Fiji is comprised of over 300 islands, each island offers something different than the other and each has a specific style. Choosing one of these islands is time consuming and stressful, luckily the islands are put into groups to make it a bit easier. This is my guide to each island group in Fiji, enabling you to see which one is your vibe and help you make your decision.
This is Fiji’s main island and is home to the capital city Suva, the largest metropolis in the South Pacific outside of New Zealand. The Island is the biggest in Fiji with its only airport located in Nadi, the island’s next largest city.
Viti Levu offers a vast array of culture and white sanded resort covered beaches, this island brings out everyone’s inner paradise. Spend your day trekking the rainforest covered hills and stop for a swim under a waterfall. Or set your butt in the sand at Coral Coast, lined with a 7-Star resort (yeah, that’s a thing). Stay the night in Denarau, Fiji’s high-end, designer clad resort neighborhood close to the port. Head over to Beqa Lagoon for fascinating free dives or a chance to swim with tiger sharks. Or soak in the Sabeto hot springs while your jaw drops at the views.
In the two main cities, Suva and Nadi, you will have an opportunity to meet islanders, see the embassies, visit government houses, and explore Fijian temples. Visit a village where the local islanders share stories of Fiji’s history and you will have the chance to try Fiji’s traditional drink – Kava (disclaimer: the drink is considered similar to a narcotic, they usually only offer a sip.) Whatever your paradise, Viti Levu can offer it.
Cloud 9 Restaurant
Serving as one of the more recognizable group of islands in Fiji, this group has an island made for everyone. The Mamanuca Island group is the closest to the mainland, Viti Levu, hosting the most tourists of any island group.
The Mamanuca Islands offer the most in family friendly activities, resort paradises, exquisite dining and cuisine, as well as attracting surf junkies and backpacker budgets. The world famous Cloudbreak calls the Mamanucas home, attracting surfers from all over the world. What comes with a famous wave pulling people from every corner of the world? Surf shacks. The Mamanucas are known for their surfer sanctuaries, offering a chance to meet those seeking the same check mark on their bucket list.
The Mamanucas support a backpacker budget and offer one of the highest ranking backpacker experiences. Beachcomber Island, known as the reigning party resort island of the country, is included in this group. How much time should you spend on this island? Maybe a night or two, there is a lot more to see in Fiji than this little island.
If you are looking for an experience like you find in Tahiti or the Maldives, visit Malolo Island. This island offers overwater bungalows at LikuLiku Island Resort and many other luxurious accommodations.
If a main goal of your trip is to experience the authentic Fijian culture, I wouldn’t spend your whole time here. As beautiful as these islands may be, they aren’t a full breeder of Fiji’s culture.
The islands that sit northeast of the Mamanucas are known as the Yasawa Islands. Your escape into a quiet paradise and isolated bliss, not yet excluding the opportunity for adventure. You have so many opportunities for adventure,
The serendipitous peace of this secluded paradise is a mild 2-3 hour ferry ride from Nadi, with stops on each island in the group to drop off your fellow ferry riders. The islands are small, usually holding one resort or village as the only occupant. These resorts range from 5-star luxuries to backpacker bungalows and are suitable for any budget. This island is known for its affordable retreats, giving it a second name as the Backpacker Paradise.
Each island has its own offerings and the backpacker digs offer meal passes, entertainment, activities, and excursions. The dining options here are resort based without the option for privately owned restaurants. Depending on the resort you will have some way of paying for food and drinks, some are all inclusive while others offer meal deals. There will likely be multiple bars, a few different “restaurants” and a snackbar. That is your typical setup with these backpacking luxuries.
The activities and excursions are endless, you will find some of the best snorkeling spots in Fiji on these islands, experience an underwater adventure that is unique to this part of the world. You will also have the opportunity to dive with sharks on Kuata Island or swim with the gentle Manta Rays near Drawaqa Island. However, your window to see these sizeable creatures is small as they pass through the islands April-October. Take a day trip to the Sawa-i-lau caves or relax at your resort for the day with a drink in hand. No matter what type of adventure you are looking for, the Yasawas are your answer for an affordable trip in Fiji.
Kadavu is located south of the main island and is one of Fiji’s most secluded islands. Considered to be an untouched paradise, Kadavu is one giant adventure with nature. The island of Kadavu is the most authentic to Fijian culture than most of the island groups, it can be compared to Viti Levu but without the modern lifestyle offered there.
Kadavu can be reached by plane or boat, with airport shuttles that take you to your resort down the only road on the island. To travel there like a local, hop on the ferry that departs from Suva every Tuesday night to Kavala Bay.The activities here are for the eco-adventurer, with bird watching, hiking trails through the lush rainforests, spectacular waterfalls, and the Great Astrolabe Reef – the world’s fourth largest – the natural escapes are never-ending. The Great Astrolabe Reef surrounds the island and each resort offers the opportunity and equipment to explore one of the wonders of the world.
Accommodation on Kadavu is authentic and unlike any other in Fiji. The resorts are secluded and limited, most with only a dozen villas available. While some are accessible by shuttle from the airport, others are only reachable by boat. These resorts range from backpacker bungalows and guest houses to luxury eco resorts. The dining on the islands is limited to the resorts. The dining is unlike anything else in Fiji, as most resorts work in tune with the local villages offering organic ingredients grown onsite. Not only is the produce delivered directly from the source, the seafood is unbelievable and plentiful.
Another place for the ecocentric traveler is Taveuni, offering a total immersion in nature. Known for its incredible natural beauty, the island is covered with exuberant rainforests, heavy in waterfalls, lined with luxurious beaches, and filled with tropical gardens.
The Island is recognized as the Garden Island and is home to Bouma National Heritage Park, Waitabu a substantial marine park, and world-renowned dive sites such as the Great Wall and Eel Reef. The opportunities to explore some of world’s most gorgeous natural attractions are endless on Taveuni.
Taveuni has less backpacker digs and is most abundant in resorts on the northern tip of the island. Something unique about this island is the option to rent beach cottages and holiday homes for a more secluded stay. Another super cool option on Taveuni is its campgrounds. If having the right equipment is a worry, don’t fret these campgrounds provide you with basic essentials, including a tent.
Food on Taveuni is similar to most other islands, it is most commonly found at the resorts or campgrounds. While the beach cottages and holiday homes are up to the owner.
Taveuni’s must see is the unique Gaiatree Sanctuary. This edible landscape offers authentic Island cuisines with an organic spice farm, Nectar Dome, tropical superfoods and more. You can get here on a day trip with transportation offered on the resorts or plan a scheduled trip ahead of time.
Getting to this island is very simple and similar to the others, ferries and seaplanes take visitors to the island daily. There are many excursions offered on this island, so if you want to hit all the sites in a day book one of these.
Fiji’s second largest island is known as Vanua Levu and is a less touristy version of Viti Levu. This island offers more of the “city” feel with its main town Savusavu frequented by cruise ships, ferries, and planes. Vanua Levu gives you the best of both worlds with the option to explore a Fijian city or explore the desolate landscape that is authentic to the islands. Whichever paradise, you can find it here.
The main drag in Savusavu is filled with eclectic restaurants, fully stocked supermarkets, secondhand shops, a sheltered bay, and bustling market.
Just east of Savusavu you can travel the infamous Hibiscus Highway to a string of cozy beachside resorts. Vanua Levu is a great spot to swim alongside the dolphins in Natewa Bay, a common spot to see the spunky creatures.
The island is also known for its untouched rainforests and is home to the Wasali Nature Reserve. Get off the beaten path and explore the stunning rainforests and hidden trails that lead to some of the world’s most fascinating items.
Getting to Vanua Levu is similar to most other islands. Flights depart from Suva to Savusavu every Tuesday and Thursday, while there are daily flights from Nadi. There is also a regular ferry service from Viti Levu that you can book ahead of time or at the port before departure.
Vanua Levu’s accommodation ranges from home-stay options and backpacker beach cottages to luxury resorts and retreats. Whichever you prefer, your options seem almost endless.