Fiji: A South Pacific Paradise
3 Ways to Unwind and Experience the Islands
Some countries get lucky. If you’re wondering why Fiji enjoys such a glittering reputation for its paradise vacations, simply look at where it sits on the world map. The South Pacific is one of the most exotic spots on the planet, and Fiji itself – surrounded by clear, dolphin-blue waters and white sands – has been blessed with the kind of postcard scenery that MacBook wallpapers were created for. If you’re looking for somewhere to indulge in some serious R&R, search no more.
Between them, the 300-plus islands that make up the country produce a lifetime’s worth of beaches and palm trees, but there’s more to Fiji than simply soaking up the sun and the surroundings. It’s a popular stop-off for cruise ships, and the diving and cultural options on offer are excellent too. Just as importantly, English is widely spoken, meaning communication is very rarely an issue.
The possibilities are ripe for five-star indulgence in Fiji, so it’s no coincidence that the destination has attracted some of the celebrity world’s biggest names, both for work and pleasure.
The range of different beaches and resorts includes some of the best and most secluded spots in the tropics. The largest Fijian island is Viti Levu, and its northern and southern fringes – known as the Sunshine Coast and Coral Coast respectively – are both idyllic spots to unwind, with rainforest lodges, over-water bungalows and golf courses to boost the appeal.
Arguably the most exclusive vacations, however, are had on Fiji’s abundance of smaller islands, particularly the Mamanuca and Yasawa archipelagos stretching north of Viti Levu. It’s here you’ll find some spectacular private retreats and luxury resorts, complete with truly exceptional service and design standards.
And as you’d expect, there are ample opportunities for spa treatments throughout the country – if you’ve never had a Fijian barefoot massage or banana-leaf wrap with a gentle South Pacific breeze in your hair, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Waters this blue were meant to be sailed on, and there’s an undeniable romance to the idea of cruising around the clear lagoons and inlets of the archipelago, calling in on the choicest islands and admiring the region’s dreamy scenery from the comfort of a ship. A large part of the appeal lies in the variety that a cruise affords – in the space of a day you might sample a traditional lovo meat feast on one island, play beach volleyball on another, and still have time for a snorkeling session when you’re not relaxing on deck.
There’s a variety of high-end cruising packages out there, usually ranging from three to seven days and giving you the chance to take in a range of different spots – the Yasawa island group is particularly popular, thanks in large part to the volcanic outcrops and coral gardens characterizing the area. It’s possible to arrange overnight island stays in some cases, but itineraries are more likely to involve on-board accommodation. Fiji also features heavily on wider South Pacific cruise itineraries, which might incorporate the likes of Tahiti, Tonga and Samoa.
Private yacht charters are a further option, with vessels ranging from power catamarans to sailing schooners. These come with crew and provisions as a matter of course. But no matter how you choose to do it, island-hopping in Fiji – with its reefs, its ice-white sands, its sunset cocktails and its tropical warmth – is unforgettable.
Under the Sea...
It’s no exaggeration to say that Fiji offers some of the best diving in the Pacific. Billed as the “soft coral capital of the world,” it caters to scuba divers and snorkelers with equal aplomb.
The waters themselves have an enticing average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and the marine life is sensational, with turtles, rays and a rainbow assortment of tropical fish inhabiting a world of colorful coral, sea walls and drop-offs. Visibility is excellent too, often stretching up to 165ft.
In terms of where exactly to go, there’s a huge number of choices. The famous Great Astrolabe Reef is the world’s fourth largest barrier reef and extends along the entire southern coast of Kadavu Island, while the Rainbow Reef – southeast of Vanua Levu – is another celebrated dive site.