7 Things to do in Fiji
1) A Capital Idea
IT WOULD be just plain rude to come all the way to this country and not visit its capital wouldn’t it? Of course it would be! Fortunately Fiji’s capital, Suva, is much nicer than Australia’s and is well worth checking out. It boasts plenty to do, whether you want to be cultural (sightseeing) or primitive (getting lashed in a bar).
However you chose to spend your time here, you first have to get there and as 95 per cent of tourists arrive at Nadi – on the western side of the Viti Levu island – you’ll either have to jump on a half-hour flight or take an easterly four-hour drive along the King’s highway. However, once you arrive in Suva you can treat yourself to a nice, cool hotel because you’ll probably be sweating like a one-legged man at an arse kicking contest. After a nice shower, you’ll be ready to take in the chilled-out Thurston Gardens, the captivating museum and government houses or the old markets and quaint shops. If you get hungry while exploring the city there’s an overwhelming amount of dining options that feature Fiji’s rich cultural tapestry -Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, Chinese and European Influences -and you’re certain to find something you like in Suva. If you’re out for a beer and you here someone shouting ‘Bula’ don’t be alarmed as this is just the locals’ friendly meet-and-greet method.
SOME of the most gorgeous diving spots in the world can be found around Fiji’s 300-plus islands, so if you’re not terrified of the depths of the ocean then you need to slip into a wetsuit and get down there. Let it be known that this is nothing like the putrid waters of good old Blighty, the South Pacific seas are always clear and contain thousands of colourful and incredible-looking species. If you’ve never gone diving before then you will be delightfully surprised to find that most places have PADI instructors on staff to teach you the ropes. Regardless of where you chose to dive you’re certain to find something incredible, like dolphins, manta rays, reef sharks and enough coral life to make the faint-hearted uncomfortable. You’ll also have a chance to see shipwrecks, caves and grottos whilst doing some of the dives, so don’t miss out on the place the legendary diver Jean-Michel Cousteau called “The unparalleled range of quality dive sites and sheer diversity of life of Fijian reefs is overwhelming”. The top diving spots are Pacific Harbour, Kaduva, the Somosomo straits, the Mamanucas and Plantation, Musket Cove and Castaway, near Nadi. There are honestly so many top diving destinations that we could fill up the whole magazine if we wanted to, but we don’t.
3) Rainforest Trekking in Fiji
LET’S face it, you can find great rainforest hiking in Australia. So, why would you chose to come all the way to Fiji to do it? Well, unlike Australia you don’t run the risk of being devoured by a 20ft croc while trekking through Fiji’s forests. The real wonder of these exhilarating lands is that countless harmful creatures don’t call them home and you won’t have to worry about something biting off one of your limbs while here. Sure, we all like to be adventurous but there’s really nothing like the comfort you get from knowing that an animal won’t eat you here. However, this does not mean that you’ll be bored while exploring here, Fiji’s forests have amazing landscapes and birds that are so colourful they make Mardi Gras in Sydney look like Sunday mass. Much of the area will appear to be impenetrable, but there are so many pathways marked by the local Fijians that there’s no need to worry about anything. There are crystal clear streams and magnificent waterfalls as a result of the mountainous nature of these places. One of the most famous destinations is Bouma Falls, in the National Heritage Park on Taveuni. This is because it was featured in the 1991 film ‘Return to the Blue Lagoon’ and it comes as no surprise when you see this beautiful area first hand. However, you shouldn’t limit you’re options just because one place is the most popular. There are many top rainforest sites here including around the coastal areas of Viti Levu, so don’t be a lazy git and see as much as you can.
4) Island Hopping in Fiji
WE have told you that Fiji is made up of over 300 islands and you should be well aware that you have plenty of options by this point. But, if you’re looking for a tried and true circuit, especially among the backpacking crowd, check out the north-westerly Yasawa Islands. You will see about 20 islands on this route, including Kuata, Waya, Wayasewa and Naviti (some of the most beautiful). The first three of these islands take about two hours to reach by catamaran form Nadi, while Naviti (the largest of the group) is another 50 minutes away. This is definitely the circuit we recommend for the adventure seekers as it has so much to do. Throughout your journey you’ll find great hiking trails, beautiful beaches and offshore snorkelling. Arguably the best part of the whole thing is that backpacker accommodation is very affordable, so you won’t be strapped for cash during your stay. If you want to try another stunning selection of islands then you may want to look south of the Yasawas to find the Mamanucas. If you have a great interest in surfing or sunbathing then this is definitely the place for you to go. These isles have been called the Fijian Surfers’ Paradise by some and it’s no surprise when you consider that wave lovers have been making the trip here since the mid-1980s. If you want some of the best surfing spots head over to Cloudbreak off of Tavarua Island. However, if you prefer to relax in the sun all day then you might be better off going to Tavarua’s sister islands. You’ll be greeted by beautiful white-sand beaches on Malolo Levu, Malolo Lailai, Mana, Matamanoa, Naviti, Qalito and Treasure Islands.
5) Sampling Grassroots Fijan Culture
IF you’ve done any kind of research on Fiji whatsoever then you have probably already heard about how friendly the local people are, particularly to us tourists. We imagine that you’re sceptical and think this is a load of bullshit, but if you want to put those feelings to rest you should visit Vanua Levu. This is the second largest island of the archipelago and it’s the perfect place to sample local culture and traditions that have remained completely unsullied from tourism. Labasa is a large indian community Labasa which is heavily into its sugar industry, while Savusavu is a smaller town which offers great diving and yachting opportunities. Both of these places are becoming more and more popular with tourists but if you delve deeper you’ll still find scores of secluded villages on this volcanic island, which has a wild and rugged interior. If you fancy staying in these villages to soak up the traditional Fijian lifestyle, with its lovo feasts and meke dancing, tours are simple to arrange. Check out www.fijianfamilies.com or https://www.fiji-bure.com for more information. You won’t regret it.
REMEMBER that last bit when we told you about how nice the Fijian locals were? Well it wasn’t always that way. Fiji used to have a love for cannibalism and it’s evident in there shops. If you take a walk around the handcraft shops and stalls of places like Nadi and the Coral Coast you will see some of the Fijian ancestor’s ‘toys’ of the past. This is quite a treat for the souvenir hunters out there, especially the nutters who enjoy collecting knives. You can find everything from cannibal forks to lethal spears and war clubs – just don’t kill anyone when you get back home. Although, if you’re not as sadistic you will appreciate the woven mats, wall hangings and pottery they have available. You can find the usual tourist t-shirts and post cards too, so it’s definitely worth browsing around for a bit. Besides, nobody’s going to believe that you actually went here unless you bring back some sort of primitive device used for gouging out someone’s eyes.
7) Bird Watching in Fiji
FIJI is known world-wide for being home to some of the most exotic looking birds, of the flying variety. We know that if you cared that much about birds you’d probably reading an issue of ‘Bird Enthusiast Monthly’ instead of this. However, our feathered friends are certainly not something to be missed when you come to Fiji. If you thought the birds were exotic in Australia, then wait until you get here. You can literally see every colour imaginable on these animals, so bring some binoculars and a camera. Tavenui and Kaduva are arguably the best spots for bird-watching, while the Tunulao rainforest on Vanua Levu possesses rare silktail. Coloi-Suva Forest Park near Suva is another highlight, as is the Waidroka Bay Resort, which you’ll find near Queens Road on Vitu Levu.