Our tropical escape to Fiji first began with blissful daydreams of white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and a butler (or two) who keeps the drinks flowing. 🙂 Okay, maybe not the butlers, but definitely the sandy beaches, the ocean, and the drinks.
And as we started to turn those sun-drenched daydreams into reality, we soon discovered that Fiji has over 300 islands scattered throughout the South Pacific. We knew that we wanted to go to Fiji, but we didn’t know the first thing about which island we should explore. So I spent a lot of evenings researching our options and today I’m sharing a few tips that helped narrow down our choices and what led to our final decision.
Illustration provided by Fiji Travel
When Cody and I began planning our trip, I went into our office and pulled out my Lonely Planet Fiji book that I purchased a couple of years back. I know a lot of the information in travel books can now be found online, but I’m old-fashioned and like real books where I can turn the real pages. I also like the mini-travel-library I’ve slowly collected throughout the years. 🙂
After familiarizing myself with the beautiful country of Fiji–thanks Lonely Planet–Cody and I looked at the Fijian islands and separated it into regions based on physical location: Nadi (the main island of Viti Levu), the Northern islands (Vanua Levu and Taveuni), the Mamanucas and the Yasawas (two island chains to the west of the main island), and finally, the South. By breaking it up into regions, we could begin to narrow down which region we preferred. Not scientific by any means, but it worked for us.
Next, we did a lot of research into the best islands suited for our ideal vacation: “best islands to scuba dive in Fiji,” “best islands for relaxation,” “best beaches in Fiji,” etc. With only one visit to Fiji I’m clearly no destination expert, so I would suggest doing some google searches based on your own preferences.
As you begin finding answers to your questions about Fiji, make note of the islands that speak to you, and also, the region of the islands. Perhaps through your research you’ll realize that you long for the picture-perfect beaches found in the Yasawas. Or maybe the jungles of Taveuni peak your curiosity. When it comes to travel planning, the internet is your friend. 🙂 Well, at least, a good portion of the internet is your friend. Try to stay away from those dark corners… from what I’m told, things can get weird. 😉
After weeks of research, Cody and I had narrowed down our decision to three islands: Beqa, the Mamanucas, and Taveuni. And honestly, our choices could not have been more diverse.
Beqa: South of the main island, Beqa is most known for its epic, heart-pounding, shark-filled scuba dives. (Bull sharks AND tiger sharks together on one dive! You guys, my shark-obsessed self was in heaven daydreaming about this amazing Bucket List dive).
The Mamanucas: This island chain to the west is full of beautiful sunsets, sandy beaches, and that relaxed “island time” lifestyle which come together perfectly in a real-life tropical paradise.
Taveuni: Fiji’s third largest island is also known as the Garden Island and offers visitors lush jungles, abundant wildlife, and famous dive sites (apparently some of the best dive sites in Fiji from my research)–Taveuni has it all.
To help us with our final decision, we sat down together and envisioned our dream trip. We focused on our “Vacation Mood” and we agreed that we wanted relaxation, scuba diving, more relaxation, nice beaches, and we wanted to stay put for the entire trip–so no island hopping this time around.
And after listing out our priorities for this trip, it was easy to see the clear winner: The Mamanuca Islands. It checked off every box, aside from the Bucket List shark dives and the famous dive sites. Although, I was still lucky enough to see sharks on my dives in the Mamanucas.
There you have it. No matter how specific or detailed your original daydreams may be, your own version of paradise is waiting to be explored in Fiji. And by doing a little research, figuring out your desired region, deciding on travel experiences, and focusing on your “vacation mood,” you’ll find a perfect island to call “home” on your next trip to Fiji.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that the planning and researching is half of the fun. 🙂 And remember, it is Paradise, so there is no such thing as a wrong choice.