Mention Fiji to any diver and often just one thing comes to mind - sharks. In recent years, Fiji has rightly gained a reputation for offering some of the best shark diving on the planet, with near-guaranteed encounters with bull sharks, silvertips, nurse sharks, and more on the cards.
But this idyllic island nation has been tempting adventurous travellers long before the discovery of these epic underwater encounters. And, even to this day, Fiji is often regarded as the ultimate ‘paradise found’, complete with palm-fringed beaches, laidback lifestyle, and a rich indigenous culture.
So, if you can peel your eyes from the powerful predators beneath the waves, you’ll find a wealth of other activities and attractions throughout this incredible country. And here’s a handful to get you started.
With plenty of rugged landscapes to explore, it’s possible to find adventure almost anywhere in Fiji. In fact, this country’s isolated islets have set the stage for several survival films such as Blue Lagoon and Castaway. But, Pacific Harbour is undoubtedly the best place to start if you’re looking for adventure. Nicknamed the “Adventure Capital of Fiji”, it’s easy to see why this town is a safe bet for action-packed activities - and it’s also the portal to Beqa’s infamous shark dive, the perfect combination for divers.
One popular activity around Pacific Harbour is a two-kilometre network of zip-lines that criss-crosses the rainforest canopy, allowing visitors to travel at up to 60kph through the trees. But, the premier adventure activity has to be river rafting. Starting in the highlands, visitors can paddle down the Navua or Luva rivers in rafts and kayaks, tackling challenging rapids and stopping at waterfalls en-route.
Of course, aside from diving, one of the main sports many people associate with Fiji is surfing, and there are plenty of exceptional breaks all over this island nation. Pacific Harbour itself is home to several spots including Frigates, Shifties, Fiji Pipe, J’s and Vunaniu, while the nearby Mamanuca Islands are home to iconic waves such as Restaurants, Cloudbreak, Namotu Lefts, Desperations, and Wilkes Passage. If you’re not into surfing, other adventure activities include off-roading, jet boating, and more.
As you might expect from an isolated island nation, Fiji boasts a distinct local culture that flavours everything from the warm hospitality and food, to festivals and music. And, while colonisation and global migration have certainly left their mark, indigenous traditions and values such as generosity, friendliness and gratitude still hold sway.
Ceremonies are still a cornerstone of traditional life in Fiji, and when visiting some of the more remote villages, visitors may be expected to take part in sevusevu gift giving ceremony. During this ceremony, visitors must present the head of the village with a gift of yaqona root, which is then pounded into kava and shared together. It may seem a little formal, maybe even daunting, but the welcoming villagers are always more than happy to guide you through the process. Other ceremonies include cooking on heated stones in an underground oven called a lovo, and the dance and story-telling ceremony known as meke. Fire walking is an age-old Fijian ceremonial custom, with only certain Sawau villagers on Beqa island allowed to take part.
But, festivities and community spirit aside, Fiji’s history does have a somewhat darker streak. The Naihehe Caves are a fascinating relic of this tumultuous time, having once served as a fortress for a cannibal tribe. Solemn remains within the cave include a cannibal oven and a ritual altar. In the same vein, visitors can also visit the tomb of Ratu Udre Udre, believed to be Fiji’s last known - and most notorious - cannibal chief. Around his burial site lie 872 stones, each said to represent one of his victims.
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Divers are inherently attracted to the natural world, and luckily for us, Fiji is just as diverse and beautiful above the water, as it is below. The majority of Fiji's islands were formed by volcanic activity some 150 million years ago, and although now largely inactive, they have created plenty of dramatic terrain scenery to explore.
The third largest of Fiji’s islands, Taveuni, is actually the very tip of a large shield volcano that rises from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. With a summit reaching over a kilometre high, Taveuni dominates the Fijian skyline, and the island is scarred with more than 150 craters. Not far away, the volcanic island of Koro is made up of a chain of cinder cones stretching from north to south, while Kadavu boasts the lone Nabukelevu Volcano on its southwestern tip.
Of course, volcanoes and geothermal activity go hand-in-hand, and sites such as the Savusavu Hot Springs on Vanua Levu can give onlookers an impressive display, reaching temperatures of up to 100°C and bursting with fountains of water, known as geysers. Or for something a little more relaxing, head to Sabeto Hot Springs on Viti Levu. This less energetic geothermal spring offers ‘baths’ of varying temperatures, and a therapeutic mud pool, allowing guests to de-stress while immersing themselves in local culture.
Keen hikers also have plenty to look forward to in Fiji, with a wealth of national parks and untouched landscapes on offer. The Koroyanitu National Heritage Park, near Nadi on Viti Levu’s western coast, is home to a maze of wonderful hiking trails, all maintained by local villagers as part of an ecotourism project. And, those who make the climb to the summit of Castle Rock will be rewarded with panoramic views of the nearby Mamanuca and Yasawa islands. Bouma National Heritage Park is another great option for intrepid explorers, covering over 80% of Taveuni’s total area and featuring dense rainforest, waterfalls and natural swimming spots.
Fiji is home to a treasure-trove of interesting and varied wildlife, with many endemic species to boot. Kadavu alone is home to four endemic bird species - the Kadavu fantail, honeyeater, whistling dove and musk parrot. The Fiji monkey-faced bat can be found on Taveuni, around the summit region of Des Voeux Peak, while the Fijian tree frog, Fijian ground frog, and the vibrant Fiji Banded Iguana are all more widespread.
For many Fijians, recreational sporting activities are part and parcel of their active, outdoor lifestyle. Thankfully, this means visitors can find plenty of opportunities to try their hand, or simply sit back and watch as teams show off their formidable skills. As you’d expect from an island nation, water sports are everywhere, with sailing and deep sea fishing two of the most popular among tourists. Back on land, visitors will find six 18-hole golf courses to choose from, the majority of which are located on Viti Levu. Plus, many of Fiji’s main resorts come equipped with convenient sports facilities such as volleyball courts.
For Fijians, rugby is the most widespread sport, and rugby union, sevens, and rugby league are all played. Fiji’s national rugby sevens team is among the best in the world, and an on-going domestic sevens league allows visitors to catch some of the action. Netball is another popular sport in Fiji, as is va’a - the uniquely Pacific sport of competitive outrigger paddling.
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