It’s the age old question mums and dads everywhere ponder: is Fiji or Vanuatu better for families? When it comes to picking between these two tropical island escapes, there is no wrong choice. Beautiful islands with sparkling blue seas and a South Pacific cultural immersion is guaranteed. So here’s a guide to help you decide which spot offers the best beach holiday experience for your family.
Fiji is home to 333 palm-fringed islands boasting white sandy beaches, pristine rainforest and spectacular reefs beneath clear blue waters. A long-loved South Pacific gem, its popularity means the local tourism infrastructure is well developed and family holidays are well catered to. That means family-friendly resorts, kids’ clubs, nanny services and activities for children are easy to find, and package holidays to Fiji are the norm.
Despite this, the local islander culture is as vibrant and inviting as ever. Home to a fascinating blend of Pacific, Indian, Asian and European influences, the first thing you’ll notice is their smile! Fijians are incredibly warm and friendly. Better yet, it’s just a 3.5-hour flight from Brisbane, so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep the kids entertained for the flight!
All flights to Fiji will take you straight to Vitu Levu, the main island. There’s tonnes to do here so don’t flee straight away! Take the family for a hike through the unique Sigatoka Sand Dunes, or wind your way through native forest, archaeological sites and waterfalls in the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park. If you have teenagers, you could even tackle the 5-hour return trip to the summit of Mt Batilamu! Otherwise take them surfing along the Coral Coast. But for more cultural encounters, don’t miss the colourful and bustling Nadi market, or a trip to Navala Village to admire the thatched bures, witness a traditional Kava welcome ceremony and enjoy an authentic Fijian lunch.
If you like the sound of resort life, Denarau Island – which is actually part of Vitu Levu – is the place to go. Home to some of the best resorts, restaurants and shops, it’s also full of activities like golf, tennis, swimming and water sports, as well as fantastic kids’ clubs. A trip to Fiji isn’t complete without venturing off to at least one of the smaller islands though. Island hop your way from beach to beach, or spend a few nights somewhere quiet and secluded. The kids are sure to love the sound of Treasure Island and Castaway Island! Wherever you go, fabulous swimming and snorkelling are never far away in the “soft coral capital of the world”.
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Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands scattered through the azure waters between New Caledonia and Fiji. Beyond the beautiful reefs and rugged coastline, you’ll discover a lush green countryside, active volcanoes, and towns and villages steeped in tradition. With just under a third of the population of Fiji, Vanuatu is smaller and less commercial, so has more of the low key chill factor if that’s what you’re looking for.
Wherever you go in Vanuatu, the French influence is profound and the locals unbelievably welcoming and hospitable. It’s easy to find family-friendly resorts, activities and local nannies. If you’re looking for the closest possible escape, Vanuatu is just under 3 hours from Brisbane, so a zippy flight away!
The best place for families to stay in Vanuatu is on the main island of Efate, as this is the easiest spot to find family-friendly resorts and facilities. The obvious spot here is bustling Port Vila, which is still local, friendly and beautiful despite being the capital. This is where you’ll find tonnes of hotels and resorts, activities to keep the whole family busy and restaurants with fabulous views. Food prices are on par with Australia here though, so keep an eye out for any free children’s meals. While in town, don’t miss the lively Vila Market, the stunning Mele Cascades waterfalls, or the Ekasup Cultural Village for a glimpse of traditional village life through music, dancing and colourful costumes. The green, relaxing paradise of Iririki Island is also just a 3 minute ferry ride away!
For exciting adventures to Vanuatu’s other top islands, especially for older children, it’s easy to arrange day trips and tours from your resort and in town. Head to Tanna Island to explore the incredible landscapes of the active Mount Yasur – it’s one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes! If you’re around on a Saturday, don’t miss the amazing, renowned land-diving ritual on Pentecost Island. And for the best snorkelling and diving, Espiritu Santo’s pristine waters and colourful sea life are outstanding – you’ll also discover the sunken SS President Coolidge wreck here. Everywhere around Vanuatu culture and beautiful beach life is easy to find.
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