The mere mention of this South Pacific paradise invokes the warm embrace of summer, that famous Fijian hospitality and the kind of holiday bliss that can only be perfected amid swaying palms, brilliant blue seas and squeaky silica sand. Paths to paradise cross one-another, where technicolour underwater worlds nudge beachfront infinity pools and lush inland valleys. Fiji promises barefoot luxuries, languid, sun-soaked spoils and above all else, the tropical holiday of a lifetime.
No doubt you'll begin your island adventures on the main island of Viti Levu, the largest of all Fiji's isles and home to capital Suva and transit hub Nadi (pronounced Nandi). Busy city streets and beachfront resorts are aplenty, but you'll find many gems beyond the shoreline. Towel off and venture inland to Sigatoka, Fiji's 'salad bowl', to discover local life amid a fertile valley abundant with crops. There is no shortage of tours to join, whether you're traipsing through the Naihehe Cave, visiting plantations, meeting locals or high-fiving kids at primary schools.
Fijian flavours are mostly influenced by the sea, accompanied by staples such as coconut, root vegetables and rice. Leave the diet at the door to feast on a fresh array of carb-laden island delights. Of course, you must try the ubiquitous kava, a root-based vegetable drink that makes your lips tingle as part of a famous kava ceremony. Also, no trip to Fiji is complete without trying kokoda, a local fish salad 'cooked' in lime juice and served with onions, tomatoes and coconut cream. From high-end hotels to shanty towns, you'll find this revered dish no matter where you choose to dine.
Fiji isn't quite a shopping mecca, especially if you're seeking brand name bargains. Instead, put those holiday dollars to use in the form of pampering. All the top resorts right across the archipelago feature day spas renowned for their restorative services. These spas are often destinations in themselves, luring weary travellers with intoxicating lotions and potions and the promise of therapeutic indulgences. Take a break from the sun and surrender yourself to the expert hands of qualified therapists as you sink away into a heavenly world of bliss. Think polishing body scrubs and relaxing massages beneath thatched huts by the beach.
Holidaymakers may consider Fiji's best asset its penchant for languid beachside spoils, but keen adventurers know its true drawcard is the world below the surface. Divers and snorkellers revel in dazzling coral reefs, fascinating wrecks and over 1,500 species of marine life, from minute rainbow fish to colossal manta rays. The Mamanuca group of islands is primed for underwater explorations; on the outer edge of the Pacific Ocean divers will find the Barrier Reef where visibility can exceed a crystal-clear 35 metres. Expect to swim among turtles at Barrel Heads, while just 10 kilometres off the coast of the Mamanuca resorts, The Supermarket is renowned for its grey-, white- and black-tip reef shark encounters.
They say that life in Fiji revolves around church, the garden, the village and the rugby field. Leave the sunny shores, if only for a few hours, for a true Fijian experience: a rugby game. The sport is practically a religion here and it costs nothing to watch a local game – just ask your concierge where the local field is.
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