales have been passed down the generations through meke and it remains Fiji’s most prominent form of artistic expression.
Traditionally, music was created only by chanting and rhythmic clapping, often with the addition of a lali (hollowed wood) drum hit with bamboo sticks. More recently the guitar and ukelele have been introduced. Mekes are generally performed by male-only or female-only groups, although a modern introduction, the vakamalolo, combines the two.
In village mekes, the practice of fakawela involves presenting the dancers with a gift in appreciation of their performance, often fine cloth or fabric. At weddings or other celebrations bringing two parties together, this usually involves encircling the dancers with long rolls of cloth. At other times, perfumes are sprayed onto the dancers and money tucked into their clothing as they perform.
8. Go sea-kayaking
What can be better things to in Fiji then paddling your way around the islands, stopping at fishing villages and camping under the stars.
Every resort seems to have sea-kayaks for guest use, usually as a complimentary activity; note that it’s always wise to wear a life jacket and inform somebody of your intended journey in case you get caught in a dangerous current or a squally storm suddenly descends.
Two companies: South Sea Ventures and Tamarillo Tropical Expeditions offer week-long kayaking expeditions between May and October, snorkelling in the lagoons and camping on beaches or overnighting in remote fishing villages.
Another good option is the half-day trip along the Lavena Coastline within the Bouma National Heritage Park on Taveuni.
9. Visit Levuka
Fiji’s most beguiling town, a colonial museum piece full of stories and colourful locals.
Once a wild whaling outpost, diminutive Levuka is now a charming seaside town with some two thousand residents. Its laidback atmosphere is epitomized by its untidy, weathered yet colourful clapboard buildings, most of which now function as Indian-run stores, so packed full of goods it’s difficult to poke around without bumping into someone.
Local residents meet for a gossip along Levuka’s main thoroughfare, misleadingly named Beach Street, which runs between the rocky seawall and the town’s most historic buildings.
10. Head to the Fiji Museum in Suva
Killing stones, cannibal forks and the half-eaten shoe of the unfortunate Rev Thomas Baker are a few of the more gruesome exhibits at Fiji’s best museum.
Suva’s most rewarding attraction, the neatly laid-out Fiji Museum, is set within Thurston Gardens, Suva’s spacious and elegant botanical gardens. If you have even a slight interest in Fiji’s history or want to see some wicked war clubs and cannibal forks, or the largest surviving piece of the HMS Bounty, then it’s worth the trip to Suva.
- Best for historical charm: Grand Pacific Hotel. Affectionately known as 'The Grand Old Lady' of Suva, the faithfully restored Grand Pacific Hotel was built in 1914. It boasts free WiFi, 5 restaurants, 3 bars, a day spa and a fitness centre. All accommodation is air-conditioned and features a furnished patio or balcony.
Where to stay in Suva:
- Best for location: Quest Suva is located in the heart of Suva city, a 5-minute walk from the harbour. This 4-star accommodation offers a fitness centre and free on-site parking.
11. Hiking the Waya Island - one of the best things to do in Fiji for stunning views
Circumnavigate beautiful Waya Island and hike to the summit for stunning views.
Dramatic Waya has a strange, contorted appearance, with knife-edge ridges, monumental rock protrusions, several unbelievably photogenic beaches and some fantastic hiking trails. From its western coast, a giant’s face seems to peer out from the island, slanting back as though floating in the sea.
Waya’s northwest coast is home to the Octopus Resort in pretty Likuliku Bay, from where walking trails head into the undulating hills and, with a guide, you can explore much of the interior. There’s also a great coastal walk from here that you can do unguided. From the north end of Likuliku Beach, walk around the rocky ledge of Bekua Point to secluded Nova Beach.
At low tide, you can rock-hop around Nacilau Point for a sweeping view of the north coast of Waya Island. Just before you reach Nalauwaki village, climb over the hills and back down to Octopus Resort – the complete circuit takes two to three hours.
12. Take a stroll through the colourful Fijian markets
A slice of real Fiji – the bustling markets sell every imaginable type of exotic fruit, vegetable and seafood.
Fiji is not a great shopping destination, hindered by its isolation and heavy import duties and starved by lack of individual creativity in design and fashion. With a dearth of boutique shops and art galleries, your best bet is to head to the urban municipal markets, which ooze character, overflow with local produce and have the most authentic collection of handicrafts.
13. Spend a night in a village
Getting to know the locals over a nightly brew of yaqona in one of Fiji’s many rural villages is one of the most authentic things to do in Fiji.
Visiting a traditional village provides a unique insight into Fijian culture. As soon as you arrive at a village, excitable kids call out “bula!”, elders take the time to shake your hand and you’ll invariably receive offers to stay for a meal or longer.
Most resorts offer village tours, often including a trip to a craft market and a simple yaqona ceremony. While these can be a good option for those short on time, you may end up visiting nearby villages which have become over-commercialized. The best tours visit the more remote, traditional villages and are often combined with adventure activities such as rafting or kayaking.
There’s nothing to stop you visiting a village unaccompanied. For a full immersion into Fijian life consider staying overnight in a Fijian village either with a family or in a purpose-built community-owned guest bure. Kadavu is an excellent place to experience traditional culture, as are the Yasawa Islands, which come with the added bonus of beautiful beaches.
Fiji is a pretty good destination for a backpacking trip. Read our list of tips for a first backpacking trip if you have decided this is the experience you you wish for.
14. Dive with sharks in Beqa Lagoon
Encounter mean-looking bull sharks and the odd tiger shark at this open-water, shark-feeding dive off Beqa Island.
Some 12km south of Pacific Harbour, Beqa Lagoon is renowned for its shark-feeding dives, which attract divers from across the world. On a good day you may see up to a hundred sharks, including reef sharks, silvertips, tawny nurse sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, menacing-looking bull sharks and the occasional tiger shark, as well as schools of other large fish taking advantage of the free food (mostly tuna heads from a nearby factory).
Two companies: Aqua Trek Beqa and Beqa Adventure Divers claim an excellent safety record, but for a more sedate experience there are also soft coral and wreck dives available in the lagoon on the days that the sharks are not fed.
15. Embrace nature in the Bouma National Heritage Park
This huge tract of protected rainforest on the beautiful island of Taveuni is home to native birdlife, including parrots and the pretty orange dove.
Fifteen kilometres southeast of Matei is the northern boundary of the Bouma National Heritage Park, an important wildlife reserve, protecting forty thousand acres of ancient rainforest laced with waterfalls and home to rare birds and plants.
Within the park are four villages, each running a specific eco-attraction: Waitabu, the first of the villages encountered along the road from Matei, has a protected marine park. 4km further into the park, Vidawa offers a rewarding rainforest hike to ancient ruins in the hills; neighbouring Korovou (also known as Bouma) maintains the spectacular Tavoro Waterfall Trail through three sets of falls.
And the last of the four villages, Lavena, 15km to the south and at the end of the road, has a beautiful coastal walk with kayaking and another refreshing waterfall at its end. Also within the park are Lake Tagimaucia and Des Vœux Peak, although these are most easily accessed from the west coast.
16. Visit Kula Wild Adventure Park
The absorbing Kula Eco Park holds Fiji’s largest collection of native wildlife, and is nicely situated in a temperate forest with self-guided boardwalks meandering through aviary cages, reptile enclosures and a reef fish aquarium. Large crested iguanas are its highlight: endemic to Fiji, they are rarely seen and limited to only a couple of islands off Vanua Levu and Yasawa.
17. Explore the Coral Coast
Driving along the Coral Coast, loosely defined as the 60km section of the Queens Road between Korotogo Beach and Pacific Harbour, is perhaps among the most pleasant things to do in Fiji.
The name, inspired by the exposed offshore reefs, was used to market Fiji’s first collection of tourist resorts, which were set up here in the 1960s. The Coral Coast begins in the province of Baravi, passing through the small settlement of Korolevu, where Fiji’s first tourist hotel once stood; along the coastline here are a dozen beach resorts.
Beyond Korolevu, the scenery becomes more intense as the highway climbs inland over the mountains of Serua, which shield several deep bays with secluded budget retreats. There are few specific attractions on the Coral Coast apart from its scenery, but its situation, midway between the sites of Sigatoka and the activities of Pacific Harbour, makes it a good base.
18. Visit Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple in Nadi
The largest in the Southern Hemisphere, the impressive Sri Siva Subrahmaniya Swami Temple (also known as Nadi Temple) dominates the southern end of downtown.
Opened in 1994, this evocative three-tower Hindu temple was built by eight specialist craftsmen brought in from India and took ten years to construct. A leaflet for visitors details the stories behind the vividly coloured murals.
The Dravidian temple is dedicated to the deity Murugan, whose statue, specially carved in India, is housed within the 12m-high main pyramidal vimanam with a rectangular toped roof. The two towers at the rear of the temple with colourful dome-shaped roofs are dedicated to Ganesh and Shiva.
The best time of year to visit is during one of its festivals, the most striking of which is the Thaipusam Festival held in January/February.
- Best for couples: Platinum Cawa Apartments. Boasting an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, and a garden, Platinum Cawa Apartments features accommodation in Nadi with free WiFi and garden views. This property offers a private pool and free private parking.
Where to stay in Nadi:
- Best for airport location: Fiji Gateway Hotel. Offering free airport transfers, Fiji Gateway Hotel is located directly opposite Nadi International Airport. Guests have a choice of 2 restaurants, a bar and 2 swimming pools. The refurbished rooms at Gateway Fiji feature air conditioning and a refrigerator. Tea/coffee making facilities and a private bathroom with slippers and a hairdryer are provided.
19. Take a walk through the Garden of the Sleeping Giant
A 35-acre rainforest adventure park, the Sleeping Giant Zipline features an array of zip wires, where you can fly through the jungle at speeds of 60km/h. Also in the park, at the pretty Orchid Falls waterfall, you can swing on ropes, swim in pools and spot parrots.
You can either walk to the falls independently, or go on the one-hour guided walk which is included in the price – either way, it’s worth the trip alone even if you don’t fancy the high-adrenaline zip wires.
Founded by actor Raymond Burr (aka Perry Mason), the Garden of the Sleeping Giant boasts a wonderful collection of orchids and other flowering plants as well as gentle trails meandering through the landscaped grounds and into the lowland rainforest abutting the Sleeping Giant escarpment.
Explore the area around Nadi. See religious landmarks and natural attractions with this guided tour. Marvel at the facade of a Hindu temple, meander by fragrant flowers in the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, and take a restorative dip in the soothing thermal pools.
20. Find all you need at Port Denarau Marina
The commercial centre of Denarau and terminal for ferries and day-cruises to the islands is Port Denarau. Its modern and sterile shopping centre boasts a dozen restaurants, most of which double as bars with views overlooking the marina.
You’ll also find tour operators, car rental outlets, bicycles, beauty and massage outlets, a bank with ATM and some shops, including a newsagent with post office counter, deli and a liquor store.
Travel by boat from Denarau to South Sea Island by high-speed catamaran. Explore an uninhabited island surrounded by crystal-clear waters and coral reefs. Swim, snorkel, and enjoy a BBQ lunch.
21. Submerge yourself into Sabeto Valley hot springs
Most tours include a free pick-up from Nadi hotels to the spectacular orchid gardens, therapeutic mud pools and exhilarating zip wires of the Sabeto Valley.
The nicest scenery of the lush Sabeto Valley is along the Sabeto Road, 4km north of the airport. South of the Sabeto River, the distinct outline of the Sleeping Giant rock formation is clearly visible from the road, which is tar-sealed for its first 5km.
Beyond the Masimasi Hindu Temple, the road turns to dirt before entering the southern section of the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park, then continuing east foranother 30km through the steep Nausori Highlands to the remote Vaturu Dam.
The Tifajek Mud Pools and Hot Springs were first discovered in the 1940s when US soldiers used them to bathe in. Today, you can indulge in a full rejuvenating and body cleansing routine: the first procedure is to wallow in the pools and smother your body in black mud.
After sun-drying the mud to a plaster, you wash off in a stream and then submerge yourself in the sulphur-infused volcanic hot pool to cleanse your skin. If that’s not relaxing enough, you can pay extra for a body massage afterwards.
22. Take Sigatoka river safari & visit sand dunes
Dominated by Indian traders, the busy market centre of Sigatoka is located 4km inland on the banks of the Sigatoka River, and acts as a hub for the region. In general, it’s a pleasant little window into urban life in provincial Fiji, with a bustling market at the centre, small-scale shops filling a tight network of streets, and plenty of curry restaurants.
Five kilometres west of central Sigatoka, the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park makes for an inspiring outing. The mighty dunes cover an area of 650 hectares, stretching for 3km and petering out to a sand spit at the mouth of the Sigatoka River. In places they rise to 80m, with fantastic views of the crashing surf along the beach.
Sigatoka River Safari offers entertaining jet-boat “safari” tours of the Sigatoka River Valley, including village visits with kava, Fijian food and dance. Coastal Inland Tours have several options including a waterfall tour, a cannibal-cave journey and a river cruise; all are four hours long and include a kava ceremony at local villages.
23. Watch the fire-walking show
Between April and September every year, Dravidian Hindus around Fiji seek favourable omens from the gods during the replanting of crops. To test their faith and devotion, many take part in one of the eighty or so Indian firewalking ceremonies that occur throughout rural Fiji.
The build-up to any ceremony is a two-week-long process of denial and self-discipline to attain purification, culminating in a night of passionate dedication when the fire pit is lit.
Before crossing the pit, the yellow-clad participants undergo body piercings, notably through the tongue and cheeks, bathe in either a river or the ocean and are finally physically whipped into a frenzy before strutting across the hot embers – not surprisingly a few participants end up in hospital. The most accessible of the ceremonies is held in July or August at the Mariamma Hindu Temple.
24. Stay at the Natadola Beach
One of Viti Levu’s most picturesque beaches, white-sand Natadola is hidden away off the Queens Road, less than an hour’s drive south of Nadi. A long, sweeping crescent fringing an emerald sea, it is one of the few bodysurfing beaches in Fiji – one small surfing break, on the south side close to the river-mouth, is popular with local kids, while there’s a more challenging one at the channel entrance.
All in all, Natadola makes an excellent day-trip from Nadi, despite the persistent touts from the local village who will try to sell you handicrafts or a ride on a mangy horse. It’s also the departure point for transfers to the lively backpacker resort, Robinson Crusoe Island.
- Best for luxury: InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa is a luxurious resort nestled amongst lush tropical grounds. Located on the beachfront, it offers breathtaking views of Natadola Bay.
Where to stay near the Natadola Beach:
- Best for beach access: Yatule Resort & Spa offers direct access to the famous Natadola Beach and is a 2-minute drive from the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course. Onsite facilities include a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool with a swim-up bar and free parking.
If you're looking for places as unusual as Fiji, read our guide to the most exotic places to travel in the world.
Ready for a trip to Fiji? Check out the snapshot The Rough Guide to Fiji. If you travel further in Fiji, read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit in Fiji. For inspiration use the itineraries from The Rough Guide to Fiji. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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