9 authentic experiences to have in Fiji

From the mountain peaks to the bottom of the sea, there's much more of Fiji to explore than its beaches. Meet the locals, taste the food and immerse yourself in nature with these authentic things to do...

4 mins

1. Visit a local market

Explore Fiji's local markets (Shutterstock)

Explore Fiji's local markets (Shutterstock)

All major towns in Fiji have markets but Suva's is one of the best. To see and hear locals working and shopping, head to Suva’s market near the main wharf. The stretch of stalls are as bright as they are bustling, and you’ll hear vendors shouting out their deals and buyers haggling. Walk by row upon row of fresh vegetables and smell food wafting over the stalls, bound to make your stomach grumble.

To avoid the crowds and bag the freshest produce, go early in the mornings. Fridays and Saturdays are when the best deals tend to be found.

Nearby, you’ll find the Suva Handicraft Centre. This is the perfect place for finding authentic souvenirs, with kava bowls, traditional drums and many more cultural gifts on sale.  

2. Embark on a highland trek

Experience a different side to Fiji on a highland trek (Talanoa Treks)

Experience a different side to Fiji on a highland trek (Talanoa Treks)

When you think of Fiji, sugar-white sands and azure waters is what springs immediately to most people’s minds. Although Fiji’s coast is undoubtedly beautiful, there’s much more of this country to see. Experience Fiji’s highlands on a multi-day trek with Talanoa Treks to see a different and still spectacular side of Fiji.

Starting on Viti Levu’s Suncoast, at the foothills of the Nakauvadra Mountains, choose your hike (options range from daytrips to four-night treks) to be guided through Fiji’s off-beat and rugged interior.

You’ll have the chance to climb some of Fiji’s highest mountains, trek through pristine forest, visit remote highland villages and meet the people who live there, discover some of Fiji’s most captivating waterfalls and see a side to Fiji most people don’t even know exists.

What’s more, you’ll be giving something back as Talanoa Treks takes sustainability seriously, working to help rural Fijian communities, keeping their carbon footprint as low as possible, and ensuring they do their bit to keep the landscape unpolluted and unspoilt.

3. Go diving

Explore Fiji's vibrant coral reefs (Shutterstock)

Explore Fiji's vibrant coral reefs (Shutterstock)

There’s almost as much going on beneath Fiji’s surface as there is above it, so why not immerse yourself in the warm waters and see for yourself?

Fiji’s Great Astrolabe Reef off Kadavu Island is one of the largest and healthiest coral reefs in the world and is home to much marine life.

Don an oxygen tank and a mask and follow the underwater, coral-covered walls for an eyeful of rainbow-coloured fish. Look out for giant grouper, tuna, marlin, turtles and reef sharks. Particularly majestic are the manta rays shimmering far below in the deep channels. 

See more incredible diving spots in Fiji

4. Snorkel alongside manta rays 

Snorkel alongside manta rays in Fiji (Shutterstock)

Snorkel alongside manta rays in Fiji (Shutterstock)

If you don’t know how to dive, you can still experience Fiji’s magical underwater worlds with your own eyes by making the most of the country’s many snorkelling sites. 

One of the best places to snorkel is in the clear waters surrounding the Yasawa Islands, made unique by the manta rays that frequent this part of Fiji between May and October. Manta rays are also found in Kadavu and Lomaiviti year round. 

The Manta Rays can grow as big as six metres from wing to wing, creating dark darting shadows on the turquoise water. Swim slowly above them to watch how they glide gracefully through the water and you’ll soon understand why the people of Fiji hold these majestic fish in such high regard.

For a fuller experience, hire a snorkelling guide who will be able to take you to the best manta ray viewing spots and answer any questions you may have about this protected species. 

5. Explore the Sigatoka Sand Dunes

The Sigatoka Sand Dunes at sunset (Tourism Fiji)

The Sigatoka Sand Dunes at sunset (Tourism Fiji)

The Sigatoka Sand Dunes, with their rippled surface undulating under a blue sky and rising mightily above the South Pacific, are a sight you’ll likely never forget. Although the views are some of the best you will see in Fiji, exploring these protected dunes is about more than just the spectacular beauty. This part of Fiji is home to one of the earliest settlement sites in the country and there’s a wealth of cultural heritage as well as natural sites to discover here.

With some of the dunes rising to a height of 60m, there’s some tough yet rewarding walks to be had. The sandy landscapes may look barren on first inspection, but a walk and an alert eye will reveal a whole world of life. Look out for lizards, geckos and fruit bats on the ground, and raise your head to the skies to catch endemic birds such as the Fiji bush warbler and Fiji goshawk gliding past.

Study the shards of pottery that are scattered across the dunes for an insight into this area’s long and rich history. These pots are thought to have been left behind by the early inhabitants of Lapita origin and the dunes have produced the largest collection of Lapita pots from the Pacific region. Visit the Museum of Suva where some of the pottery is on display and where you can learn more about this early heritage.

Explore more of Fiji's national parks


6. Go birdwatching

Keep an keen eye out for the collared lory (Shutterstock)

Keep an keen eye out for the collared lory (Shutterstock)

Birds can be spotted from wherever you are in Fiji, even if you’re just metres from your hotel, with Taveuni, Kadavu, and Eastern Viti Levu all particularly good for endemic birds. But to get the best sightings of endemic and rare species, you’re better off going in search for them.

Head into Fiji’s rainforests to spot different coloured parrots, streaked fantails, the native Fiji goshawk and the rare orange dove among many others.

There are also many fascinating seabirds to see, such as red and brown-footed boobies, shearwaters, petrels, terns, herons and frigates. These can be seen by walking along some of Fiji’s rugged coasts or kayaking through mangrove forests.

Explore Fiji's best birdwatching spots

7. Learn how chocolate is made

See cocoa pods hanging from trees (Shutterstock)

See cocoa pods hanging from trees (Shutterstock)

Hidden in the rainforest nearby Savusavu, a visit to KokoMana offers an insight into working life in Fiji. The small cocoa company grows cocoa beans and then turns them into chocolate at the small, onsite factory.

During the tour, you will walk between the neat rows of cocoa trees, taste the cocoa straight from the pod, learn about the steps from bean to chocolate bar, peek inside the factory and - most importantly – sample the end product.

8. Take a cookery course

Take a cookery course (Flavours of Fiji)

Take a cookery course (Flavours of Fiji)

A big part of many cultures is the food, and Fiji is no different. With Flavours of Fiji, you’ll start at the bustling Nadi market on Denarau Island, where you will hand-pick your ingredients with the help of an expert.

Once you have returned to the kitchen, a local chef will take you step-by-step through how to whip up a traditional Fijian dish, while sharing top tips and stories about life in Fiji.

With Fijian and Indo-Fijian classic dishes on the table, you will have a chance to sample the food you have cooked. An experience that gives you a taste of Fiji’s food, as well as its culture.

9. Visit a Fijian Village

Bures at Navala Village (Mark Snyder)

Bures at Navala Village (Mark Snyder)

Village life in Fiji is very different to life by the beach, and a visit to one of these communities will reveal a traditional way of life, where you will see an authentic side to the country.

It is important to be aware of specific protocols that must be followed when visiting a village and it is far better to go with a guide to ensure you are respectful and do not cause offence.   

The Fijian village of Nabila on the western side of Viti Levu is just one of many you can visit. The tour combines meeting the people from the village with a trip to the historically significant Battery Historic Park, also known as the Momi Gun Site.

The gun battery was constructed during World War II and thankfully never had to be used. You can learn about the site, while enjoying panoramic views of the Mamanuca Islands just offshore. 

Related Articles