Water and Land Sport Paradise: An Adventurer’s Guide to Fiji


Fiji has topped my bucket list for as long as I can remember. White sand beaches. Swaying palms. Pumping surf. Reefs rich in biodiversity. It’s a watersports- and ocean-lover’s paradise.

I first visited Fiji in 2020, at the cusp of the COVID pandemic — my trip ended abruptly when the island nation had its first case of the virus. I’ve been itching to go back ever since and when Fiji reopened its borders, I knew it was time to plan a trip.

In May 2022, my boyfriend and I boarded a plane for a 2-week trip in paradise. We spent the first few days surfing and then boarded a cruise ship where we spent a week island-hopping.

Our final days were spent on Fiji’s mainland, immersing ourselves in the culture and doing a couple of fun day trips. It was a trip I will be talking about for years to come.

An Adventurer’s Guide to Fiji

(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Getting There

Getting to Fiji is pretty straightforward. You fly into Fiji’s international airport in Nadi and from there, there are a couple of different options to get to your final destination.

If you’re staying on the mainland, a cab or shuttle is your best bet. If you’re heading to the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands, the most affordable option is to hop on the ferry from Port Denarau. Some resorts offer their own transportation, so get in touch ahead of time to finalize your plan.

Another option is to get to your resort via helicopter, which is an experience in itself. If you’re heading to Vanua Levu, you’ll need to hop on a puddle hopper to Savusavu and take ground transportation from there.

Where to Visit

Viti Levu, Fiji’s Mainland

When visiting Fiji, most people spend a night or two on the mainland before heading to the outer islands. Hotels on the mainland are a good stopping point before venturing to your next destination or a fun spot to post up for a few days to enjoy some cultural experiences and excursions.

If you want to stay somewhere close to the airport, Nadi has a lot of options. Port Denarau seemed to be the most popular spot among tourists: it is home to a number of chain hotels, shops, restaurants, and a free shuttle.

We stayed at the Sheraton and while it was a nice place to stay for a night, I was glad I wasn’t staying for the bulk of my trip. Another popular mainland destination is the Coral Coast — I spent a night there on a previous trip to Fiji, and it was definitely a fun spot to spend a few nights.

The Yasawa & Mamanuca Islands

An Adventurer's Guide to Fiji - getting ready to surf
Traveling between islands; (photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Located to the west of Nadi, the Mamanuca Islands consist of about 20 islands and are a great place to post up if you’re looking to do some snorkeling, surfing, or diving.

Located a little further north are the Yasawa Islands, which consist of 20 volcanic islands and are some of the most stunning islands and reefs I have ever laid eyes on. Among the two island chains, there are countless resorts and Airbnbs to choose from, ranging from budget to luxury.

We spent our first 4 days at the Funky Fish Resort on Malolo Island, which was as funky as the name suggests — it was a great spot for accessing the local surf breaks. Over the course of our trip, we had the chance to visit a number of other islands.

If you have the option, I’d highly recommend splitting your time between Mamanucas and Yasawas, and doing as much island hopping as possible so you can experience a little bit of everything.

Vanua Levu

Vanua Levu is Fiji’s second-largest island and is much quieter than Viti Levu, making it a great place to visit if you’re looking to truly relax and unwind. Labasa and Savusavu are the most popular places to stay, but you can always find something in the more remote corners of the island if you’re willing to do some digging.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Vanua Levu on our trip, but I did a lot of research on it when planning our adventure.

Mainland Excursions in Fiji

Captain Cook Cruises

An Adventurer's Guide to Fiji - snorkeling
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

We were lucky enough to do a weeklong island-hopping cruise with Captain Cook and it was an incredible week with some of the best snorkeling of my life. If you’re not able to do the weeklong cruise, they also offer day trips to Tivua Island (highly recommend) and sunset dinner cruises.

Learn More at Captain Cook Cruises

Zip Fiji

Zipline Club tour
A zipline tour in Nadi; (photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like racing through the forest surrounded by breathtaking views. During our time in Port Denarau, we did the Zipline Nadi tour and had a great experience.

The tour includes 16 zips, complimentary transfers, and lunch and refreshments. The views were incredible, and it was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Learn More at Zip Fiji

Rivers Fiji River Rafting

This excursion was at the top of my list but unfortunately, we weren’t able to swing it on this trip. The trip navigates the Upper Navua River and includes rapids, waterfalls, hidden grottoes, and a lush rainforest, making for a memorable day trip.

Learn More at Rivers Fiji

Cloud 9

Cloud 9 is epic — it’s a floating bar in the middle of the ocean. From the mainland or most of the Mamanuca Islands, you can easily do a day trip out to Cloud 9 where you can sip on drinks, enjoy homemade pizza, swim into the water, and snorkel.

We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at Cloud 9 and would definitely go back.

Learn More at Cloud 9

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Watersports in Fiji

Snorkeling/Diving

reef's sighting and snorkeling - Fiji
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

I live in Hawaii and have been to the Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier — and still, Fiji is one of the most impressive places I’ve ever been snorkeling or diving.

The reefs are colorful and healthy, and there is a wide array of marine life. We went to about 10 different snorkeling sites along the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands and did one dive in the Yasawas — and were blown away.

Favorite sightings included clown fish, black tip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, sea stars, jellies, and hard and soft corals.

Surfing

surfing in Fiji
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Fiji is home to some of the best surfing in the world. Warm water, vibrant reefs, and perfect barrels — odds are you’ll never want to leave.

Cloudbreak is the most famous surf spot in the country, known for big waves and clean barrels. Other noteworthy breaks in the region include Namotu Lefts, Wilkes Passage, Swimming Pools, Tavarua Rights, and Desperations.

There was a big swell during our stay, so we were only able to surf Namotu Lefts and Swimming Pools. The conditions were unreal, and I scored some of the best waves of my life.

Standup Paddling and Kayaking

kayaks lined up on a beach shore in Fiji
Getting ready to kayak in Fiji; (photo/Rebecca Parsons)

If you’re looking for a different perspective, paddling is a great way to find it. Standup paddling and kayaking were fun ways for us to explore stretches of the islands. The water is clear, so you can view the reefs from above.

If you have access to a kayak or SUP, I highly recommend heading out to explore. Even if you spend the majority of your time falling in, it’s a fun way to mix things up and cool off.

The Culture

The Fijians are proud of their culture and are excited to share it with visitors. During our trip, we had the opportunity to visit a local school and a few small villages, where we learned about the life of the locals.

We also had the chance to attend a kava ceremony, where we enjoyed traditional Fijian foods, music and, of course, kava. The Fijians are incredibly warm and welcoming and are some of the kindest people I have ever come across.

Final Thoughts

paddleboarding in fiji
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

For a destination I spent a lifetime visiting, Fiji did not disappoint. While we covered a lot of ground during our 2-week trip, there is still so much more I want to see and do.

Although the tan lines are already beginning to fade, I know the memories I made during my time in Fiji will last a lifetime. And I have no doubt that it’ll only be a matter of time before I return to the tropical waters once more.

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