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The Ultimate Fijian Islands Travel Guide For 2024

Thinking about visiting the Fijian Islands in the South Pacific Ocean but unsure how to start planning your trip? I felt the same too! After my recent visit, I’m happy to say I learnt a lot about how to plan a trip to Fiji.

In this guide, I’m going to share with you everything I’ve learnt about how to have the best holiday in Fiji to suit all budgets and types of people. You see, I met a lot of people travelling the Fiji islands who just hadn’t done their research at all. Let me explain as best as I can about how you can make the most out of the Fijian experience.

You’ll learn how best to go island hopping in Fiji, which group of islands to visit, whether to stay in Nadi or Suva and everything you need to know about mobile phone sims, food, costs and much more.


Why visit Fiji?

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The Fiji Islands in the South Pacific Ocean are a popular destination for families, backpackers, single travellers and couples all wanting a bit of sunshine and relaxation. Most activities in this country revolve around the water, the incredible coral reefs, and pretty beaches, but there’s good reason why. With access for swimming with manta rays and sharks, it often attracts divers and snorkellers.

It’s relatively easy to get around and it’s the perfect destination for anyone wanting to simply relax on a picture perfect beach for a chilled out holiday. Catering for all budgets, Fiji offers something for everyone.


Super friendly locals

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The locals are so friendly, you’ll be greeted at the airport with a welcome song when you get off the plane.

It really surprised us when we were looking for the transfer bus to the ferry, locals stopped us to check if we knew where we were going. We automatically ignored them thinking they were touts trying to make us get in their taxi. They weren’t, they were simply there to help us.

It was refreshing to come to a country where people are still genuinely nice and not looking to cash in on you. Fijian locals are so friendly, that you’ll just love hearing them sing to new arrivals each day and giving the people leaving a good send off.


Feeling safe in Fiji

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Fiji is a really safe country. If you’re travelling by yourself (which many people do) or you’re with kids, Fiji is so set up for tourism, you won’t need to worry about feeling unsafe here. Most tourists stay within the resorts on the islands (there’s no other shops to go to), or if staying near Nadi airport, many people stay in Port Denarau island, which is a gated tourist complex.


When is the best time to visit the Fiji Islands?

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Visiting Fiji is a dream vacation for many, but choosing the right time to go can greatly enhance your experience. The best time to visit Fiji is generally during its dry season, which spans from May to October. During this period, you can expect sunny skies, lower humidity, and cooler temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as snorkeling, hiking, and beach lounging.

The dry season also coincides with the peak tourist season, so while the islands will be bustling, you’ll find that the fiji holiday atmosphere is festive and full of energy.

This is a great time to engage in cultural experiences like traditional Fijian dances and ceremonies, which are often more vibrant during this busy season. Water visibility for diving and snorkeling is excellent, sometimes exceeding 30 meters, allowing tourists to experience the rich marine biodiversity Fiji has to offer.

However, being peak season means that prices for accommodation and activities can be higher, so booking in advance is recommended. If you prefer a quieter experience and are willing to contend with some rain, the wet season from November to April might be more to your liking, although you’ll miss out on the optimal weather conditions.


Which islands to choose

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It took me a while to work out which Fijian islands to choose from. There are two main islands, Viti Levu (the country’s largest island where Nadi & Suva are located) and Vanua Levu, as well as Taveuni island and nearly 900 smaller islands and inlets.

The major islands people tend to holiday in are either the Yasawa Islands, Mamanuca Islands, Taveuni Island or Kadavu Island (for off the beaten path travellers), and Coral Coast and Port Denarau which are both located on the main island of Viti Levu (home to Nadi and Suva airports).

Most tourists fly into Nadi airport before going island hopping around the Mamanuca Islands or Yasawa Islands. This is probably the easiest way to get around Fiji.

The further you get away from the main islands, the more pristine the islands in Fiji will be.

This is what all of the tourists told us as well as a French guy who lives in Suva told us on the ferry. It makes sense when you think about how clear the water will be for diving and snorkelling vs nearby pollution.

You can however take day trips from Port Denarau or Coral Coast, and alternatively, you can book a multi-day cruise around the islands instead.

Let’s take a look at all of the island groups.


Port Denarau island

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We didn’t see a lot of Port Denarau but from what we did see, it’s like a gated community outside of the real Fiji. Our bus transfer drove us there 20 minutes from the airport to the ferry terminal, and it honestly felt like we could have been somewhere like Cairns. While it’s called Port Denarau Island, it’s technically still connected to the main island with a road connecting over to the area.

This is the area where you’ll find a lot of big luxury homes for Westerners, big luxury yachts and big resorts. Personally I don’t really see the advantage of staying here as there’s nothing Fijian about this area, and you could feel like you’re anywhere. But, you can do lots of day trips to other islands from here if you’d prefer to do different activities that a resort in the Yasawas or Mamanucas might not offer.

Best day trips from Port Denarau

Malamala Beach Club – Popular day trip to relax on a private island for the whole day in paradise

Cloud 9 Floating Platform – located in the Mamanuca Islands, this is the only floating platform in Fiji. Eat pizza and enjoy international bar selection while enjoying the incredible views.

Nadi Tivua Island Day Cruise – enjoy taking photos of the famous long jetty here on this pristine sandbar island. Trip includes snorkelling and a BBQ lunch

Day trip around Nadi – Includes mud pools, the famous Sleeping Giants Gardens, visit local markets and more.

Snorkel with manta-rays – Head on a day trip to Mantray Island and enjoy lunch on the island and snorkelling with manta rays in Fiji!

Snorkel with sharks in Fiji – This is a super popular day trip to snorkel with sharks near Kuata Island.

If jumping on a ferry seems like too much of a hassle, check out these resorts:

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Sheraton Resort
  • Sofitel Fiji Resort & SpaLuxury resort with a private beach, extensive spa, and multiple dining options. Best for those looking for a luxury experience with easy access to both land and sea activities.
  • Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island Family-friendly with multiple lagoon swimming pools and kid’s club. Best for families looking for a range of activities and accommodations that cater to children.
  • Sheraton Fiji ResortPart of a large resort complex, offering extensive amenities including golf courses and 10 dining options.
  • Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and SpaBeachfront villas, seven pools, and three restaurants.
  • Wyndham Resort Denarau IslandOffers spacious apartments for families, a swim-up bar, and cultural activities. Best for families or groups looking for a home-like experience with resort amenities.

Coral Coast

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While the Coral Coast offers the quintessential beach holiday, what sets it apart is the opportunity for authentic cultural experiences. Several traditional Fijian villages are dotted along the coast, providing visitors a unique chance to learn about local customs, partake in kava ceremonies, and witness traditional Fijian dances. This provides a richer, more meaningful travel experience compared to solely resort-based vacations in Port Denarau for example.

From river rafting in the nearby Navua River to zip-lining amidst lush canopies, the Coral Coast has something for everyone. Several resorts and accommodations range from budget-friendly to luxury, making it accessible for different types of travelers. Its location is also convenient, being relatively close to Nadi International Airport but far enough to escape the crowds.

How to get to the Coral Coast

It’s about a 1h30m drive from Nadi airport or 2h30m from Suva airport to get to the Coral Coast in Viti Levu.

Resorts to consider in the Coral Coast

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Yasawa Islands

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Yasawa Islands in Fiji are known for having the most pristine water conditions. They are really easy to get to and perfect for anyone wanting to go island hopping. Read our ultimate How To Go Island Hopping In Yasawa Islands Guide where we break absolutely everything down about which islands to visit, things to do, etc.

The best thing about these islands is there are budgets to suit everyone.

Think home stays, backpacker dorms, budget rooms, mid range room and luxury rooms and resorts, consisting of about 20 volcanic islands, and one Limestone island where the famous Sawa-i-Lau cave is located (read my experience at Sawa-i-Lau caves before you go).

Yasawa Islands are renowned for their crystalline waters, dazzling white sand beaches, and untouched natural beauty. Unlike the busy tourist hubs on Viti Levu, the Yasawa Islands offer a more secluded and peaceful experience. This makes them an ideal destination for honeymooners, couples, and any traveler seeking serenity.

With vibrant coral reefs and a diverse array of marine life, this is the island group to come to if you’re looking for the some of the best snorkelling and diving in Fiji. Traditional Fijian culture is very much alive in the Yasawas, providing an authentic experience that is increasingly hard to find.

How to get to Yasawa Islands

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Take note of the ferry times and islands above.

Getting to the Yasawas is relatively easy, with boat services running regularly from Nadi with South Sea Cruises, which runs once a day to and from the island groups. It leaves Port Denarau in Nadi at 8:45am and returns by 5:45pm. Although the main deck has aircon, book the Captains Lounge for free flowing bar, pastries and muffins. It’s just below top deck and has more room for you to chill out in.

If you’re island hopping, book the Bula Pass with Awesome Adventures so you can catch the ferry multiple times. Just make sure you book your islands in order of where they are to make it easier to get to (ie book closest island first, then work your way up to the top).

Alternatively, you can book a helicopter with Islands Hoppers. We saw people fly into our resort, Blue Lagoon on a daily basis.

Here are the main Yasawa Islands everyone raved about during our trip:

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  • Blue Lagoon Resort – We stayed here and loved it! Perfect for everyone with dorms and luxury beachfront villas (read our Blue Lagoon Resort review)
  • Barefoot Manta Island – Everyone loved this one for it’s laid back vibes and excellent snorkelling, perfect for everyone.
  • Barefoot Kuata Island – This island looked stunning, complete with the dancing warrior on the rock you’ll see every time the boat passes by. There are viewing platforms on the island to see him in action.
  • Manta Ray Island – Opposite Barefoot Manta and best for snorkelling with mantas that live in the bay
  • Octopus Island Resort – This is owned by the same people as Blue Lagoon Resort. We heard many people mention how nice this resort is.
  • Navutu Stars Resort – Luxury island away from it all!
  • Yasawa Island Resort – Furthest away resort in the Yasawa Islands, located near to Sawa-i-Lau cave and one of the top resorts in Fiji (price tag to match!).
  • Vomo Island Resort – Private island setting, all-inclusive packages, family-friendly and perfect for families and couples wanting a mix of luxury, activities, and relaxation.
  • Turtle Island – All inclusive private island resort for 14 couples only. Put this high on your list if you can splash out.
  • Waya LaiLai Resort – From the ferry ride, this is the one I was most drawn to. We didn’t meet anyone staying here but it looks sublime. With huge green mountains towering over the beach, it took my breath away both times we past it on the boat.

Mamanuca islands

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Malamala Beach Club

The Mamanuca islands are a chain of about 20 islands near Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, and near to Nadi airport.

One of the main draws of the Mamanuca Islands is their accessibility; they are easily reached by a short boat ride from Nadi. Home to some of Fiji’s most iconic resorts, many of which offer overwater bungalows for the ultimate in luxury and convenience.

You can even visit the island where they filmed ‘Cast Away’ with Tom Hanks and TV shows like Survivor are often filmed in the Mamanuca Islands. If you’re looking for a combination of convenience, luxury, and natural beauty, the Mamanuca Islands should be high on your list of places to visit in Fiji.

Bare in mind, when we spoke to other travellers who had visited the Mamanuca islands group, they said the water isn’t as clear as you’ll find in the Yasawa Islands because they are much closer to main island. This means if you’re keen on snorkelling or diving, head to Yasawa Islands instead. Also bare in mind, because most of these resorts are big, you might not get a proper Fijian experience as you would on some of the smaller islands up in the Yasawa’s.

How to get to the Mamanuca Islands

Jump on the Malolo Cat which runs four times a day from Port Denarau. Alternatively, book your ferry with South Sea Cruises. Alternatively, you can book a helicopter with Islands Hoppers.

Mamanuca islands to check out:

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Likuliku Lagoon Resort
  • Likuliku Lagoon ResortAdult’s only overwater bungalows, adults-only, Fijian-style architecture. Best for couples and honeymooners looking for a romantic and luxurious experience.
  • Mana Island Resort & SpaOffers a range of accommodation options from budget to luxury, spa facilities.Best for travellers looking for varied experiences; good for both families and couples.
  • Tadrai Island ResortFive-star, adults-only, and all-inclusive, featuring plunge pools in each villa. Best for couples seeking a more intimate, all-inclusive experience with a focus on privacy.
  • Castaway Island ResortFamily-friendly, traditional Fijian bungalows, excellent snorkelling opportunities. Best for families and adventure seekers looking to explore the natural beauty of the Mamanucas. FYI – this is NOT the island where the famous Cast Away movie was filmed. It was filmed on Modriki Island.
  • Beachcomber Island – the party island for backpackers. This is a legendary island, that’s been around since I came to the Fiji islands 20 years ago. Alcohol will be more expensive than other backpacker islands like South Sea or Mantaray, but if you’re keen on partying, this is your island to visit.

Taveuni Island

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Taveuni, is often referred to as the “Garden Island” which is closer to Vanua Levu. As Fiji’s third-largest island, it’s a paradise for adventure and nature lovers. The island is covered in lush rainforests, filled with exotic plants and wildlife, including a variety of bird species.

Home to the Bouma National Heritage Park, you can explore stunning waterfalls and hike through verdant jungles.

The famous Lavena Coastal Walk is another trekking option, leading you along the coastline to secluded sandy beaches.

Diving and snorkelling on Taveuini Island is just as impressive, with the Somosomo Strait offering world-class diving opportunities. The vibrant Rainbow Reef and the Great White Wall are must-see dive sites featuring rich coral gardens and diverse marine life.

With several villages dotted around the island, you can witness traditional dance, partake in kava ceremonies, and learn about local customs while immersing yourself into Fijian culture.

How to get to Taveuni Island

Most people fly to Taveuni from Nadi or Suva. You can take the passenger ferry which takes 14-16 hours from Suva.

Best places to stay in Taveuni Island

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COMO Laucala Island
  • COMO Laucala Island – One of the largest private island resorts in the world with just 25 villas. This is taking the idea of luxury all inclusive resorts to a whole new level with guests including Oprah Winfrey, Elle McPherson and more.
  • Aroha TaveuniOceanfront bure accommodations, proximity to dive sites, and a more intimate setting. Best for couples and adventure seekers looking for a mid-range budget option that still offers quality amenities and easy access to activities.

Kadavu Island

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We considered going to Kadavu Island which is a hidden gem in the Fijian archipelago, offering an unparalleled escape into nature and culture. It’s the type of place that’s off the beaten path that will give you a true sense of Fijian culture. If we were travelling, rather than holidaying, I would 100% head to this island in a heartbeat. It’s a must-visit for those wanting to experience Fiji at its most authentic.

Unlike more touristy destinations, Kadavu is minimally developed, allowing its natural beauty to shine through.

One of the primary attractions is the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, offering an underwater haven for snorkelers and divers alike.

The reef is teeming with vibrant corals and a rich diversity of marine life, including manta rays and turtles.

For those who prefer land-based activities, the island is covered in tropical rainforests, perfect for hiking and bird-watching. Kadavu is known for its endemic species, including the Kadavu parrot, making it a hot spot for eco-tourists. In addition to its natural wonders, the island offers a deep dive into traditional Fijian culture.

With limited influence from the outside world, the local villages maintain age-old traditions, giving visitors a unique opportunity to experience Kava ceremonies, traditional dances, and other cultural practices.

How to get to Kadavu Island

The easiest way to get to Kadavu Island is to fly here from Nadi airport which takes 40 minutes, or 30 minutes from Suva. The ferry departs from Walu Bay in Suva and takes around 7 hours leaving around 11pm.

Best places to stay on Kadavu Island

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Kokomo Private Island ResortUltra-luxurious villas, world-class diving facilities, and farm-to-table dining experiences.

MatavaFiji’s Premier Eco Adventure Resort focuses on eco-tourism, offering excellent diving and fishing excursions, and features traditional thatched bures. Best for adventure travellers and nature enthusiasts looking for an eco-friendly mid-range option.

Papageno ResortLaid-back atmosphere, beachfront bures, and a variety of activities including bird-watching and hiking. Best for travellers looking for a balanced mix of adventure and relaxation without the luxury price tag.


Tips to know before you go to Fiji’s islands

There are a few tips we have before you go to Fiji which we would have wanted to know. Here’s what we learnt.

Meal Package & alcohol costs

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When you book your accommodation, bare in mind, it probably won’t include the meal package on it cost. We paid for our accommodation, and then we received an email saying we had to pay for the meal package. I’ve heard people trying to pay less for those who eat twice a day, and unfortunately it’s a set cost which you can’t get out of. This is how most islands operate because you won’t find shops on any of the islands.

Double check whether the resorts have meal packages or a paying restaurant before you book so you can work out your costs. Meal packages can cost anywhere from $110 FJD to $160 FJD or more per person per night.

Our resort didn’t include drinks except tea and coffee. So you’ll need to pay for drinks on top and activities. For example, a Fiji Gold beer was $9 and a cocktail was $23 (approx $20 AUD) at Blue Lagoon Resort.

ATMs on the islands

Double check the island you are staying on takes credit cards. When I first came to Fiji, I had to carry all of the cash for the islands as none of them had credit card machines back then. We stayed at Blue Lagoon Resort this time and we could pay on card.

There is a WestPac ATM at Nadi airport but it charges $15FJD to take money out ($11AUD).

Time your flights to save staying in Nadi

We managed to find flights so that we landed in Nadi airport at 5:30am. When we booked our ferry transfer, it also includes a transfer from your hotel or airport in Nadi to Port Denarau to get onto the boat. The bus picked us up at Nadi airport at 7am, then we picked up other people from their resorts before heading straight for the ferry.

If you have time between arriving at the airport and jumping on the boat, get some food at Nadi airport at the cafe in arrivals. We didn’t have time to get any food between jumping on the bus transfer and ferry and ended up eating a packet of Pringles and a KitKat for breakfast.

On the way back, our flight was supposed to leave at 8:20pm, but our ferry was due to arrive at 5:45pm. With a 20 minute taxi ride to the airport, we wondered whether we would be cutting it fine. So we changed our flight to the following morning at 8:20am instead. I’m glad we did this because we would have been stressing the whole time on the ferry. By the time we got our bag off the ferry, it was 6:30pm. I think we would have been cutting it so fine to make it on the plane that night.

So we stayed at Club Fiji in Nadi for the night which really wasn’t great at all. This is the only downside to jumping on the ferry to the islands – you may have to waste a night of your holiday at a resort in Nadi for the night either end of your stay.

Be smart with the islands you choose for island hopping in Fiji

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As I said earlier in this Fiji travel guide, if you’re going island hopping around the Fiji islands, book the resorts in order of where they are located. This is only one ferry each day so make sure you book from closest to furthest away islands.

Bring a water bottle

We always carry our own water bottles when we travel (especially good for filling up at airports!). At Blue Lagoon Resort – and I’m sure other resorts will be the same – they had refilling stations for us to drink the filtered water. Fiji has some of the best water in the world, honestly our skin and hair felt so soft after taking a shower. Just don’t drink the tap water from your room and only brush your teeth with filtered water.

Wifi and Sim cards

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We very nearly bought a Sim card when we got into arrivals at Nadi with Vodafone (it’s apparently the better company), but we decided not to in the end because we wanted a digital detox which we just loved. The most popular sim is 175GB for $70FJD as we were told at the time of writing.

Our resort had wifi but it just wasn’t powerful enough to use. I’d get a few notifications through, but I couldn’t scroll on Instagram for example. We needed to download an app for our drone, so I had to get up before everyone else at 6am and wait an hour for it to download by the router in the restaurant.

Most popular nationalities visiting the Fiji islands

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We chatted with our taxi driver on the way back to Nadi airport on our final day and asked him about how busy tourism is right now. Almost all of the resorts were full at the time of visiting Fiji, and he explained by Christmas it would be so crowded. We asked him why and he said because more and more airlines are offering direct routes now.

The most popular nationalities to visit the Fiji islands are New Zealanders, followed by Australians and Americans. You see, with direct flights from all three countries, it’s no wonder it makes Fiji a desirable country to visit.


Fiji Time

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You’ll hear everyone say “it’s Fiji time”. Truth is, from what we saw, Fijians are super punctual. Tours leave on time and the ferry turns up on time as expected. I think maybe they mean Fiji time is to chill out and relax!


How much does a Fiji holiday cost?

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As the Fiji islands cater for all budgets, dorms can be really cheap, but you’ll end up spending at least $100 FJD a day on food which is usually a bit higher for most backpacker budgets. Activities on the island we stayed on were around $45 each, but you can find our total travel cost for a 6 night holiday on Our Honest Blue Lagoon Resort Review.


Read our other Fiji guides

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Looking for more inspiration to plan your trip to Fiji Islands? Check out other guides below to help you make the most of your trip:


Looking for more holiday destinations near Australia?

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Sumba Island

If you’re looking for more holiday destinations, check out our guides for visiting Bali and nearby Sumba Island in Indonesia:

32 Brutally Honest Tips For Visiting Bali For First-Timers

What Our 5 Day Sumba Island Itinerary Looked Like

14 Crucial Tips For How To Get Around Sumba Island, Indonesia


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