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From swimming with manta rays to snorkelling over a coral reef to sharing a meal in a local village, Fiji offers pristine waters and genuinely warm hospitality


All About Fiji

Fiji’s islands aren’t exactly "off the beaten track". There’s a steady stream of tourists beating a well-worn path from Nadi or Suva to the door of their beachside bungalow. Its stunning islands have been the location for dozens of movies and TV shows including Blue Lagoon (Yasawas), Castaway (Mamanucas) and Survivor (Vanua Levu) placing it firmly in the spot light as a travel destination. And yet Fiji still manages to provide a small island experience and a warm welcome.


Fiji is a nation of small islands. The archipelago has over 300 islands and 500 islets ranging from steep-sided volcanos covered with tropical forests to coral quays. Of these, only 100 are permanently inhabited and 87% of the population lives on the two largest: Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.


These lightly populated islands are known for their coconut fringed, white, sandy beaches and sensationally clear water.  The changing underwater landscape of deep coral reefs and its abundant marine life can be clearly viewed from the side of a boat. To swim amongst it is otherworldly.


But there are also plenty of experiences to be had on the main islands, away from the resorts. Suva and Nadi are cosmopolitan cities that showcase Fiji's rich cultural history from colonial buildings and Hindu temples to modern shopping complexes. While inland, there is white water rafting in breathtaking gorges, and treks through tropical forests to mountain villages where you might end up sharing the potent kava drink with locals.


Indigenous Fijians are of Melanesian and Polynesian descent. The islands fell under British colonial rule in 1874 and did not regain independence until 1970. During the colonial period, the British brought indentured Indian labourers to work the sugar plantations. Today, their descendants make up 38% of the population and Hindustani is one of the nation's 3 official languages, alongside Fijian and English.


However, tensions between the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian population has led to political power battles, including 4 military coups between 1987 and 2007. In 2006, Frank Bainimarama took control of the country in a military dictatorship. Although an indigenous Fijian, he made efforts to reduce the ethnic tensions in politics by altering ethnic-based voting boundaries and, controversially, abolishing the Great Council of Chiefs.

In 2014, the first democratic elections since the 2006 coup were held and Bainimarama was elected Prime Minister. Australia and New Zealand subsequently lifted sanctions and Fiji was re-admitted to the Commonwealth.  However, human rights, media and political opposition groups claim ongoing oppression by Bainimarama's military-backed government. 


Socio-economically and geographically there are also continued differences between Fiji's two main ethnic groups. While most Indo-Fijians live in, or close to, major cities, many indigenous Fijians on the main and outer islands maintain their traditional, subsistence lifestyles in small villages.  Strict land ownership laws means that the majority of the land is owned by indigenous Fijians.


Ironically, although 90% of Fiji's area is water (and rising) the nation lies in one of the driest parts of the pacific and many villagers face a lack of clean, fresh water. This has become more significant with the increasing impact of climate change causing droughts and salinisation. The development of sustainable land and water management solutions help improve water access and public health at a local level, but global issues are more difficult for Fiji to curtail on their own. 


As one of the larger small island nations in Oceania, Fiji is outspoken about climate change which is affecting their islands through weather changes and rising sea levels. In 2014, Fiji had the dubious honour of being the first Pacific nation to have to relocate an entire village due to climate change. Over 600 other villages have been identified at risk. Despite having a low carbon imprint, Fiji is leading by example, committing to reducing its own emissions by 30% and 100% renewable energy by 2030.  Its future depends on others following suit.  



Fiji specialises in tourism for the budget-conscious. It has been a 'go-to' island destination for families and the not so jet-set for decades. As a result, Fiji sees more visitors a year than its south pacific neighbours (excluding Australia & New Zealand).


Fiji has long understood the interdependence between visitors, locals and the environment and the importance of developing sustainable tourism that involves and supports local communities and maintains the pristine marine and green environments. 


The Yasawas is one of Fiji's newer tourism zones. The island group was essentially off-limits as a tourist destination until 1987. Since then, tourism has built up exponentially, but with conservation and social responsibility in mind.  The Yasawas largely markets towards young, eco-minded, budget travellers. By integrating low-cost accommodation into mid-range resorts, budget tourists can access quality facilities in beautiful locations, but avoid whole islands becoming hedonistic backpacker haunts or high-density holiday strips. Activities lean towards the low impact and natural environment. Although there are 27 villages scattered over the dozens of islands there are no shops, banks or restaurants outside the resorts, and tourists generally only go to the villages on guided visits.


Most of the Yasawas resorts are foreign-owned. The operators work in collaboration with the local community and are an important source of employment and land lease payments for local villagers. Some have undertaken additional community or conservation projects and encourage voluntourism through initiatives such as Vinaka Fiji.  While this may not be a complete answer (and voluntourism has its pluses and minuses) it is important to see operators working with local communities and visitors to ensure a region's tourism is being developed with sustainable community and environmental aspirations.



Fiji is a year-round destination, although there is a possibility of cyclones from November-April. Peak Season is July-September and December & January. Manta Rays are in Yasawa's waters May-Oct.



Fiji has international connections from Nadi to New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Los Angeles and other Pacific destinations and the capital Suva to New Zealand, Australia, Tonga and Tuvalu. 


Unlike some island nations where transport can be convoluted, Fiji has tourist-oriented, streamlined inter-island ferry services that efficiently deposit travellers on their dream island. Awesome Adventures Yasawa Flyer, South Sea Cruises and Captain Cook leave from Port Denarau in Nadi for the Mamanucas and Yasawas.  From Suva / Natovi Landing various companies (such as Patterson Brothers and Groundar Shipping) service to the Eastern and Northern Islands of  Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kadavu, Lau Group. 


On the main island, there are comfortable bus services (e.g. Pacific or Sunbeam) as well as hire car and scooter options. 

History & Culture
Sustainable Tourism
When to Go
Getting There & Around

There are many ways to experience Fiji from hinterland homestays to island hopping the resorts. Support locally owned business and those that work in collaboration with locals. 

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