When someone says “Fiji”, probably the first thing that comes to mind is a tropical paradise with turquoise sea and coconut trees. And you would be right! This picturesque archipelago in the South Pacific is renowned for its pearly beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life. However, beyond its pristine beauty, there are so many meaningful things to do in Fiji that surpass expectations and even go beyond the typical tourist experience.
1. Embrace local communities through volunteering
Fiji’s true essence lies in the warmth and hospitality of its people. One of the most rewarding ways to experience the country is by engaging in volunteer overseas work. Whether you choose to teach in schools and kindergartens, participate in construction projects, or volunteer at orphanages, these activities will bring you closer to the Fijian way of life.
For example, participating in disaster management projects can be particularly impactful, given Fiji’s vulnerability to natural disasters. As you spend time teaching in schools, you’ll witness the eagerness of children to learn and the determination of educators to provide the best education possible despite limited resources. Your contribution during times of need will not only be appreciated but also serve as a testament to the resilience and solidarity of the Fijian people.
2. Dive into the marine wonderland
There is no doubt that Fiji is a diver’s utopia. You will find vibrant marine life beneath the surface with colorful coral reefs, exotic fish, and fascinating underwater creatures. No matter if you are a beginner or an experienced diver, Fiji offers a range of diving experiences suitable for all.
Some of the must-visit diving spots are located by the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, including the famous Great Astrolabe Reef — the world’s fourth-largest barrier reef. The Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Strait is another great location famous for its astounding soft coral formations. In case you are not a diver, you have many opportunities to snorkel and take a peek at Fiji’s marine biodiversity.
3. Embark on hiking adventures
Fiji’s lush landscapes are full of trails that wind through the islands, offering breathtaking views and encounters with native wildlife. Go to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, on the island of Viti Levu, to see unique geological formations and learn about the area’s cultural significance. The Tavoro Waterfalls in Taveuni are excellent for those wanting a refreshing hike through tropical forests, leading to stunning cascades.
However, if you’re looking for a more challenging hike, the Kokoda Trail in Navosa is a multi-day expedition that takes you through rugged terrain and remote villages. On the other hand, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant is well-known for its diverse orchid collection and a great opportunity for a leisurely stroll. Among other hiking adventures is the ascent to the summit of Mount Tomanivi, Fiji’s highest peak, and the waterfalls of the Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool, perfect for relaxing.
4. Explore traditional villages
Exploring traditional villages in Fiji offers a journey into the rich cultural heritage of the island nation. One such village worth visiting is Navala, renowned for its iconic thatched-roof bures — traditional Fijian houses, arranged in a picturesque setting. The village of Viseisei is considered to be the country’s oldest settlement and is revered as the place where the first Fijians landed, making it a site of historical importance.
Another significant village is Nukubalavu, located in the lush district of Savusavu and known for preserving ancient Fijian customs and practices. The travelers can partake in traditional ceremonies and interact closely with friendly locals who take great pride in sharing their customs. To truly understand the Fijian way of life, don’t only go to tourist hotspots, but rather make your itinerary more interesting and visit traditional villages scattered throughout the islands.
5. Experience the rich cultural traditions
Fijians take immense pride in their cultural heritage and are happy to share it with foreigners. You can attend a traditional kava ceremony, where a mildly narcotic drink made from the kava plant is shared among the participants as a symbol of unity and friendship. Or, you can witness the electrifying meke dance, a captivating performance showcasing traditional songs and dances that depict Fiji’s history and legends.
Exploring local handicraft markets, like Suva Municipal Market and the Nadi Handicraft Market, is another way to support artisans and take home beautifully crafted souvenirs. Fiji is full of ancient traditions and spiritual practices, as attested by numerous sacred sites like the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple in Nadi. Distinguished by its complex Dravidian architecture and lively colors, this Hindu temple is the largest one in the Southern Hemisphere.
6. Come to festivals and events
If your visit coincides with a local festival or event, consider yourself lucky, as these celebrations offer a glimpse into Fiji’s vibrant culture and community spirit. The Bula Festival, held in July, is a week-long extravaganza of parades, music, dancing, and traditional ceremonies that celebrate the country’s heritage.
Another exciting event is the Hibiscus Festival with talent competitions, carnival rides, and food stalls full of delicacies. Not only will you have fun, but these festivals are a wonderful opportunity to meet the locals, learn about their customs, and join in the celebrations.
Fiji is not just a postcard-perfect vacation spot. This is the place where you can meet and bond with the local communities gaining culturally enriched experience and fulfillment. Whether through volunteer work, hiking, or local festivities, Fiji will surpass expectations, leaving an indelible mark on your soul.