10 Things You Have to Experience in Fiji
You might not be able to pinpoint Fiji on a map, but the average man will certainly have heard of it. Lesser known than the Maldives, and therefore more untouched, the natural beauty of the land takes your breath away, but the crown jewel of Fiji’s charm is its people. From the resorts to the villages, Fijians radiate warmth and friendliness, an inviting sense of home away from home. It's nearly impossible to pick just 10 things to do when you're there, but here are the essentials you have to indulge in Fiji.
1. Have some kokoda
Kokoda, pronounced kuh-kon-da, is a traditional Fijian dish prepared very much like ceviche. Raw fish is marinated in lime juice and served with an array of fresh vegetables and coconut milk. Every restaurant or resort will likely have their own version of the dish. If you prefer your meat cooked, head to Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa to try out the Vakalolo Hotpot at their signature restaurant, Navo. Fresh fish is served in piping hot coconut milk, and the bowl comes covered with a perfect buttery crust – it’s easy to see why it won Navo 'Restaurant of the Year' at the Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards.
2. Attend a kava ceremony
Kava is a mildly sedating drink made from mixing the powdered root of the kava plant with water. Taking a trip to a local village to attend a kava ceremony will let you try this beverage that looks like watered-down teh peng but tastes more like astringent herbal tea. The best way to do this is via the Sigatoka River Safari cruise, which will take you on a high-speed boat ride to a Fijian village to meet the village chief and take part in a traditional kava ceremony. Enjoy snacks freshly prepared by the women in the villages and a communal dancing session with the locals before you leave!
3. Visit a local church
A Fijian church service is supercharged with enthusiasm. The energy and joy of those in attendance can be overwhelming. Although none of the locals have had formal training, everyone can sing. The church choir is a melodious miracle in flawless harmony. Music is a big part of their culture and while the service is conducted in Fijian but you’ll feel at home regardless, as the children wave and smile at you, their eyes wide with curiosity. Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort has weekly trips to village churches every Sunday which guests can request for.
4. Stay on an island
We recommend spending a few nights on one of the 333 islands that make up Fiji. A short ferry ride from the mainland are the Mamanuca Islands, a pristine archipelago filled with resorts catering to different budgets and activities. Castaway Island Resort offers an unbeatable experience for travelers with activities planned out for guests covering all the water sports you can think of. Each room in the resort is laid out like a traditional Fijian house, on the beach or open to the sea. The resort is also home to 1808, an award-winning restaurant that serves up Fijian fare with an Asian twist.
5. Go Dive
If there is anywhere worth diving, it’s Fiji. The crystal clear waters are heavenly to swim in, and the variety of fish and corals in Fiji will amaze even the most well-travelled sea lovers. Fiji is home to the Great Astrolabe Reef, with an abundance of soft coral and carefully maintained by each and every resort. Part of your holiday bill goes towards preserving and protecting the reefs. Every resort in Fiji has a robust schedule, so make full use of it.
6. Try out a bobo massage
The traditional Fijian bobo, pronounced bom-bo, massage is a firm, rejuvenating massage that incorporates a rich oil blend to relax you and improve your circulation. If you’re wondering whether anyone in any village would know how to give a bobo massage, the answer is yes, although I don’t think you can just rock up to a village and ask for one. Your best bet is to indulge in a bobo massage at a resort spa, and the folks at Bebe Spa Fiji at Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort are a solid choice. If you’re there with someone special, book the couples’ sunset package – your massage session ends just as the sun sets, so you get to soak in a tub and enjoy the view… while you’re being served champagne.
7. Visit Cloud 9
Cloud 9, an hour away by Port Denarau by boat, is a double-decked floating restaurant and bar that will give your friends serious Instagram envy. Anchored in the middle of azure blue water and postcard-worthy views, it’s easy to forget the cares of the world - if you plan ahead and book a spot. Cloud 9 has strict rules about max occupancy of 100 - be warned. Once you find a small nook, you can either snorkel, swim, or laze the day away eating their wood-fired pizzas. Just don't forget the sunblock.
8. Chase wild dolphins
If your heart breaks when you see animals in captivity, you’ll sing for joy when you see a wild dolphin race your boat and show off with a few jumps and flips in their natural habitat. Castaway Island offers guests a chance to chase wild dolphins with a boat ride about 20 minutes from the island – the captain will stop the boat in the middle of a seemingly calm ocean and if you’re lucky, wild dolphins will swim up close in no time.
9. Give back to the community
You’ll inevitably fall in love with Fiji’s warmth, and if you want to give back to the community, you can pitch in at Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the team host a community session where guests can join visit a local village and help out – they are currently finishing up a new kindergarten and library for a village in Sigatoka, and will construct a trade training workshop at the Sigatoka Special Needs School next.
10. Up your sunset photography game
Frequent flyers will be familiar with postcard-perfect views of swaying trees dotting a pristine beach while the sun sets in the distance – and there is no better place to enjoy an otherworldly sunset like Fiji. Up your photography game by indulging in a sunset anywhere along Natadola Beach at Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, voted the best beach in Fiji.
Fiji Airways flies direct from Singapore to Nadi International Airport twice a week. For more information, click here. All photos and video material shot and edited by Chindianboy Studios.