Fiji includes no less than 333 islands and finding the best one to visit can seem daunting. They encompass everything from white-sand beaches to hidden waterfalls, grasslands, and limestone islets, and it’s impossible to choose one island that completely captures Fiji’s identity.
On December 1, 2021, Fiji opened its borders to visitors for the first time in over 20 months. Most major tourism operators have followed measurements under the Care Fiji Commitment, where staff and all visitors are vaccinated against COVID-19. The islands are excited to welcome travelers with a cheerful “Bula!” on arrival with this in place.
Ready to experience Fijian hospitality on these friendly islands for yourself? Here are five of the best islands in Fiji to visit—no matter what type of trip you seek.
Best for: Hiking, river rafting, shopping, and dining in Suva
Viti Levu is Fiji’s largest island and home to around 80 percent of Fiji’s citizens. Sunbathing on the sandy beaches of the Coral Coast on Viti Levu’s southwestern side and snorkeling over its shallow reefs are popular options, but there’s more to the island than its pretty coastline.
Lace up your shoes and hike through Viti Levu’s interior to experience a side of the island reserved for intrepid travelers. “The interior of Viti Levu offers a wide variety of landscapes,” says Joji Tamani, one of Fiji’s most experienced independent adventure guides. “It’s broken, rugged, traversed by steep ranges of volcanic mountains intersected by deep valleys, gorges, and canyons—through which flow the headwaters of the Rewa, the Navua, the Sigatoka and the Ba rivers.”
Multi-day treks through Fiji’s highlands involve sleeping and eating in village homestays along the way—and it’s the people who give the island’s interior its spirit. Tamani says, “This is where they farm, where they hunt, where they fish. For them to take us into their own backyard is really special.” Multi-day trips with local guides can be arranged through Talanoa Treks.
On day trips in Viti Levu you can swim in the watering holes of Colo-i-Suva, hike to Fiji’s tallest peaks in Koroyanitu National Park, and raft down the Navua River with Rivers Fiji. Scuba divers in search of a thrill can dive with bull sharks and tiger sharks in the waters of Beqa Lagoon.
Spend a full day in Suva, Fiji’s capital city, browsing through the Fiji Museum and markets. At the municipal market, sample seasonal produce and popular snacks like parcels of roti stuffed with curry or steamed cake with coconut milk syrup. At the handicraft market, shop for handmade sculptures of traditional weapons, wooden bowls called tanoa, and painted cloth made from bark called tapa. Share dishes at one of the city’s favorite Indian restaurants like Swagat or Ashiyana. If you want to feel the relaxing effects of kava, Fiji’s drink of choice, you can sip a coconut shell full of this ground pepper root at Mana Coffee & Kava Bar.
Where to stay
The Grand Pacific Hotel is a historic hotel that’s hosted the likes of royalty in the heart of Fiji’s capital city, Suva. Yatule Resort and Spa offers beach bungalows (bures) on the sandy shores of Natadola Beach. For cross-island hiking and village accommodation, arrange your trip with Talanoa Treks.
Book the Grand Pacific Hotel Now: From $160 per night, expedia.com
Book Yatule Resort and Spa Now: From $182 per night, expedia.com
Best for: Waterfalls galore in Bouma National Heritage Park and access to Somosomo Strait dive sites
Rightfully nicknamed the “Garden Island,” Taveuni offers some of the lushest landscapes in Fiji. Nearly 80 percent of the island is within the bounds of Bouma National Heritage Park. Tavoro Falls offers three waterfalls along one trail; the first is easily accessible from a flat, neatly kept trail while further falls are down a wilder path. Embark on the Lavena Coastal Walk along Taveuni’s sometimes jagged, sometimes sandy coastline to a secluded swimming hole fed by waterfalls. Venture up to the misty peak of Des Voeux and search for the beloved tagimoucia flower, a scarlet flower that grows solely on Taveuni (and is featured on Fiji’s $50 bill).
Soft corals blanket the reefs of the Somosomo Strait, and sites like the Great White Wall and the Purple Wall covered in white and purple corals respectively are dives even the most seasoned scuba diver won’t forget.
Where to stay
Tides Beach Resort is an intimate all-inclusive resort set on a small beach.
Book Tides Beach Resort Now: From $875 per night, expedia.com
Best for: Bird-watching, hiking, snorkeling, and scuba diving
Undeveloped and unpretentious, Vanua Levu is an island of natural wonders. Peer into the treetops and spot birds in Waisali Rainforest Reserve, watch residents of Savusavu cook vegetables in the town’s boiling hot springs behind the supermarket, or escape into the forest with a hiking guide turned newfound friend. When your day of exploration is over, head to the Copra Shed Marina—where visiting sailors and islanders clink glasses of Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter.
Neelam Raff, co-owner of LiquidState Freediving, teaches travelers how to dive as far as 100 feet deep in the calm waters of Savusavu Bay using solely their breath. She says, “I love Vanua Levu for its diversity—from the mountains and rain forests to the reefs and the open Koro Sea with gems like Namena Marine Reserve in it. I love the laid-back, diverse community here.” She adds, “There are more postcard picture-perfect beaches in Fiji, but Vanua Levu is real.”
Where to stay
Book Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort now: From $862 per night, expedia.com
Book the Remote Resort Now: From $853 per night, expedia.com
Best for: Swimming with manta rays, boating, and paddling the bright blue waters of the Great Astrolabe Reef
The Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the largest fringing reefs in the world, encompasses the islands of Kadavu. Scuba dive and snorkel with manta rays, who glide through the waters like marine acrobats and feast on plankton at the reef’s natural buffet station. When they’re not around, anemones, eels, crabs, and a variety of rainbow-colored reef life stand in as entertainment.
Kadavu has captivated scuba diver Dr. Deral Nand, who traveled throughout the archipelago offering medical services to Fijians on remote islands during the pandemic. He loves Kadavu for its resiliency. In early 2016, Kadavu was hit by one of the strongest tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere, Cyclone Winston, which decimated the marine ecosystems of Kadavu. Nearly six years later, Dr. Nand says the coral reefs have renewed themselves and look amazing. He says, “It’s brilliant—thanks to the blues of the water, abundant marine life, and ability to hop from one island to the next by speedboat.”
Where to stay
Book Kokomo Private Island now: From $1,995 per night, expedia.com
Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands
Best for: White-sand beaches, surfing, and romance
The Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands often act as the showpieces for Fiji, and they should not be missed. Here you’ll find turquoise waters rife with corals and fish, sugar-sand beaches, limestone caves, and palm trees abundant with coconuts—sometimes dangerously so if one falls on your head. Skies are spectacularly starry at night. Movies like The Blue Lagoon (1980) and Castaway (2000) feature highlights of the islands, adding to their allure.
Where to stay
For rustic luxury and romance, stay at Yasawa Island Resort and Spa, where you can venture out on daily champagne picnics to a beach where privacy is nearly guaranteed. Or check into Vomo Island Fiji for family-friendly fun in a five-star setting.
Book Yasawa Island Resort and Spa now: From $847 per night, expedia.com
Book Vomo Island Fiji now: From $949 per night, expedia.com
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