Cue the ukuleles and prepare the kava, I am taking you to Fiji.
Home to crystal clear waters, vibrant wildlife and the nicest people in the world, Fiji is comprised of more than 330 islands. We only made it to two during our three day Fiji getaway before traveling on to Australia, but I can safely say no matter which island you visit, you’ll leave with more than just a sunburn to remember it by.
After the Fijian welcome complete with a live folk music performance at the airport and a taxi ride turned tour of the island, you’ll arrive at the hotel. “Bula,” the doormen will exclaim as the country’s traditional welcome as you join the line of honeymooners and families waiting to check in.
We stayed at the Westin in Denarau — mainly because we’re slightly addicted to the Westin’s breakfast which is seriously unbeatable no matter where you are in the world. However, there are several hotels scattered around Denarau including the Sheraton and Raddison Blu. We walked around all three, so I feel confident saying that you’ll enjoy first class hospitality at all of them.
Given our short trip, we choose to stay close to the airport in Denarau and take a day trip to the outer islands. If we had more time, I would have definitely preferred to venture to a more secluded island and escape the tourist area.
Regardless of where you stay, you will likely want to dedicate the first day to relaxation and jet lag recovery. Grab your book, a cold drink and prop up next to the pool while you overlook the Pacific Ocean and scope out the islands in the distance for the next day’s adventure.
I wasn’t kidding about that sunburn either. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and remember that the shade is your friend. Being so close to the equator, it doesn’t take long to fry and ruin the rest of your vacation. You can easily spot those who challenged the Fijian sun to a duel and lost in epic fashion. Don’t be that person.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can rent a kayak or jet ski and explore the waters around your island. But don’t stay out too long. You’ll want to secure the perfect place to kick back with a Fiji Bitter and watch the sunset.
If you do stay in Denarau, I suggest the Sheraton’s Flying Fish. From what feels like the eastern end of the earth, the day burns away as an intense orange and red sunset kisses the coast good night.
Don’t forget to eat (a phase no one has ever had to utter to me). Some of Denarau’s best restaurants are at the marina. We enjoyed Nadina which serves traditional Fijian dishes and even offers Kava tasting ceremonies. My fiancé jumped at the opportunity to try this popular local tea that is packed with Vitamin B and is known to for it’s relaxing effects.
After you feast, rest up because tomorrow you’re island hopping!
Ready to venture off the resort, day two is the perfect time to jump on a chartered boat and make your way to a private island.
We used Captain Cook Cruises which took us to Tivua Island. Not more than a half mile wide by a half mile long, the island was only inhabited with the boat full of us that came over.
The crew at Captain Cook keeps you thoroughly entertained on the hour and half long journey to the island. They sing, they play instruments and even host a Kava tea ceremony (once again, bae was the first in line).
On the island, we had the choice of snorkeling, a glass-bottom boat ride, paddle boarding, kayaking and diving. We jumped at the chance to snorkel along the coral and bae even saw a shark! (Don’t worry they were relatively harmless if unprovoked.)
Our tour guide on the glass bottom boat ride explained the devastating effect extreme weather and climate change is having out our coral reef. It was a stark reminder to never take our planet’s natural wonders for granted.
After a delicious cook out and some refreshing Fiji Bitters, we were on our way back to the hotel — just in time for another mind-blowing sunset.
Awesome dinner spot number two: Rhum Bar at the marina.
We dedicated our third day to mental and physical rejuvenation. An early morning run along the coast and a couple’s massage at the Westin with our own private bath was the perfect balance.
Once you feel like you’ve reached the perfect level of zen, hit up the resort’s traditional Fijian show with music, dancing and fire walking! The food is nothing to balk at either. This little piece of Fijian culture is the perfect end to your island layover.
Full disclosure, seeing only two of 330 islands left me urning for more so I’d suggest at least four days but these three will get you started!