Fiji is a country in the Pacific Ocean known for its beautiful beaches, resorts, islands and coral reefs. It consists of two major islands – Viti Levu and Vanua Levu – and more than 300 smaller islands (though only about 100 islands of Fiji are inhabited). With average temperatures of +23°C..+27°C throughout the year Fiji is a perfect destination for an island holiday!
Though with so many islands and places to choose for your stay it might get overwhelming when planning a trip to Fiji. You can make your holidays in Fiji as relaxed (beaches, spas, dining) or as active (snorkeling, hiking, fishing) as you want, depending on where you stay and what things you choose to do. In this post we are going to help you plan a perfect holiday in Fiji by answering two big questions – Where to stay? and What to do? (along with a few other commonly asked questions on travelling to Fiji).
What to do in Fiji?
First time Yuriy and I visited Fiji we opted in for a quiet holiday. I was about 6 months pregnant with our first child and therefore wasn’t ready to be super active 🙂 We stayed at The Warwick hotel at Coral Coast – the area that’s considered the most beautiful area of the island of Viti Levu. We spent a couple of days relaxing by the beach and pool, did a bit of snorkeling near the shore and took a one-day trip to Bounty Island. A nice relaxed holiday.
Second time we visited Fiji, we travelled with our boys (5 and 3 y.o. back then) and stayed at Radisson Blu Resort on Denarau Island. It was very convenient for entertaining the kids, walking around, dining at nearby cafes and visiting local attractions of Nadi. A great family holiday.
Now that the kids are not so young we plan to make our next visit to Fiji more adventurous. More snorkeling, kayaking and hiking, and spending a couple of days on either Yasawa islands or Mamanuka islands (or maybe even go island hopping!). A packed active holiday.
Fiji has lots to offer to any kind of traveller. Apart from spending time by the beach or pool, some of the popular things to do in Fiji are:
- Snorkeling and scuba diving. Warm waters, coral reefs and marine wildlife – Fiji islands are great for snorkeling and diving.
- Surfing. Whether you’re an experienced surfer or just want to learn how to surf, Fiji would be a perfect destination.
- Hiking. There are many places to hike in Fiji – rainforests, National Parks and peaks with great views.
- Cruises, boat tours and sailing. Explore Fiji by the sea – sail on a yacht, take a couple of days cruise, go on a fishing trip or take a ferry to hop from island to island.
- Honeymooning and romance. Fiji is a perfect setting for a wedding, honeymoon or simply couples retreat with plenty of adult-only resorts to choose from.
- Golfing. For golf lovers Fiji has many golf courses and resorts too.
- Spas. Fiji offers a wide range of spa treatment rooms and resorts.
- Kayaking and rafting. Kayaking is quite popular at calm shore waters of many Fiji islands, and there are few places for water rafting too.
- Food and dining. Fijian cuisine is rich in seafood, leafy vegetables, coconuts and curry – make sure you try some when visiting.
Next, I’m going to describe different areas of Fiji and what activities and types of holidays they’re better suited for.
Where to stay in Fiji?
When planning a holiday in Fiji, especially for the first time, it might be hard to choose which island to visit and where to stay. Different islands and areas of Fiji offer different experiences – from popular Denarau Island to secluded small private islands, each with its own pros and cons.
Unless you are travelling by yacht or a cruise ship, the first place you will visit in Fiji is Nadi International Airport (NAN) on the Viti Levu island. So, let’s start with Nadi.
Nadi (Viti Levu island)
Nadi is one of the largest towns in Fiji and is located on the main island of Viti Levu. Hence, staying in Nadi will give you access to supermarkets, restaurants and local attractions. Hotels in Nadi are usually more budget friendly than at remote smaller islands.
Port Denarau is not far away (15 min drive), which means lots of options for boat tours and water activities. Also nearby are Koroyanitu National Park with its hiking trails and waterfalls and Garden of the Sleeping Giant – gardens with native plants, orchids and nice landscapes.
Make sure to visit Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple in Nadi. For a small entry fee you can wander around the incredibly colourful rooms of the temple.
I wouldn’t advise staying in Nadi for the whole duration of your holiday, but I would recommend visiting at least some of its attractions.
Where to stay in Nadi:
Pros of staying in Nadi:
- Lots of activities and access to day trips and tourist attractions;
- Nearby shopping and restaurants;
- Close to the airport.
Cons of staying in Nadi:
- Not what you probably expect from an island holiday;
- No beautiful beaches with pristine blue waters in Nadi;
- Busy and noisy (compared to staying on a smaller island).
Denarau Island (Viti Levu island)
Not far from Nadi, Denarau Island is also located on the main island of Viti Levu. I know, it’s quite confusing – an island on an island! I’d say it’s rather a peninsula than an island, however the name is still Denarau Island.
Denarau Island is home to Port Denarau – the departure point of boat cruises, ferries and transfers to other Fiji islands. There is a huge golf course, a water park and plenty of cafes and restaurants on Denarau Island. Here, you will also find many luxury hotels and resorts. No wonder Denarau Island is a popular destination among holidayers in Fiji.
We stayed at Denarau Island at Radisson Blu Resort. They had lots of entertainment for children – great pool, kids club, special activities for kids, shows, game room. There was a small bus going to Port Denarau and back. But we also walked there when it wasn’t too hot outside, which took us about 25-30 mins (with small kids).
Nadi is only 10km away – easy for a one day trip to see its attractions. One time we took a taxi to Nadi and spent a couple of hours visiting Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, local produce market and a handicraft market. To get back to the hotel we just used a local bus, it runs regularly and it’s only a short walk from its stop at Denarau Island to the hotel.
Where to stay in Denarau Island:
Pros of staying in Denarau Island:
- Easy access to boat tours, cruises and water activities (snorkeling, diving, fishing);
- Close enough to the main attractions of Nadi;
- Great choice of hotels and resorts;
- Good for dining out with lots of cafes and restaurants;
- Great for golf-players;
- Close to the airport.
Cons of staying in Denarau Island:
- It’s a bit touristy and busy;
- No beautiful beaches with pristine blue waters.
Coral Coast (Viti Levu island)
Coral Coast is also located on the main island of Viti Levu. It’s a coastline in the south part of the island between Sigatoka and Suva. As the name suggests there are many corals and coral reefs along the coast. There are many hotels and for different budgets on the Coral Coast.
We stayed at The Warwick hotel at Coral Coast, just under 2 hours drive from Nadi airport. The beach was beautiful and there were many colorful fishes and other marine life in the shallow waters. We could snorkel just off the shore!
For a great diving experience go to Pacific Harbour and Beqa Island in the Coral Coast. Beqa Lagoon is rich in marine life and corals and is one of the best places to go diving in Fiji. If you dare to dive with sharks, head to Shark Reef Marine Reserve off the Pacific Harbour coast.
Staying at Coral Coast is also great if you want to experience rafting on Navua River, among the scenic gorges and waterfalls.
Where to stay in Coral Coast:
Pros of staying at Coral Coast:
- Great for snorkeling and diving;
- Great choices of hotels and resorts on the beach;
- Beautiful beaches and coastline;
- Great for golf-players if staying at Pacific Harbour;
- Close to adventurous activities such as rifting.
Cons of staying at Coral Coast:
- Long drive from Nadi Airport (2h40m to Pacific Harbour);
- Not many options for dining and shopping outside of the hotel;
- Corals on the beach may not be the best option if staying with children (make sure to wear special water shoes to protect your feet from corals and shells).
If you want a true island holiday with tortoise colored water and picture perfect bungalows by the beach you need to head to Fiji’s smaller islands. A group of Mamanuca Islands is a perfect destination for a relaxed and luxury holiday in Fiji.
To get to Mamanuca Islands you will need to take a ferry or a water taxi from Port Denarau. Alternatively, you can get there by plane or a helicopter departing from Nadi domestic terminal.
There are about 20 islands in the Mamanuca island group, but not all of them are inhabited and have resorts. Moreover, some of the smaller islands get covered with water during high tides. One of the most famous islands there is Monuriki – this is where the movie ‘Cast Away’ with Tom Hanks was filmed.
Staying at one of the Mamanuca Islands is great for relaxation, luxury holiday, beautiful beaches and oceanscapes. Some of the resorts there are ‘adults only’, and therefore are not suitable for staying with kids, but great for honeymooning and romance.
There are many reefs around Mamanuca Islands, which means great diving! So, if diving is on your list while in Fiji then Mamanuca Islands is a great choice for your holidays. They have some very gentle lagoons suitable for inexperienced divers and diving with children (older than 10-12 years old). For younger children there is also an option to snorkel in shallow waters near the shore.
Mamanuca Island is also perfect for surfers! It’s one of the most popular destinations in Fiji for surfing at reef breaks. There are several surf resorts at Mamanuca Islands where you can stay for the best surfing experience (and for ease of organising a boat transport to reef breaks).
Where to stay at Mamanuca Islands:
Pros of staying at Mamanuca Islands:
- Great for relaxing holidays;
- Picture perfect island vacation;
- Great for snorkeling, diving and surfing;
- Beautiful views, beaches and oceanscapes;
- Often hotels are all-inclusive, so no need to worry about dining options (though that also may be considered as Cons).
Cons of staying at Mamanuca Islands:
- Long and expensive transfers (taxi to Denarau and then a boat from there, or even more expensive transfer by air);
- Often hotels have overpriced meals as there are no other options for dining;
- In general, staying on an island tends to be more expensive.
Located a bit further away from the main island (and hence from Nadi Airport) is another group of beautiful and picture perfect islands – Yasawa Islands. Yasawa Islands are located north of Viti Levu and it takes 3 to 5 hrs (depending on boat and departure point – Denarau or Lautoka Wharf) to get to the northernmost island of the group.
There are about 20 islands in the Yasawa Islands group. Yasawa Islands feature beautiful beaches with pristine waters, stunning landscapes with volcanic peaks and rich marine nature.
Like Mamanuca Islands, Yasawa Islands are great for diving, snorkeling, kayaking and surfing. But there are also many tracks and trails in Yasawa Islands – great for walking and enjoying some of the stunning views from the hill tops.
Range of hotels vary from luxury to budget-friendly homestays. Same with the range of things to do in Yasawa Islands – from relaxing on a beach or spa resort, to hiking, kayaking and other active time spending. There are some local villages that you can visit or stay in to meet the locals and learn about the island culture.
Where to stay at Yasawa Islands:
Pros of staying at Yasawa Islands:
- Great for a mix of relaxing + adventurous holidays;
- Picture perfect beaches, blue sea and coast lines;
- Great for snorkelling, diving, surfing and kayaking;
- Good for walking and hiking, and stunning views with volcanic tops;
- Hotels range from luxurious to budget-friendly home stays.
Cons of staying at Yasawa Islands:
- Long and expensive transfers from Nadi airport;
- Very limited options for dining, mostly in hotel restaurants (which often are overpriced);
- Costs of transfers, hotels, dining and activities add up making staying on the islands more expensive.
Suva (Viti Levu island)
A less popular but still an option when visiting Fiji is staying at Suva. Suva is the capital of Fiji and its largest city.
You wouldn’t find luxury beach side resorts in Suva, but if you want to see a real Fiji and not the touristy version of it then Suva is the place to go. You can visit Fiji museum in Suva to learn about local history and culture. Walk in the Thurston Gardens (botanic gardens) located right next to the museum. Check out local handicraft and produce markets.
There is a big National park near Suva – Colo-I-Suva Forest Park. Great for hiking, nature walks and cooling down at one of the waterfalls.
I wouldn’t stay in Suva for the whole duration of a holiday, but if you are staying at Coral Coast then I would recommend going to Suva for a one day trip.
Where to stay in Suva:
Pros of staying in Suva:
- Learn Fijian history and culture;
- Good for parks, museums, shopping and dining;
- See how modern Fijians live;
- Selection of budget-friendly hotels.
Cons of staying in Suva:
- Far from other Fiji attractions and island transfers;
- Not your typical island holiday;
- No beautiful beaches with pristine blue waters.
Is Fiji safe for tourists?
Fijians are perhaps the friendliest people we have ever met over the years of traveling and living in different countries! Everywhere in Fiji we felt welcomed, people were always super friendly and helpful whether it was in a hotel, at a local market or simply passers by on a street.
While Fiji is generally a safe place to travel, it’s always a good idea to follow common security guidelines. Such as, keep your wallet out of sight in busy areas and public transport, don’t leave valuables in your car, avoid walking alone at night, don’t leave luggage unattended at the airport, etc. Basically, just use your common sense! 🙂
What currency does Fiji use?
Fiji has its own currency called the Fijian Dollar (FJD). You can pay with a card in hotels and in major cities like Nadi and Suva. However, you will need cash if you’re planning to visit smaller villages, use taxis, go to local markets, etc.
What language do they speak in Fiji?
Fijians speak Fijian, Hindi and English. You wouldn’t have any issue speaking English in Fiji as the majority of Fijians speak English as a second language.
When is the best time to visit Fiji?
Average temperatures in Fiji varies from +23..+25°C (May to September) to +26..+27°C (October to April). Most rainy period is from October to April, and taking into account high average temperatures it’s not the most popular season to visit Fiji.
The best season to visit Fiji is considered from May to September – this is when it gets the least rain and the temperature is not too hot.
If you’re visiting Fiji between October and April nevertheless, consider staying in Yasawa Islands – they usually get less rain than the two main islands of Fiji and Mamanuca Islands.
Also keep in mind that many Australians and New Zealanders tend to visit Fiji around Christmas period – not only because of the holiday period, but to visit friends and relatives. Which means airfares and hotels might get less available and more expensive during this time.
I hope reading our post helped to plan your holiday in Fiji and answered ‘Where to stay?’ and ‘What to do?’ questions.
After Fiji, why not visit New Zealand? If you need some convincing, read our posts on 15 reasons to visit New Zealand’s North Island and 15 reasons to visit New Zealand’s South Island
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5 thoughts on “Holidays in Fiji – Where to stay and What to do”
I looked pretty close at Fiji a few years ago when we were trying to decide where to go to for our destination wedding. I remember there being so many different areas to choose from and it was a bit intimidating to plan. This great overview would have been very helpful then.
Perhaps, it will be helpful still when you plan your wedding anniversary gateway 😉
Thank you for this amazingly detailed post about Fiji. It isn’t a place that we knew very much about before reading this. It seems as though the islands really have something for everyone – whether you want an active or relaxing holiday.
This is very timely. Direct flights from Wellington – my home airport – with Fiji Airlines have just resumed. Every day I see that decorated plane flying over my house, and I think, wouldn’t it be nice to be on board and heading off for a sunshine holiday right now! I like the sound of the Coral Coast.
Great post – there is so much more than incredible South Pacific beaches to consider.