Fiji, officially the Republic of the Fiji Islands, occupies an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited and 522 islets. The two major islands of Fiji are Viti Levu and Vana Levu. Earlier known as the Cannibal Isles, Fiji was carefully avoided by mariners during the days of sailing ships mainly because of its fierce warriors and treacherous waters.
However, today Fiji is an exotic destination and central hub of the South Pacific. More than 85 flights land at Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu every week. From there it is only a quick seven minute hop to one of the offshore Fiji resorts, or less than an hour of flying time to Vanua Levu or Taveuni, the second and third largest islands. Check out a typical Fiji vacation.
Fiji holiday is a memorable experience to any visitor, with virgin grasslands and tropical rainforests unharmed by masses, and ruins of a fascinating pre-European war hill fortification. Wander through the colonial town that has changed little in over 150 years. There is much to do and see for those who want to come and experience a Fiji holiday, its beauty, culture and people.
Viti Levu: The biggest island Viti Levu (pronounced Vee-tee Lay-vu) offers a wealth of scenery that includes rushing mountain rivers, tropical rainforests, beautiful inlands, sugarcane fields and exotic beaches where you can see abundant tourists hooked into fishing. Viti Levu or Great Fiji is the largest and most populated of Fiji's 333 islands. Almost 70% of all Fiji inhabitants and over half the land mass of Fiji are located in Viti Levu. You can enjoy diving, fishing, hiking, camping and surfing at Viti Levu. The major tourist spots at Viti Levu Island are Nadi, Suva, Coral Coast and Mamanuca group.
Nadi: Nadi is the third largest city of Fiji and is the tourism capital of the Fiji islands. This city has the highest concentration of hotels and resorts owing to its proximity to the airport. Formerly a huge sugar growing community, Nadi is a hot, dry town that is mostly fueled by the tourism industry. Nadi town (along with Suva) is perhaps the best place in Fiji to pick up souvenirs. In addition there are good places to eat. Though the town may not appeal to everyone, the surrounding countryside is rolling and verdant, the beaches are relatively unpopulated, and the mountainous region (known as the Nausori Highlands) to the east is nothing short of spectacular.
Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple: With large Indian population, Nadi is a religious center for both Hindus and Muslims. The major place of worship for Hindus is the multi-chromatic new Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple on the east side of the town. The temple depicts the cultural and architectural diversity of the Fiji islands. Divided into three parts, this temple accommodates, Lord Muruga, Lord Ganesh and Meenakshi and Siva, all statues specially carved in India. The intricate craftsmanship of the individual statues within the temple is the work of eight craftsmen brought to Fiji from India. The temple depicts traditional Dravidian Architecture which is rarely seen outside India.
Nausori Highlands: Though the roads from Nadi to Nausori are tough and bumpy, the scenery at the highlands is well worth a drive and is the best spot in Fiji for a picnic lunch. The Nausori scenery begins with rolling hills studded with cane.. About 15 to 20 km inland you get into mountains, which tower over deep cleft valleys. Much of the land has been planted with Caribbean pine, a major export product. Deeper into the interior the landscape becomes more rugged, precipitous and wet.
Located adjacently, the two beaches of Wailoaloa and Newtown are the best spots for a picnic or a jog. From the Nadi airport, head south about five km and take right at Wailoaloa Rd to reach the Wailoaloa beach, where vast reach of sand stretches to your left and right. Continue to the right of Wailoaloa beach to reach the Newton's horizon (Beach).
Garden of the Sleeping Giant: Located about half an hour from Nadi, the Garden of Sleeping Giant is a beautiful orchid range started by the Late Hollywood actor Raymond (Perry Mason) Burr. Once the private collection of Burr, today with more than 30 to 40 varieties of Asian orchids, the gardens have developed into a popular tourist attraction.
The highlight of the garden tour however, is not just the orchids. Of equal interest is a meandering stroll on a canopy-covered boardwalk through gorgeous landscaped grounds, across lily ponds up to the edge of a densely vegetated jungle. Don't miss out Raymond Burr's holiday shack located in the garden. The shack contains his photographs, favorite chair and his walking cane. The entry to the garden is $10 while entry to Burr's shack is about $8.
No vacation to Fiji is complete without a visit to Suva - capital of Fiji and the largest city in the South Pacific. With array of café's around the city, Suva has become a bit café society. Besides nightclub and café's Suva is the best place for an avid shopper.
Municipal Market: Shopping spots at Suva include municipal market, where Polynesian, Chinese, Indian and Fijian vendors hawk fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, coconut oil and nearly everything else that a Fijian household might need. Apart, there is a section of new kiosks toward the bus station is the best place to try native 'Indian Sweets'.
Cumming St. is yet another shopper's paradise. It is known for its fine restaurants and duty-free shops. However, the street is crowded and narrow, reminding of a Paris or London back street.
Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve: A 20 minute drive from Suva will take you to the Colo-i-Suva Forest which offers about 6 km of trails throughout the rainforest. The area has several small waterfalls, indigenous flora, bird life, scenic lookouts.
Thurston Gardens and Fiji Museum: Located on Victoria Parade, Thurston Gardens contain a large collection of flora collected from throughout the South Pacific. Founded in 1913, the garden also accommodates the Fiji museum that holds remarkable collection of anthropological, historical and archeological materials dating back over 3,500 years. The museum has the finest collection of Fijian relics in the world. You can find the Masi Gallery, Indo-Fijian Gallery and the famous Art Gallery that contains the rotating exhibitions and collections of the local artists inside the Fiji museum.
The collections at the galleries includes war clubs, ivory necklaces, cannibal forks, spears, bowls, pottery, tools, cooking utensils, combs and a replica of a huge drua - an ancient, double-hulled canoe. The rear end of the museum is dedicated to the arrival of European and US sailing vessels, highlighting the bêche-de-mer, whaling and sandalwood eras.
There is also an exhibit illustrating the saga of the Indian indenture period and the infamous blackbirding trade that brought Micronesians and Melanesians to Fiji. There is a superb collection of old masi (tapa bark cloth) in an air-con room.
Coral Coast: One of the most preferred and popular destination of Viti Levu Island is the Coral Coast, especially due its proximity to Nadi. The Coast accommodates an ideal community – Sigatoka, situated at the mouth of the Sigatoka River. The town has excellent duty-free stores and it is much more pleasant to conduct business with Sigatoka's small-town merchants.
The attractions at the Coral Coast include the Sigatoka Sand Dunes near Kulukulu village which has a national park. Other points of interest in the area include the Tavuni Hill Fort, Sigatoka Valley Rd, the Momi Guns and Natadola Beach.
Mamanuca Group: The Mamanuca (pronounced mama-nutha) Group is one of the major tourist spot in Fiji. Located on the west coast of Viti Levu, the Mamanuca is a cluster of small islands that offers tourists a wonderful day out at the beach resorts. The island is famous for traditional and luxury beach resorts and diving.
The island houses the best of beaches in Fiji. Diving is the main activity of Mamanuca islands. Never mind if you are an amateur diver, you can take short diving courses from any of the local resorts. The islands are a good option for day drippers who can easily catch a boat at Denarau or take Sun Air's Shuttle.