Fiji, set in the tropical South Pacific, is made up of 333 islands and more than 500 islets; some are inhabited; most are not. Fiji’s islands cover an area of 75,000 square miles. The two major islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.
Accommodations in the Fiji islands can be found in a wide range of prices, from very upscale hotels and resorts to mid-range hotels (individual bungalow-style units called “bures” are common, some placed over the water), as well as budget choices like hostels and camping facilities. Stays on luxury private island resorts will be all-inclusive. Where I stayed: Viti Levu: Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa; Vanua Levu: Koro Sun Resort and Namale Resort; Vomo Island Resort (a private island in the Mamanuca chain of islands).
Scuba diving and snorkeling, beach and watersports (surfing, waterskiing), cultural tours, including nature tours, visits to traditional villages (sometimes including the traditional kava ceremony) and the J. Hunter pearl farm.
The best beaches in Fiji can be found in the islands of the Mamanuca and Yasawa island chains. Vomo Island’s white sand beach is one idyllic example. The beaches along the 50-mile Coral Coast, between Nadi and Suva, are said to be the best to be found on the main island of Viti Levu.
Food and Drink
The national dish of Fiji is kokoda, raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice and combined with coconut milk and vegetables, similar to Tahiti’s poisson cru. Local Fijian dishes include ingredients such as fish, rice, taro, sweet potatoes, coconut, cassava and breadfruit. Fiji’s national drink is kava, prepared by pounding the root in a wooden bowl, then mixing it with water. It produces a sedating drink primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity.
Airport code: NAN (Nadi International Airport) Visitors arrive on the main island of Viti Levu, then take fast ferries or inter-island flights to other islands. Direct flights from U.S.: Los Angeles (LAX).
The Fiji island group is about 2,775 miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii, and 1,100 miles north of New Zealand in the South Pacific.
You’ll encounter gentle, friendly people who are genuinely interested in sharing their culture and the beauty that surrounds them. I was touched by the sincerity and warmth shown by many of the islanders I met in Fiji.
Tourism Board Website: www.fiji.travel
Having a spa treatment. Wherever you are in the Fiji Islands and whatever type of treatment you choose, your spa experience will be one to remember. (Read the first paragraph of my article below for one of my most unforgettable ones, lying on a giant banana leaf!)
Witnessing a kava ceremony, often accompanied by guitar playing and singing. Pass the bowl or give it a try; it’s up to you.
Attending a traditional Fijian meke – a combination of dance and storytelling through song. Their voices and performances will stay with you long after you leave Fiji. The song, Isa Lei, is especially haunting and memorable.
Scuba diving or snorkeling — The underwater world surrounding the Fiji Islands is teeming with colorful life. Reefs are healthy and many fish species are different than those found in Caribbean and Atlantic waters.
Visiting a pearl farm — J. Hunter Pearls in Vanua Levu is Fiji’s only commercial pearl farm. Visit to learn how they are cultivated in a rainbow of colors, unlike Tahitian pearls, which are black or shades of grey. (Read more in my sidebar article, included in the PDF link below.)
A traveler visits beautiful resorts featured on ‘The Bachelorette,’ and finds that there’s plenty to love
FIJI — I’m lying on a giant banana leaf in the middle of the Fijian rain forest. My masseuse at Koro Sun Resort’s Rainforest Spa has scrubbed my body with natural botanical ingredients designed to help weary travelers like me recover from jet lag. Next, I am covered with another banana leaf and wrapped in soft cloths, allowing the minerals and nutrients to penetrate into my skin. Cocooned like a butterfly, I am soon ready to be reborn.
I am in Fiji following in the footsteps of The Bachelorette. No, a fiance with a diamond ring won’t reward me in the end. But my trip to this tropical South Pacific paradise includes resorts chosen by ABC-TV as backdrops for the final episodes of the reality show’s seventh season (“starring” Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum).
Read the rest of the article by opening a PDF of my article, published in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (also includes secondary article, “It takes great patience to farm Fiji pearls” at bottom of page): FijiArticles
One of the first pieces of jewelry I recall wearing as a child was a cultured-pearl necklace — a strand of small, off-white pearls saved for special occasions. Years later, I became fascinated with the black pearls of Polynesia, as I read about the pearl farms of Manihi, an atoll near Tahiti, and drooled over the jewelry made from these carefully cultivated creations. After many years, I was in another part of the South Pacific, about to take a behind-the-scenes tour of Fiji’s only commercial pearl farm, J. Hunter Pearls, located on Savusavu Bay, on the island of Vanua Levu…
Read the rest of the article by scrolling to the bottom of the page of the PDF.