When we bought our plane tickets to New Zealand, we knew we just have to go to one of these paradise islands of Oceania. We were considering Vanuatu or Fiji, finally deciding on that last one. We only had 4 days and we aimed at pure relaxation – in some truly unique place. It turned out that it’s not that easy and I had to spend dozens of hours searching the Internet for the perfect hotel… What is the problem with Fiji vacations?
Transfers during your Fiji vacations
When you go to Fiji for a short holidays, you have to remember one thing. If you choose to stay on any other island than the main Viti Levu (main airport in Nadi is located here), you will need boat transfers. Usually boats departure only once a day – which means that the first and last day of your Fiji vacations you gonna spend on Viti Levu. You’ll be extremely lucky to have your flight and boat transfers matching. For example, the famous Yasawa Flyer departures from the port of Denarau at 8.30 am toward Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands, visiting some smaller islands-resorts on it way. On the way back, it arrives to Denarau at 5.45 pm… We really didn’t want to spend time on transfers instead of lying on the beach 🙂 It takes over 4 hours to go to the most distant island by ferry!
Of course, you can take a hydroplane. The flight to Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands lasts only 30 minutes, but… it costs about 700 FJD (about 400 USD). Even if it is in your budget, you must remember that the hydroplane has its limitations (cyclones!) and in some places it may land only during the high tide… In conclusion – we knew we had to look for something on Viti Levu or nearby islands, which can be easily reached by the resort boat, at any time of the day. But which island will be perfect for your Fiji vacations?
Viti Levu – the main island
The most convenient choice is the main island – Viti Levu. It has both – budget-friendly and super luxurious accommodation as well. There are many hotel chains like Hilton, Sheraton and Marriott (you can even stay in the water villa at Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay) as well as many budget options – hostels or homestays. The vast majority of hotels is located on the south or west of the island.
Any issues? Some of them are not located on the reef – you have to pay extra for snorkeling or diving. Chain resorts are often very big, with a few hundred guests staying at the same time… Honestly, we were a bit afraid about this. After last year’s experience with the infamous Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, we are reluctant to stay in these big touristy hotels. With the price you pay for the night, you would like to feel somehow special, pampered and relaxed. It isn’t possible with the crowds of non-guests taking photos in the lobby while you’re trying to make your way to the elevator 😉
Surely the major advantage of Viti Levu is the variety of leisure options during your Fiji vacations. If you don’t like diving, you can go rafting in Upper Navua, explore the picturesque interior of the island, full of tropical forests and rivers with amazing waterfalls. It’s also a great opportunity to go to the villages and see how the inhabitants of Fiji live. If you dream of unbelievable luxuries, then you will find them also on Viti Levu – there is probably the most unique hotel in Fiji, Nanuku Auberge Resort. For only 5000 EUR per night, you can enjoy 500 sq. m villa with oceanfront infinity pool 😉 What a lovely idea for your Fiji vacation!
Tip: If you dive – the only decompression chamber in Fiji is located in Suva, in the south of Viti Levu.
Mamanucas – the most popular islands
Not far from Viti Levu, there are the islands of the Mamanucas archipelago. This is the most popular destination in Fiji. Do you recall all these pictures of white beaches, turquoise ocean and pristine blue sky advertising Fiji vacations? Yes, they were taken here. The archipelago consists of about 20 islands – both larger and smaller ones, mainly private islands.
Beachcomber Island is famous for its crazy parties, and in Likuliku you can stay in villas on water. On the uninhabited island of Monuriki, the Cast Away movie starring Tom Hanks was shot – you can go there for a day trip. Matamanoa, Malolo and Navini are the best islands for snorkeling – you can access the reef directly from the beach! Drawbacks? Some island resorts accept the so-called day-trippers so the beach may get crowded… It’s also hard to get any special interaction with Fijian culture (truly local, not “touristy” villages).
Tip: In the middle of the Malolo reef you may find… the Cloud 9 bar! A perfect break between dives 🙂
Here, just 30 minutes boat ride from Viti Levu we found our beloved piece of Fiji. Navini Island Resort – the smallest resort in Fiji, surrounded by absolutely wonderful reef sanctuary. There may be only up to 20 guests (no day-trippers!), and if you get bored with your private beach, go for complimentary daily trips to other reefs or islands. Paradise found!
Yasawas – the tropical getaway
The Yasawas archipelago was the movie set for another film – the Blue Lagoon. If you want to have a look at how these islands look like, just turn on the movie 😉 Located above the Mamanuca archipelago, Yasawas are considered more tropical and quieter, mainly because of the isolation. Diving with manta rays is a must here! The islands are also a perfect option for hiking-lovers. You can also immerse yourself in Sawa-i-Lau Cave. The island has a very large selection of accommodation for budget-friendly Fiji vacations!
Vanua Levu – the second largest island
It is the second largest island in Fiji, after Viti Levu. It is covered with mountains and not popular with tourists. There are mainly sugarcane plantations and coconut palms. If you are looking for empty beaches – this is your spot. There are not many resorts, but maybe it’s better? Thanks to that you can experience the truly wild nature of Fiji! Nearby Rainbow Reef is famous for its huge number of sea anemones.
In Savusavu you will also find the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort – the world’s best eco-friendly hotel. The hotel was founded by the son of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the most famous all-time diver. It has utopian assumptions – combining caring for local economy, protecting the environment and supporting responsible diving. How cool!
Taveuni – the third largest
Neighboring Taveuni is the third largest island of Fiji. It’s famous for the best trekking, spectacular waterfalls hidden in the wild tropical forest and the… black beach. From Taveuni you can easily get to the Rainbow Reef, and the nearby Qamea Island, considered as one of the best snorkelling spots in Fiji. There are not many places for backpackers, hotel prices start from 200 to 2000 EUR per night.
Kadavu – off-the-beaten path
Kadavu island is located on the south, “below” Viti Levu. This is another peaceful oasis for Fiji vacations, away from the most popular tourist spots. There is only one small town and several roads on the island. It’s a paradise for eco-lovers, the resorts on the island have their own gardens where they produce organic food… It’s also a great place to experience true Fijian culture, not in the tourist version. Near Kadavu, there is also one of the largest coral reefs in the world – Great Astrolabe Reef (manta rays!). Any issues? This island is located about 100 km from Viti Levu and you have to take a ferry departing from Suva once a week or just fly by plane!
Which island you gonna visit on your Fiji vacations?
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