With more than 330 islands and pristine coral reefs that would make fish everywhere want to up and relocate, Fiji is one of those tropical wonder zones where it’s hard to imagine ever feeling bored. With so many beaches, villages and jungles to explore, it helps to know some of the highlights when it comes to where to spend your vacation time.
Feel like lounging on a floating bar? Fiji has you covered. And the islands deliver when it’s time to go more off the beaten path, too, from surfing some of the world’s most hardcore waves to getting certified to dive on coral reefs that radiate every color of the rainbow.
Day Trips with Big Blue Fiji
A day spent on the water in Fiji is a must, whether you’re exploring the islands over the course of a few days (hopefully not) or longer (much preferred). When you have a private catamaran on call to take you to secret snorkeling spots and dreamy sandbars, life is all the better.
Big Blue Fiji, run by a friendly sailing couple, takes guests on day trips around the Mamanuca Islands from Denarau. Private multi-night charters for groups around the Mamanucas, Yasawas and beyond are worth it if you like the cruising life. The catamaran is set up for scuba diving and all manner of water sports, including paddleboarding and even wakeboarding.
And don’t be surprised to see your hosts reel in a fish and grill it up for your meal. You can even head out spearfishing with them, if you’re game.
Learn to Dive at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
It’s hard to imagine a more spectacular backdrop and setup for learning to scuba dive than at this former coconut plantation-turned-luxury eco resort on Vanua Levu helmed by Jacques Cousteau’s offspring. The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort has eco-chic bures fronting the beach (there’s no air-conditioning, but with the South Pacific breezes you won’t miss it).
The resort’s onsite full-service PADI dive center can get you scuba certified in three days and ready to head offshore with the resort boats to dive the famed soft coral gardens of the Namena Marine Reserve.
Catch a World-Class Wave with Tropicsurf
Fiji is known among wave-riders as one of the world’s most legendary surf destinations. Across the islands, there’s no shortage of lonely lineups and world-class breaks to ride. If you’ve come to ogle the pros getting barreled, don’t miss the chance to see Cloudbreak—one of the best left-hand barrels on Earth—when it’s doing its thing. Big wave season is from February to October, when you’ll almost always find a pro surfer or two staying at the legendary nearby surf resort, Tavarua.
For a surf vacation in a more family-centric setting, consider staying at Six Senses Fiji and booking bespoke trips (or lessons) at nearby breaks (including Cloudbreak, if you have the skills) with the onsite luxury surf operator, Tropicsurf.
Sigatoka River Safari
For all the islands’ stunning natural beauty, it’s the Fijian people and their warm and rich culture that may well leave you with the best memories of a visit here. For an eco and cultural adventure that takes you to authentic Fijian villages and works in a dose of adrenaline, too, you can’t beat the Sigatoka River Safari.
The boat tours aboard a custom-built safari jet boat leave from the coastal town of Sigatoka, located about 40 miles south of Nadi. You’ll cruise along the Sigatoka River and stop at true Fijian villages to experience a kava ceremony (the national beverage and the most Fijian of welcome rituals) and get a window into local life.
Witness Fire Walkers in Pacific Harbour
On the south coast of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, Pacific Harbour is worthy of a visit for many reasons, including the famous shark diving that takes place offshore here. But for culture vultures, Pacific Harbour offers the chance to see a cultural show at the Arts Village, where Fijian performers impress crowds with their fire-walking prowess.
The tradition hails from nearby Beqa Island and it’s amazing to watch the performers pad their way across stones that have been buried in a blazing fire. You’ll find lots of handmade arts and crafts, including textiles and paintings, for sale, too.
Spend a Day at Natadola Beach
A visit to Sigatoka isn’t complete without a stop to enjoy the beautiful sweep of bright white sand lapped with turquoise waters at Natadola Beach, along Fiji’s Coral Coast. Families love the fact that there are lots of areas along the beach shaded with trees to stretch out and spend the day. Horses are available for hire and a sunset ride makes for a special experience.
Make sure to bring your snorkel, too, or rent one on site, as there are pretty patches of coral teeming with tropical fish just a few kicks from the beach.
Go Rafting in the Highlands of Viti Levu with Rivers Fiji
A rollicking ride aboard an inflatable raft into the spectacular Upper Navua Gorge makes for an exciting inland adventure in Fiji. The gorge cuts through Fiji’s tropical interior, deep in the highlands of the main island of Viti Levu. The vistas you’ll get—towering black volcanic walls draped with verdant tropical plants—make for a striking contrast from more typical coastal views.
Guides pause to point out parrots and fruit bats, and you’ll break at a waterfall before finishing the day with a stop in a village for an afternoon snack. Easily one of Fiji’s best day trips, the Rivers Fiji trip is suitable for kids 8 and older, too.
Take a Cooking Class with Flavours of Fiji
Taro, sweet potatoes, coconut and all manner of flopping fresh fish show up consistently on Fijian menus. And walking through one of the islands’ many local markets brings the scent of exotic Indian spices—cardamom, curry, coriander—to waken your senses, too. For a fun day near Nadi in Denarau, sign up for a half-day cooking course with Flavours of Fiji and you’ll be treated to a guided market tour following by a cooking class.
The menus change regularly, but you can count on a mix of traditional Fijian and Indo-Fijian dishes inspired by the freshest tropical produce of the season.
Spend Some Time on Cloud 9
One of the most popular day trips from Denarau and the Nadi area is to the two-story floating bar called Cloud 9 in the Mamanuca Islands. And as long as you don’t come to this outpost of entertainment afloat in the turquoise waters surrounding Roro Reef looking for serenity, you’ll have a good time.
Fast boats leave from Denarau in the morning to spend all day at Cloud 9. When you’re not dipping into the beautiful waters for a swim or snorkel, you can partake in the well-stocked bar or order a wood-fired pizza.
Kids under seven aren’t allowed on Cloud 9, and you should be aware that things tend to get rowdy here as the days wears on with international DJs spinning dance tunes and vacation mode spinning into full effect.
Hike into Fiji’s Spectacular Hinterlands with Talanoa Treks
Take a break from the beach life for a day trip or even a multi-day into Fiji’s remote interior with the island’s only dedicated trekking company, Talanoa Treks. Based in Suva, the sustainably-minded company aims to provide guests with authentic village experiences while enjoying dramatic landscapes that most visitors to Fiji never lay eyes on.
If you have the time, it’s worth heading out for three nights and four days on the Cross Highland Hike, a route that takes in grassy hills, riverside trails and forests for a look at the Fiji only locals know. There are stops to swim in rivers, village visits and overnights in a comfortable lodge and village along the way.
The most popular day trip is to Nabalesere Waterfall and the historic Wailotua cave, known for its stalactites that are said to resemble snake heads.