The Fijian archipelago sits in the Pacific Ocean, 1,300 miles north east of New Zealand, and benefits from spectacular scenery, a temperate climate and friendly locals. The Fijian islands have something to offer everyone, you can stay in luxurious beach resorts, relax on spectacular beaches and enjoy the experience on a lifetime.
Find inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year in Fiji.
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Fiji is made up of over 300 islands, many of which are uninhabited but there is more to this country than just beaches. Fiji has tasty food, night-life, historic sites and activities including hiking, kayak, surfing and snorkelling. Expect high mountain peaks, diverse lush nature reserves, exotic wildlife and tranquil locations. These attributes draw visitors from across the world, and for a number of reasons; whether it’s for a relaxing holiday, a stop on a round the world stop off, a romantic getaway or general tourism.
Fiji really is a paradise and one of the most popular destinations on a round the trip, you might want to relax on tropical beaches or take part in adventure water sports. The remote location of Fiji makes flights quite expensive but you can get here from many worldwide international airports. The closest country to fly from is New Zealand which is approximately 2000km away.
Some must visit places include the rainforest, a local village, the Bouma National Park and a ride on the Navua river. Viti Levu and Vanua Levu is where the majority of the population live and which are the two biggest islands, the other islands have around 100 people living on them so are pretty deserted. Expect a great range of budget and luxury accommodation, amazing beach huts where you an walk out onto pristine beaches and go swimming in crystal clear ocean. If you’re ready to experience the adventure of a lifetime, search our meaningful travel opportunities.
According to Fijian myth, the original inhabitants of the archipelago were Chief Lutunasobasoba and his crew in 1500BC, who are said to have arrived from Tahanika in northern Egypt carrying treasures from the Temple of King Soloman. More likely, the original inhabitants were the Lapita people (likely from Vanuatu) who arrived around 1220 BC and called the islands Viti. Evidence suggests that they were only on the islands for a short amount of time before disappearing from the record.
Tongan invasions began by around AD 1000 and continued on and off until the arrival of Europeans in the early 19th century. Although Abel Tasman sailed past the islands in 1643, it was Captain James Cook who was the first European to stop at Fiji in 1774. Legend goes that Cook asked some Tongans what the name of the island group to their west was, and heard them say ‘Feegee’, their pronunciation of ‘Viti’. As a result, the name of the nation became Fiji due to an Englishman’s mishearing of a Tongan pronunciation.
Fiji is made up of 333 islands spread over 709,660 square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, but only about one third of the islands are inhabited by humans. This has made Fiji a getaway hotspot for reclusive millionaires after their own island. A case in point is Australian actor, Mel Gibson, who bought his own private island, Mago Island, from Japan’s Tokyo Corporation in 2005 for $15 million and now runs a cattle farm on the land.
In Fiji, it is the Queen of England who has the paramount chiefly title of ‘Tui Viti’ – the traditional name for the Queen of Fiji. After Fiji decided to become at republic in 1987, the Great Council of Chiefs gave Queen Elizabeth the honoured position and it is not uncommon to find her image in homes and businesses throughout the islands. That said, the title is purely symbolic and does not give the Queen any constitutional or legal power in Fiji.
Indeed, when it comes to leadership, Fijians have a strong respect for their cultural leaders and chiefs. For example, only the chiefs of the village is allowed to wear a hat, while one should never touch a Fijian chief on the head as it is seen as a declaration of war. Thomas Baker, a missionary, whose single shoe can still be found in the Fiji Museum, was killed by native Fijians where he accidentally touched a local chief on the head. In addition, always dress modestly when visiting a local village, and remember to respect Fijian customs.
Often called the “crossroads of the Pacific”, Fiji straddles the 180th meridian and is one of the first countries in the world to welcome the new day. The nation has a unique location because the 180th degree meridian line actually runs rights through the country’s archipelago territory. Were Fijians to follow the time of the 180th meridian, they would have two different calendar days in the same country; however the International Date Line was moved to the east, resulting in all islands using the same date and time, 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. From November through to February Fiji moves one hour ahead with its own daylight savings.
Fiji is an all year round destination but you might want to check travel updates around cyclone season which is from November to April. The hottest time of the year is usually around December to January where temperatures are regularly over 30 degrees. During this time you can expect some rain though as rainy season runs from around October - April. May to October is a dry period for Fiji making this one of the best times of the year to visit.
Thousands of tourists visit Fiji every year and this is generally a very safe country to visit, local people are very used to hosting tourists and will be very welcoming. The sun in this region of the world is extremely hot, you will need to pack accordingly and also take a good sunscreen whilst you might want to avoid drinking too much alcohol too, dehydration can be a problem due to the heat. Mosquitos carrying dengue fever is sometimes an issue, take a good insect repellent and also cover up your skin at night to prevent being bitten.
Each Yasawa island has its own characteristics and qualities. The island of Kuata is perfect if you are looking for a traditional Fijian experience. Taken on face value, Kuata doesn’t appear to offer much entertainment, however there are activities available that give a real taste of island life. Kuata is dominated by monolithic mountains, so climb through the forest and take in the spectacular panoramic views across the Pacific. Follow this with volleyball on the beach, or eat fresh watermelon with the locals. There is also the opportunity to learn how to create jewellery using natural materials and traditional methods. Evenings on the island are not to be missed; food is provided by the village and is usually in the form of a buffet serving a variety of traditional Fijian cuisine. On certain nights, the locals partake in cultural dance and encourage visitors to join in.
Manta Ray Island offers a different experience altogether. Situated in the ‘Blue Lagoon’ region of the archipelago, the island is visually stunning, with palm fringed beaches meeting colourful coral reefs. Diving and snorkelling are the main attractions here; the clear seas allow an unparralled insight of life in the ocean, with a variety of tropical fish and reef systems. The island derives its name from the manta ray, a species common to the surrounding waters depending on the season. When rays are spotted, the resort sounds a siren meaning a boat trip is departing to the area they are occupying. There is then the chance to swim with the rays, which can grow up to four metres in length. Be quick though as the boat doesn’t wait for long! In contrast with Kuata, the accommodation is a purpose built resort with dorm rooms, but it fits perfectly with the natural surroundings. The bar is set into the hillside, allowing visitors to admire the amazing sunsets whilst enjoying evening drinks.
With a reputation as the ‘party island’, Beachcomber contrasts completely with the calm of Kuata or Manta Ray. It is the ideal destination for a final get together as the island is geared towards ensuring people have a good time. It is also the place to go for water sports; try parasailing or gliding for fantastic aerial views of Fiji. However this is not the island for people who like their own space; the accommodation comprises of one huge dorm room that houses 100 guests so don’t expect a lot of sleep! Fiji has something for everyone, so plan your trip to incorporate the islands that best suit you. Whether you want to relax, party or increase your understanding of a different culture, the welcoming locals and beautiful environment make Fiji a unique experience.
Fiji is also a very laid back country to take a gap year in, and a lot slower paced than places, you could try to watch a local rugby game, enjoy some local culture or just recharge your batteries on this tropical paradise. You'll meet lots of other travelers in Fiji, even the larger two islands are relatively small and most people do the same bus route.
Fiji is made up of 322 islands each with its own cuisine, culture and identity and with One World 365 you book an amazing gap year experience. Our programs and backpacker trips are open to students, graduates, backpackers, career breaks or for anyone looking for a fun experience, read more information about options and start planning a trip today.
If you are looking to relax then Fiji is the gap year destination for you, there are also so many water sports and even marine conservation programs you can help. We have lots of Fiji gap year programs which are available to join all year round, these include island hopping trips and overland bus passes which allow you to explore the area. Fiji is a great country to go swimming or snorkelling, there is an abundance of marine life and coral reefs.
If you would like to experience a true paradise, meet friendly local people, learn more about the culture and tradition of the islands, relax on white sandy beaches, see blue lagoons and go swimming, snorkeling or diving in crystal clear waters then Fiji will appeal to you. Before you depart we recommend signing up to a trip or buying a flexible Fiji bus pass where you can join structured trips around the islands. There are lots of routes and its a hop on hop off experience so totally flexible to work around your plans. This is also a good way to meet new people, make friends and enjoy a really fun experience.
A couple of weeks is good amount of time to visit Fiji, there are lots of adventures you can book before departing for Fiji, these will allow you to travel in a group with others and see off the beaten track places. On Viti Levu and Vanua Levu you can take a bus tour or travel on public transport. There are guided companies which offer travelers a hop on hop off bus service around the islands. This is a daily service and connects most places of interest to visit, you can book this before departing. Viti Levu can take around 5 days to a week to see properly and there will be lots of ideas and cultural extras you can join.