Fiji: An archipelago of contrasts

Fiji 1The Yasawa Islands of Fiji are full of contrasts. The Fijian archipelago sits in the Pacific Ocean, 1,300 miles north east of New Zealand, and benefits from spectacular scenery, a temperate climate and friendly locals. These attributes draw visitors from across the world, and for a number of reasons; whether it’s for a relaxing holiday, a stop on a round the world tour, or a romantic getaway, the Fijian islands have something to offer everyone.

The best way to experience Fijian culture is to island hop. The easiest way to do this is to book through a tour operator who will tailor a package to suit your requirements. The group of islands known as the Yasawas are easily accessible from the port of Denarau and a designated catamaran runs a hop-on hop-off service most days. Tour companies may offer a stop at one of the three Mamanuca islands; South Sea is a tiny uninhabited island fulfilling the utopian ideal with its white sands, palm trees and clear blue sea. It offers fantastic diving as well as the option to sail by schooner to the island where Castaway was filmed, and visitors are encouraged to sample Kava, a Fijian drink extracted from plant roots.

Each Yasawa island has its own characteristics and qualities. The island of Kuata is perfect if you are looking for a traditional Fijian experience. The accommodation comprises of a large dormitory style room situated within the main village, allowing visitors to live as part of the community. The facilities are basic but more than adequate; hot water on the islands is rare so expect cold showers! Taken on face value, Kuata doesn’t appear to offer much entertainment, however there are activities available that give a real taste of island life. Kuata is dominated by monolithic mountains, so climb through the forest and take in the spectacular panoramic views across the Pacific. Follow this with volleyball on the beach, or eat fresh watermelon with the locals. There is also the opportunity to learn how to create jewellery using natural materials and traditional methods. Evenings on the island are not to be missed; food is provided by the village and is usually in the form of a buffet serving a variety of traditional Fijian cuisine. On certain nights, the locals partake in cultural dance and encourage visitors to join in.

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Manta Ray Island offers a different experience altogether. Situated in the ‘Blue Lagoon’ region of the archipelago, the island is visually stunning, with palm fringed beaches meeting colourful coral reefs. Diving and snorkelling are the main attractions here; the clear seas allow an unparralled insight of life in the ocean, with a variety of tropical fish and reef systems. The island derives its name from the manta ray, a species common to the surrounding waters depending on the season. When rays are spotted, the resort sounds a siren meaning a boat trip is departing to the area they are occupying. There is then the chance to swim with the rays, which can grow up to four metres in length. Be quick though as the boat doesn’t wait for long! In contrast with Kuata, the accommodation is a purpose built resort with dorm rooms, but it fits perfectly with the natural surroundings. The bar is set into the hillside, allowing visitors to admire the amazing sunsets whilst enjoying evening drinks.

Finish the trip with a visit to Beachcomber Island. With a reputation as the ‘party island’, Beachcomber contrasts completely with the calm of Kuata or Manta Ray. It is the ideal destination for a final get together as the island is geared towards ensuring people have a good time. It is also the place to go for water sports; try parasailing or gliding for fantastic aerial views of Fiji. However this is not the island for people who like their own space; the accommodation comprises of one huge dorm room that houses 100 guests so don’t expect a lot of sleep!

Fiji has something for everyone, so plan your trip to incorporate the islands that best suit you. Whether you want to relax, party or increase your understanding of a different culture, the welcoming locals and beautiful environment make Fiji a unique experience.

I travelled with Awesome Adventures Fiji on the 12 day ‘Tropical Awegasm’ package.

2 thoughts on “Fiji: An archipelago of contrasts

  1. Pingback: Fiji Photo Gallery | A Dingo Ate My Jandal

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