Your Ultimate Guide to the Fijian Islands
If, when you think about Fiji, you picture a postcard-perfect island oasis, you’d be spot on. Imagine hammocks swaying in the breeze between coconut trees, friendly people and vibrant culture, and wild jungles that end right where the golden beach begins.
Just a short flight from the east coast of Australia, Fiji is located in the middle of the azure waters of the South Pacific Ocean. Fiji is spread over 18, 272 kilometres and is made up of over 330 islands, of which only a third are inhabited. This island nation is surrounded by Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the west, Samoa and Tonga to the east and New Zealand to the south.
The landscapes of Fiji are truly breathtaking. Here, lush tropical and pine vegetation is spread across the interior lands, while sugary white sand beaches wrap around the coastline. Each island is fringed by pristine blue-green waters that house vibrant soft coral reefs and deep drop-offs perfect for diving and fishing. Plus, as the majority of Fiji’s islands were formed through volcanic activity, you’ll also find several mountain peaks exceeding 900 metres above sea level.
Fiji has two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which account for most of the nation’s land mass and population. Other Fiji islands and island groups include Taveuni and Kadavu (the third and fourth largest islands), the Mamanuca Islands, the Yasawa Islands, the Lomaiviti Islands, and the Lau Islands. Here is our guide to the Fijian Islands:
Viti Levu is the largest of the Fiji Islands, being home to more than three-quarters of Fiji’s total population. This island is home to the capital city of Suva, along with several other coastal urban centres, like Lautoka, Sigatoka, Raikiraki and Nadi, which is home to the largest international airport.
Just 20 minutes from Nadi Airport is Denarau Island, the tourism hub of Fiji. This tranquil island oasis is connected to the mainland via a short causeway and houses several five-star, luxury resorts. A stay on Denarau Island provides easy access to a range of world-class restaurants, premium golf courses and easy access to Fiji’s best attractions.
Stretching 80 kilometres along the southern shores of Viti Levu, you’ll find the Coral Coast. Another one of Fiji’s most popular holiday destinations, the Coral Coast is dotted with both large luxury and smaller, family-run resorts, along with a range of action-packed adventure attractions.
The second largest of the Fiji Islands, Vanua Levu is slightly more rugged than the main island, although is still home to some thriving townships, including Labasa and Savusavu. Some must-dos while visiting Vanua Levu include driving the scenic Hibiscus Highway towards Natewa Bay, grabbing a beer at the Planters Club in Savusavu and visiting the geothermal hot springs of Savusavu.
Located off the southeast coast of Vanua Levu, Taveuni Island is the third largest island in Fiji. Known as the ‘Garden Island’, Taveuni is rich in natural splendour. Covered in lush tropical rainforests and an abundance of flora and fauna, Taveuni was once the home of fierce Fijian warriors. Some must-dos while visiting Taveuni Island include bird watching, hiking to Lake Tagimaucia and swimming in Bouma Falls.
Situated in the extreme south of Fiji, Kadavu Island is the nation’s fourth-largest island. Remote and uncrowded, Kadavu is far less developed than many of Fiji’s larger islands, however, remains a popular destination for serious divers. With the Great Astrolabe Reef hugging the southern coast of Kadavu, there is no better place to explore Fiji’s rich diversity of sea life. Additionally, an abundance of unique flora and fauna also inhabit Kadavu, including the protected Kadavu Parrot. As such, birdwatching is another popular activity in Kadavu.
Located just off the west coast of Viti Levu are the Mamanuca Islands. Made up of over 20 islands, the Mamanuca Group can be reached from Nadi via a 10-minute plane ride or an hour-long boat trip. As such, the Mamanuca Islands are a popular day trip for those staying in Denarau.
Most of the islands in the Mamanuca Group are home to stunning resorts, making it a peaceful alternative to the bustling tourist hot spots of the main island. Showcasing magnificent weather, idyllic beaches and sought-after surf breaks, the Mamanuca Islands offer visitors, luxury, romance and family-friendly fun.
Comprised of around 20 volcanic islands, the Yasawa Islands can be found off the northwest coast of Viti Levu. Stretching approximately 80 kilometres, the Yasawa Group is known for its dramatic peaks, long white sand beaches, and clear sapphire blue waters. The irresistible beauty of the Yasawa Islands draws countless tourists every year, with tourism being the main source of income for local villagers.
Consisting of seven main islands, and several smaller ones, the Lomaiviti Islands are located off the eastern coast of Viti Levu. Interestingly, on the largest island of the Lomaiviti Group, Ovalau, you’ll find the city of Levuka, which was once the capital city of Fiji.
Rich in South Pacific colonial history, Levuka is a nineteenth-century whaling town that once welcomed vessels from all around the world. If you’d like to step back in time and immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Lomaiviti Islands, the chain is just a 20-minute flight from Nausori International Airport or a short ferry ride from Suva.
Known as the ‘Little Tonga of Fiji’, the Lau Group is made up of approximately 60 islands, many of which are closer to Tonga than Fiji. Because of this, the culture of the Lau Islands is very much influenced by the Tongan way of life, including language, cuisine and architecture and traditions.
With limited commercial activity, the Lau Islands are by far the least visited destination in Fiji. However, for dedicated Fiji travel enthusiasts, the Lau Group offers warm Fijian hospitality and untouched natural wonders.