Recommended routes Fiji Islands
Most visitors spend most of their stay (7-10 days) on the large island of Viti Levu, often with one or more days in addition on one or other of the small islands of the Mamanucas archipelagos and / or Yasawas. Any other goal will necessarily mean having more time at your disposal.
Nandi (Nadi) and its surroundings
It is at Nandi International Airport that we land. From here, too, that we reach the main tourist sectors of the island, installed at the very gates of the city, to Port Denarau (a seaside enclave made up exclusively of large hotels) and, beyond, along the Coral Coast (Sigatoka to Pacific Harbor), home to some of Fiji's best beaches.
Nandi is not a very beautiful city, but it deserves to hang out a bit to breathe in its cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Indian minority is very important here, as evidenced by the very colorful Sri Siva Subrahmaniya temple (No photography allowed). Nandi is also synonymous with shopping. From there, then, we go up to walk towards the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, a pretty tropical garden spread out at the foot of the mountain of the same name. Relatives Sabeto hots springs and mud pools are hot springs testifying to the remains of volcanic activity, where you can bathe in three pools of reputed therapeutic mud… Funny!
Half an hour north, Lautoka , The second largest city in the country, is the sugar capital of Fiji. It lives around its colossal distillery, of which you can visit the somewhat dated installations… Inland, the village of Abaca is the gateway to the Koroyanitu national park - a rare opportunity to be able to hike (with a guide) in this country where you have to show your white paws as soon as you leave the coast.
Further north, a track leads to the extraordinary village of Navala, where some 200 traditional bamboo huts and palm roofs line up. More than a decor, a choice of the villagers and their chief to anchor themselves in the custom.
The Coral Coast
South-west of Viti Levu, the natadola beach is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the country. Best of all, the area lends itself well to surfing and diving.
A little further, the large village of Sigatoka is established on the edge of Sigatoka Sand Dunes Park, a beautiful area of dunes largely covered by vegetation, mahogany forest and immense beach. From Sigatoka, you can take a track up the valley of the beautiful eponymous river to visit (4 km) the Tavuni Hill Fort. This ancient fortified village overlooking the water point can be discovered during a fascinating guided tour. The opportunity to learn more about cannibalistic customs!
East of Sigatoka, the coastline unfolds in successive valleys covered with particularly dense vegetation. The area is superb and, from time to time, more or less chic seaside resorts invite you to forget about it for a few days.
The Pacific coast
This is what the south-eastern coastline of Viti Levu is called, stretched between Pacific Harbor and Suva. Pacific harbor is a tourist resort created from scratch, with golf, Arts Village (shows and cultural demonstrations) and appropriate services. However, it constitutes a good base from which to explore Beqa Island, the big little island that floats offshore (great for kayaking). Another possible stopover in the lagoon, Yanuca Island is famous for its surf spots and beautiful beaches.
We finally reach the estuary of the broad Navua river. The villagers living upstream take it down by canoe or bilibili (bamboo raft) to come and sell their products at the market. You can also go up it by boat to discover its gorges drowned in vegetation; a stopover in a traditional village is often planned.
A little further east, don't miss the Fiji Spice Gardens, a charming spice plantation where you can buy vanilla and nutmeg for three dollars six cents.
The Fijian capital stretches along the wettest coast of Viti Levu. His heart beats between the big market from the seafront - nicely underlined by flamboyant - and Victoria parade, the main street, where the most beautiful colonial buildings of the island line up (town hall, library, recently reopened Grand Pacific Hotel). It is important not to miss the Fiji Museum, custodian of the country's finest ancient objects - including war clubs, tabua (sperm whale teeth, symbols of power), masi (tapa) clothing, etc. It establishes itself in the beautiful Thurston Gardens. If you are lucky enough to be there at the right time (every end of the month), the changing of the guard, in front of the Presidential Palace (Government House) is well worth a look. The soldiers are dressed in an English red jacket, a white loincloth and sandals!
At the gates of Suva, the Colo-i-Suva National Park (245 ha) lets discover its beautiful mahogany forest and its waterfalls along a 6,5 km trail.
The road that circles Viti Levu from the north bears this name, as opposed to the Queen's Highway which runs along the southern coast.
A short detour will take you to the very discreet site of Molituva, built on the model of a Fijian village of yesteryear, with its 18 m high Kalou bure (temple), all in wood and palm trees. Superb! However, you will have to sacrifice, first of all, to the custom of sevusevu (a chef's gift), the opportunity to taste yaqona (kava)!
The north coast is much less visited. Yet there is the beautiful little island of Nananu-i-Ra, backpacker bastion ideal to forget a few days - or, for those looking for more luxury, the superb Wananavu Resort opposite.
The Mamanucas archipelago
Closest to Nandi, the archipelago consists of around fifteen small islands - although Mana is a bit larger. Paradise islands, mostly low, alternating carpets of fine sand, coves with turquoise waters and coconut palms. It's a little the garden of fiji, the first destination for day trips, served every day by the rounds of boats. Almost all the islands are home to hotel (s) and / or seaside resort (s), some ultra upscale, joined by helicopter or seaplane, others on the contrary good-natured, frequented by young Australians and Neo Zealander, with dormitories and parties every night (among them the famous Beachcomber). The ultimate: romantic dinners on the sandbanks barely protruding from the water!
The Yasawa Archipelago
Extending the Mamanucas to the north, the Yasawas line up 7 main islands, high, simply magnificent with their rocky peaks and their heavy mantle of vegetation. Most are home to Fijian villages, which were closed to foreigners until 1987. Shortly after, The Blue Lagoon was filmed there (with Brooke Shields), ensuring their fame for decades to come. Several luxury resorts have been established there, but there are also simple community hotels inviting you to take it easy. To keep busy, nothing simple: swimming, diving, snorkelling, exploring sea caves.
Rather classified among the number of small islands (106 km² anyway), Ovalau is anchored opposite the eastern coast of Viti Levu. This very rugged volcanic land, flagship of the Lomaiviti archipelago, is home to some 9 inhabitants. Many of them reside in Levuka, which was the first capital of Fiji under British colonization, from 1874 to 1882. A hub of maritime trade from the 1830s, it was then a shady port where copra planters, mutinous sailors, missionaries, whalers and other adventurers coexisted. in search of freedom. Churches and colonial buildings candied in their own juice testify to this almost forgotten slice of history, like the local museum.
The second largest island of Fiji (5587 km²) is still largely covered by the forest and by vast sugar cane plantations. The ferries drop in the port of Savusavu, nestled on the vast bay of the same name, between a pleasant marina, the old Planter's Club and coasts carpeted with coconut palms. You can visit the J Hunter pearl farm or attend the diving school founded by Jean-Michel Cousteau. Further on, the waves carved out the rocky coast, forming blowholes : holes in which the waves rush to form a kind of geysers.
In the interior, the Waisali Rainforest Reserve encompasses a vast area of tropical rainforest where large kauris grow and live around twenty species of birds, some of which are rare and endemic.
From Savusavu, buses lead to Labasa, on the north coast, where everything revolves around sugar. Beyond, Vanua Levu is the cantor of the "real Fiji", with its scattered villages forgotten by the time where the custom is respected with fervor.
South of Vanua Levu, Taveuni is often referred to as "The garden island" for its beauty and luxuriance. We could also call it “the island of good living”.
The rhythm slows down here and everything invites you to take life on the safe side: the waterfalls and the natural bathtubs of the Bouma National Heritage Park, which protects 80% of the island's surface area, its white and black sand beaches, schools of fish fluttering on the reefs of the Waitabu Marine Reserve and Vuna Reef, flowers everywhere, the song of endemic birds (more than a hundred listed species) ...
For fun, check out the sign indicating the date line, which cuts the island in two: ideal for a souvenir photo with one foot in each day!
Long distance surfers love it. Floating far south of Viti Levu, Kadavu has little to envy Taveuni in terms of tropical beauty, and moored within easy reach of some of the Fijian Islands' finest breaks. But it is the diving that attracts visitors above all: Kadavu faces the largest reef in Fiji, the Great Astrolabe Reef, which is about a hundred kilometers long. Manta rays meet at Manta Reef and pelagic fish around the Spot X nature reserve.
Far from it all, the sixty or so small islands of the Lau archipelago are only served by a weekly flight from Fiji Link (serving the island of Vanuabalavu) and a monthly boat - and again, when it wants to arrive on time. to restock grocery stores ...
Very little open to tourism, the Lau are culturally distinguished: their inhabitants are there Polynesians and historically linked to Tongans. Still, here too, everything is governed by custom, the omnipotence of the leaders and the time that does not count.
Further afield, Rotuma is located more than 500 km north of Viti Levu. Benefiting from a special status, this volcanic island 43 km² is also predominantly Polynesian culture. Only around 2000 people live there. Beaches and reef They are said to be of rare beauty - but rarely seen! The only option to stay here: the homestay (homestay), organized through a contact from the island, or through the tourist office in Suva.