Bula! In Fiji it's still possible to completely relax and do absolutely nothing. There is a lot to be said for soaking up some sun, cool refreshments and splashing around on an island paradise. In Fiji, you can do as little or as much as you want. Sit poolside at a resort and sip on an icy cold drink. It's bliss. Alternatively, you can surf, ride, and swim in year round tropical warmth.
Just like Hawaii, its northern hemisphere counterpart, Fiji is comprised of over 300 tropical islands. However, Fiji is more centralized than Hawaii with most travellers staying on the main island, Viti Levu - where the Nadi International Airport is also located.
For first time Fijian visitors, it is a good idea to stay relatively close the airport on the Eastern side of Viti Levu for at least for a night or two as you transit. This area also gives you access to a wide range of tours, activities and other tourism related facilities.
If you want to get away from it all, then there are many island resorts to choose from. Of these, the most accessible are on the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands. Many Fijian islands host tranquil resorts and there are resort options for all styles and budgets.
Even through there are domestic Fijian flights, charter helicopters and ferry services it's important to remember that Fiji is an archipelago when planning your accommodation and activities, to help with logistics and travel costs.
Detailed information is available from Tourism Fiji at http://www.fiji.travel as well as http://www.tripadvisor.com.au and http://www.lonelyplanet.com
So what can you do in Fiji? Let's start with nothing (or nothing much!). That's right. About the only thing you have to remember to do is breathe and apply sunscreen. If this appeals to you then Fiji is paradise; the place doesn't do hustle and bustle. Time drifts gently through the palm trees. Some days it is as though all that exists is the friendly wait service and the lapping of waves by white sandy beaches. The Fijian tourism sector is established, professional, friendly and everyone speaks English.
So just unwind. Re-discover yourself. Book a massage or spa treatment.
Get active in Fiji's Natural Beauty
Fiji has some great surf as well as stunning palm tree lined beaches. Fiji hosts world championship surfing competitions on the famous Cloudbreak, renowned for the size and shape of the barrelling left-breaking waves – recommended for experienced surfers only! There are also sheltered beaches and many stunningly beautiful coral reefs.
Fiji is blessed with year round surf. Generally, there is bigger surf, which can become monstrous - 5 metre plus waves in the peak season (mid-year) and then there are smaller swells with less wind over the summer (wetter season Nov-April) months. There are surf schools and areas that are friendly for the beginner surfer. Visit http://magicseaweed.com for daily surf reports.
If you are in Fiji during the "wet season" you will see the rainforest welcome the warm rains and it is the ideal time to go see waterfalls in full flight. White water rafting is a great Fijian adventure anytime. There are also some excellent hiking trail options through Fiji's lush forest where the wildlife includes Fiji's national treasure - iguanas. Fiji is great for mountain biking and you can hire bikes to discover the great inland areas.
Fijian Culture & Cuisine
No trip to Fiji is complete without experiencing a Lovo, which is the name for traditional Fijian feast. A Lovo is slow cooked on hot rocks with food placed into woven banana leaves or palm fronds and buried underground. Cooking time is around 2 hours but you will be on island time, so it will be ready when it's ready. Just relax.
Fijian villages are where you can encounter traditional dance, music, art and crafts. Even if you aren't religious, it is worth taking the advice of Cab Calloway playing Curtis from the Blues Brother's movie, "Jake, you get wise, you get to church." The music, the singing, the drumming and the hospitality of Fijian Sunday worship is a cultural phenomenon and you will see that Fiji slows down even more on Sundays!
Hotels and tourism operators offer many tours to picturesque, traditional villages. When visiting a Fijian village there are a few protocols that need to be followed:
- Remove your hat as a sign of respect to the chief
- Bring a gift (sevusevu) of Kava. Listen to your guide and follow their advice – they will usually take care of the gift for you
- Houses are barefoot zones – you must leave your shoes at the door
- Do not touch someone's head, including children
- Wear modest clothes
- Smile – this is not strictly a rule but why not?
The fresh tropical produce options are exceptional. Fiji's waves of migration from Melanesian and Polynesian, through to European, Indian and Asian have built a unique, multi-cultural society. Each wave of immigration has brought new recipes for the seafood and the fresh fruit and vegetables that the rich volcanic soils of Fiji nourish.
Resort facilities in Fiji cater to the avid and amateur sports person alike. Both golf and tennis are well catered for and the tropical conditions suit summer sports. You can also join in a social game of volleyball or touch football down on the beach with other guests and resort staff.
Fijians love rugby. They also adore the seven-a-side version, rugby 7's, where Fiji is ranked number 1 in the world. Naturally all this success makes the game wildly popular here! Even if you are not a sports tragic, if you can get along to a local rugby game you see Fijian sporting passion up close and personal. Details of games and tournaments are available at http://www.fijirugby.com
Fiji is for Families
Fiji is well equipped for people traveling with kids. Most resorts have kids clubs, child care and experienced child minding services. Fiji values its family friendly status and there are lots of activities that are safe and include children. Kids will also love the compact nature of Fiji where there are few long car tips. Because it is a family friendly destination, there are always many other kids to build sandcastles and to play with, which is why Fiji keeps topping the ratings for family holidays.
http://www.smartraveller.gov.au provides regular up-dates on Fiji as a destination. While Fiji is small and relaxed it can experience cyclones and political unease so it is vital that you keep aware of any travel warnings.