Tavarua Aerial (Tourism Fiji)
Sponsored Words : Paul Clammer | 25 February 2019

The beginner's guide to Fiji’s best island experiences

With over 333 islands, Fiji has a plethora of destinations to explore, whether you're looking for diving, island adventures or just some time in the sun...

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You could spend half a lifetime exploring Fiji's many tropical islands, which makes choosing a potential destination for first-time visitors dizzying. Some islands are perfect for soaking up the sun, while others are more suited for outdoor activities, cultural or wildlife experiences. To help guide you, here are our top 7 Fiji island experiences...

Viti Levu

Scenic Mountain Ranges (Tourism Fiji)

Scenic Mountain Ranges (Tourism Fiji)

Viti Levu is Fiji's largest island. All visitors will pass through here at least once as it’s home to the country's main international airport at Nadi, though it's worth spending time here beyond catching a connection. The capital Suva offers much for visitors, including the excellent Fiji Museum with its immense drua (a double-hulled canoe) that once enabled Fijians to conquer the seas.

There’s also the Coral Coast, with the shark diving centre at Beqa, and the Sun Coast, peppered with sugar-cane fields and rural villages. Both areas are great for road trips. For the adventurous, Nananu-i-Ra, just off the north coast, is a good choice for windsurfing and kiteboarding, while the Nausori Highlands in the interior offers excellent hiking opportunities. Adrenaline-seekers also won’t be disappointed with the rafting opportunities on Sigatoka and Navua Rivers.

The Mamanucas

The Mamanucas (Dreamstime)

The Mamanucas (Dreamstime)

The Mamanuca Islands are the closest major set of islands to Viti Levu. Just an hour by boat away from Nadi, this is Fiji tourism at its most developed, with picturesque beaches and elegant, romantic resorts. For those whose aspirations lie beyond simply relaxing on pristine sand, there is also the country's best surfing, with the breaks along the southern Mamanucas offering world-class board action.

The Yasawas

Paddling over a tropical coral reef (Shutterstock)

Paddling over a tropical coral reef (Shutterstock)

The 20 or so islands that make up the Yasawas, north of the Mamanucas, are relatively remote, accessible by public catamaran. They have all the beaches you could want, as well as a good range of accommodation from budget resorts up to no-expense-spared luxury.

 The islands are great for water sports – pottering around the coast by kayak is a particular delight – and the boat trip to the Sawa-i-Lau caves, with its dramatically sea-carved limestone formations, is also not to be missed. Between May and October, you can get below the waves at Nanuya Balavu to snorkel with manta rays. The islands' hilly terrain is also good for hikes. Try the summit walk on Wayasewa, which has phenomenal views towards Viti Levu.

Ovalau

Coral Coast in Viti Levu Island, Fiji (Shuttterstock)

Coral Coast in Viti Levu Island, Fiji (Shuttterstock)

Ovalau — the most prominent island in the Lomaiviti group — is just off the east coast of Viti Levu. Its main town is the old port of Levuka, which served as Fiji's first capital. In the 19th century it had such a riotous reputation that ships were said to navigate their way into dock by following the trail of floating gin bottles on the tide.

Levuka still has plenty of charming colonial architecture, enough to grant it UNESCO World Heritage listing – the country's first. Aside from the history, there's good snorkelling along the coast. If you're feeling even more active, there’s a great hike to the village of Lovoni at the centre of the island, tucked inside the green rim of an extinct volcano. 

Vanua Levu

Fish & Cabbage Coral (Frogfish Photography (UK))

Fish & Cabbage Coral (Frogfish Photography (UK))

Fiji's second biggest island, Vanua Levu, gets fewer visitors than other destinations, but is perfect if you want to get a taste of rural Fiji along with some great diving and beach resorts. From the picturesque bay of the main town Savusavu, you can quickly get to the beautiful corals of Namena Marine Park, which has some of the best diving in the world. A short boat trip will also take you to Hunter’s pearl farm, where you can learn how this precious jewellery grows in the island’s black-lipped oysters.

If you head inland, enjoy the scenic drive to the Waisali Rainforest Reserve, where you can hike and swim in waterfalls, or make a real adventure of it in a 4WD and head for the thermal pools of Nukubolu.

Taveuni

Wainibau Waterfall at the end of Lavena Coastal Walk on Taveuni Island, Fiji (Shutterstock)

Wainibau Waterfall at the end of Lavena Coastal Walk on Taveuni Island, Fiji (Shutterstock)

Rugged Taveuni is often referred to as Fiji's garden island, making it particularly good if you want to enjoy the great outdoors, with some of the country's best hiking and bird watching spots. Taveuni has one of Fiji's highest mountains — Des Voeux Peak (1195m) — which is surrounded by hiking trails, as well as being home to the rare orange dove.

Pack your walking sandals and binoculars to trek in Bouma National Heritage Park, along the Vidawa Rainforest trail or through the dense vegetation to the crater lake at Tagimauci. If you take your swimming costume along, you can enjoy a dip on the Lavena Coastal Walk or get an adrenaline hit on the all-natural rocky Waitavala water slide. Taveuni is also one of the few places in the world where you can stand on the International Date Line — where it can be Saturday on one side, and Sunday on the other. 

Kadavu

Above and Below (Shutterstock)

Above and Below (Shutterstock)

The island of Kadavu is one of Fiji's greenest and wildest – no mean feat in a green and wild country. Most visitors come here for the world-class diving on the nearby Great Astrolabe Reef where manta rays are commonly spotted, but Kadavu is a worthy destination in itself. The green, hilly interior is threaded with hiking trails, many leading to waterfalls with swimming posts, including the picture-perfect Naikorokoro Falls.

Kadavu is also a big draw for ornithologists as the island is particularly rich in birdlife, including the Kadavu Crimson Shining Parrot (also known as the musk parrot), with its bright red body and its blue and emerald wings.

This article was supported by the Fiji Tourism Board but is independent and impartial, just like all Wanderlust editorial content.

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