Taking advantage of a long weekend is all about smart planning. And if you don’t have anything planned for the bumper crop of long weekends in 2019, you are missing out! With some clever leave planning, you could be enjoying a four or five-day holiday with just one day of leave! Instead of mainstream beach destinations in the region such as Bali or Phuket, embark on a truly relaxing holiday in Fiji, a slice of paradise in the South Pacific.
Fiji, with over 300 islands, boasts of white sand beaches, aquamarine waters teeming with colourful fish and corals, as well as exotic flora and fauna.
The largest islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, accounting for 75 percent of Fiji’s land area. The Mamanucas, made up of 20 islands, is just a short plane or ferry ride from Viti Levu, and is a perfect string of white sand isles that offer larger hotels.
This five-day itinerary is packed with phenomenal experiences, exquisite food and unrivalled hospitality. Get ready for an ultimate long weekend for the memories!
Day 1 – Sample the local culture in Nadi, the gateway to Fiji
Make Nadi, one of the largest and culturally diverse cities in Fiji, your first stop before you head out to discover the rest of Fiji. Nadi, home to the international airport, is a tourism hub on Viti Levu's west coast and 190 kilometres from Fiji’s capital Suva. Its close proximity to Denarau Island, offers the choice of many large chain hotels frequented by visitors around the world, and makes it an ideal base for your Fijian adventure.
About an hour’s drive away from Nadi, Natadola Beach is ideal for swimming at all tides and bodysurfing. If you appreciate vast greenery, you have to visit the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, the attractive landscaped gardens with an impressive collection of some 2,000 varieties of orchids. A jungle walk also takes visitors past a large lily pond and through native forest.
Since Nadi is a Fijian-Indian town, it is only fitting to explore the country’s Indian legacy right here at the Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple – filled with intricate carvings and details you could spend hours examining. There's also a cafe on the grounds where you can get tea and light vegetarian food.
Wrap up your first day picking up traditional Fijian crafts such as wooden kava bowls, and hand-painted saris, at the Curio & Handicraft Market, located in the central business district of Fiji.
Day 2 – Dive with Fiji’s bull sharks
Diving in Fiji is easy, accessible and safe, with certified dive operators available around the country. One of the most popular choices is Beqa Adventure Divers, a multi-award winning dive operator and the steward of the marine reserve.
Venture into the waters of Beqa Lagoon, south of Fiji's main island Viti Levu. There lies the protected Shark Reef Marine Reserve, home to a massive population of sharks. Beqa boasts 20 different dive sites, and has been named the Soft Coral Capital of the world. The shark dive is often called the world’s best with eight different species of shark in a single dive, such as the bull shark, tiger shark, blacktip reefs, tawny nurses and sicklefin lemons.
Day 3 – Hit the islands
Island-hop your way around Fiji with a hop-on hop-off boat pass and visit Mamanuca Islands where Tom Hanks’ Castaway was filmed. The Mananuca Islands is a stunning collection of 20 smaller islands – which include South Sea Island, Bounty Island, and Tavarua Island – closely grouped together over an expanse of 35 square kilometres.
Easily accessible from Viti Levu, the atolls are surrounded by crystal-clear waters and blessed with year-round sunshine, calm seas and gentle ocean breeze. You can also enjoy the country's best water sports such as snorkelling, surfing, scuba diving, game fishing and parasailing.
Day 4 – Go bird watching in Mabualau
Take an early morning boat trip from the main island Viti Levu to nearby Mabualau Island (Bird Island). Perfect for a day trip, the boat ride to the island takes about an hour. Mabualau is a sanctuary for Fiji’s unique endemic birds, such as the red-footed booby, noddys, crested terns, the delicate black-naped tern, reef herons and frigatebirds.
Afterwards, visit reefs and mangrove sanctuaries nearby the Toberua Island Resort. Toberua offers snorkelling and diving trips to sites including Cakautabu (Sacred Reef), Shark Reef, Three Corals and the Wreck, all a short boat ride away.
Day 5 – Soak up the views and unwind in Fiji’s Garden of Eden
Venture out on your last day to Taveuni Island, known as Fiji’s Garden of Eden, teeming with rare orchids, prehistoric tree ferns, tumbling waterfalls and natural water slides. You can get to Taveuni by either air or water, as regular flights and ferries depart from Viti Levu. On Taveuni you can have it all – lush jungle, secluded waterfalls, and abundant wildlife – and it is the place to go if you want to immerse yourself in nature.
Next, pack your hiking shoes and clamber up Tavoro Waterfalls, a series of three waterfalls nestled within the Bouma National Heritage Park. The lower waterfall, at about 80 feet high, is the biggest of the bunch. The middle waterfall, a 30-minute uphill hike from the first, is the second largest. Finally, the third falls is the smallest cast against serene setting.
Another option (and an easier hike) is the Lavena Coastal Walk, which is further south along Taveuni's east coast from the Bouma National Park. There, visitors can get a glimpse of the eccentric mushroom rock formations as well as coastal scenery.
While you may not be able to cover more than 18,000 square metres in five days, with this list, you can maximise your time! Fiji is an amazingly versatile location that can be explored in five days. Whether you are a honeymooner, adventure seeker or an intrepid solo traveller, this ultimate island escape won’t leave you disappointed.
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Best time to visit
Fiji has a year-round tropical weather. Since Fijian islands are located in a pristine location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it allows the islands to enjoy warm weather on a year-round basis. It’s recommended to bring sunscreen with a SPF of 30+.
Getting around Fiji is easy and cheap. There's a good network of buses, carriers (trucks) and ferries for travel within Fiji's main islands. Taxis are common as well.
Besides domestic flights, you may also opt for the passenger ferries to travel between the different islands.
The currency used in Fiji is the Fijian Dollar (FJD). Major credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa and American Express are widely accepted at ATMs, hotels and shops in Fiji.
Direct flights to Fiji via Fiji Airways are available twice a week from Changi Airport, with a third flight during peak season. Check out these exclusive deals for Fiji and stand to win a trip for 2!
Extra travel tips
Bula! Many people who visit Fiji note that the best aspect of their travels is the Fijian people. The Fijian people take pride in their culture and the tourism that their islands attract. Remember, if someone yells “Bula”, they are saying “hello”.
Enjoy a cup of Kava: Kava is a traditional Fijian drink that contains ground pepper plant. Not particularly spicy, the drink has a slight numbing effect on the lips.