This island archipelago in the South Pacific is made up of 333 tropical islands some of which remain uninhabited to this day. The islands make up 9 separate groups of which the Conway Reef islands and the Skerries are the smallest and the Vanua Levu Group the largest.
The island groupings which make up this island paradise are Conway Reef, Kadavu Group, Lau Islands, Lomaviti Islands, Mamanuca Islands, Rotuma Group, Vanua Levu Group, Viti Levu Group and the Yasawa Islands.
It is thought that the forebears of ethnic Fijians arrived on the islands as far back as the 2nd millennium BC, but the islands were not discovered again until the Dutch and British arrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Fijian chiefs eventually offered to cede control of the islands to the British in 1874 and the islands of Fiji became a British dependency.
The British then set about developing the islands as a sugar-cane growing colony and as the plantations prospered more and more cheap labour was needed. 40 years from the start of the plantations the islands’ population was insufficient to meet this demand, so the British imported indentured labour from its colonies in India. Indentured labour, which is, of course, just slavery in disguise, was finally stopped in 1920. This left the Indian population vying for employment and space on the islands and racial tension between ethnic Fijians and Fijian-Indians began.
Fiji’s Independence was won in 1970 and Indian Fijian’s dominated the government and the already existing racial tensions heightened resulting finally in a coup in 1987. At this point, many Indian Fijian’s found it difficult to remain on the islands and many fled. It was clear something had to be done and a new constitution was drafted for the islands which took effect in 1998. The island is now governed by a multiracial government and the islands have become known as
Today visitors can choose from the most luxurious holidays on Luxury private islands, mid-range all-inclusive resorts, or budget packages. The islands offer much for those who love golden sands and clear calm seas. Scuba diving and water sports are the most popular activities but there is a growing interest in eco-tourism and adventure tourism as the islands become better known and part of the tourism industries mainstream.
The many choices afforded to the visitor in Fiji means that often visitors face a dilemma when it comes to choosing the right island destination for their particular needs, so a little more background information is often sought.
Fiji’s island groupings
The capital city of Suva and Fiji’s international airport are on Vitu Levu which is Fiji’s largest island. Arriving by plane the visitor lands in the town of Nadi, which is treated as more of a night stop by most as they move on to more idyllic settings. However, Nadi also offers holiday adventure activities outside the town.
Suva the Capital of Fiji is also where most of the industry of the island is to be found. So although not an ideal holiday destination it is worth a short visit to visit the mahogany rainforest or savour some of the modern day multi-cultural cuisines that is offered in the many restaurants and cafés that offer authentic curries, and mouth-watering seafood.
Denarau Island: is not far from Nadi and is much favoured as on this island most of Fiji’s best hotels are to be found. The coast offers great opportunities for water sports, snorkelling and scuba diving. There is also a Marina where the luxurious yachts of the well-heeled are berthed. The inter-island ferry also docks in the Marina offering a regular service to Manamucas and Yasawas both of which are paradise for those who love to snorkel in crystal clear waters. On the Yasawas accommodation ranges from backpacker-basic to upmarket luxury.
Pacific Harbour: Whether you are looking for backpacker type accommodation or top of the range you will find resorts here that cater to every budget. The best beaches of the island are here as are boutique shops, and Arts village and everything you could wish for in the way of water sports and adventure activities. There is really great surfing at Frigate’s Passage and scuba diving at Beqa Lagoon.
The Coral Coast:
The Coral Coast: If you are looking for a great scuba diving spot then this is where to come. The many resorts on this stretch of coastline offer many varied activities and tours as well as boat rides to the best diving areas.
The Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast: If you are looking for somewhere to experience unspoilt Fiji, the dry Sunshine Coast has many traditional villages to explore where mosques and temples are also to be found. Some holiday homes here are offered as holiday rentals and there are a few boutique resorts. From here there is easy access to the Bligh Waters region where the diving is superb.
The Highlands: The eco-tourist in you will be delighted with the lush green of the highlands where you can hike from village to village and get to see authentic Fiji.
Ovalau and the Lomaiviti Group
Not far from Viti Levu is the Island of Ovalau. The once capital of Fiji, Levuka is situated on the island and is full of colonial buildings to explore. Outside the city, you can hike through the mountains and visit the many traditional villages.
The small chain of islands that includes Leleuvia, Naigani and Koro host some mid-range resorts and Wakaya Island is host to the famed exclusive and luxury Wakaya Club.
South of Vitu Levu lies the Kadavu group of islands with Kadavu Island the fourth largest island of Fiji. It is the least developed of the tourist islands and there are not many roads, although more modern roads are planned. However, tourists come here to enjoy the fabulous snorkelling and diving to be had at the surrounding
Vanau Levu Group
This archipelago in the north of Fiji is not a bustling tourist oriented group of islands and the largest island of the same name is the 2nd largest in Fiji. It is a destination that offers much to the more adventurous traveller. It is possible to arrange a homestay in the town of Savusavu and there are some excellent back-packer resorts. In its protected bay many yachts find safe harbour and along the coast are some high-end luxury resorts that boast glorious beaches and some of the region’s most spectacular dive spots.
Apart from sun, sand and water, there is a rainforest and the Wasali Nature reserve with its many hiking trails that lead to lookout spots with the most breathtakingly beautiful views. If you really want to explore and find something really different then near Labasa you can wander the Hibiscus highway or seek out the Snake Temple.
This is a coral reef, inhabited only by birds, is part of the Western Division of Fiji. It is virtually inaccessible except by a shallow tender and then only at high tide. There is a small sandy 2-hectare cay on the reef with only a little scrub vegetation. The only people who go out as far as the reef are extremely experienced divers who apart from exploring the reef, enjoy a dive around the two sunken wrecks in the pristine waters.
The Rotuma Group
Home to its indigenous people with their own unique language is not particularly keen on developing a tourist infrastructure, so there are no hotels or resorts on this group of islands to the north of Fiji. However, it is possible to pay a short visit to explore and experience life on the islands where the influence of the outside world is minimal. The number of visitors to the islands is strictly regulated and as far as can be established are not permitted to number more than 100 each year.