Languages: English, Fijian, Hindi
Why We Love Fiji
Is an island country in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tongato the east, the Samoas and France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north.
Things To Do
Decompress on Viti Levu
Fiji’s largest isle, Vitu Levu, is home to the official capital, Suva (on the east coast), as well as the tourism capital, Nadi, arrival point for international flights via Air Pacific. But don’t hop on that interisland flight right away. Take a taxi ride from Nadi International Airport to the forested foothills of the Sabeto Range where late actor Raymond Burr (of Perry Mason fame) created the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, a botanic sanctuary of vanilla-scented orchids and Zen-like lily ponds.
See Fire-Walking on Beqa
Located just off Vitu Levu’s southern coast is Beqa Island and the surrounding Beqa Lagoon, home to more than 100 dives sites, some just a five- to 20-minute boat ride from shore. See why Fiji is considered the soft coral capital of the world as you spy on blue ribbon eels, ghost pipefish, seahorses, pelagics and more — most at depths above 50 feet. But it’s not just about underwater sightseeing. Beqa Island is home to the Sawau tribe, who originated the traditional art of fire-walking.
The indigenous culture is an active and living part of everyday life for the majority of the population. However, it has evolved with the introduction of vibrant and old cultures including Indian, Chinese and European culture, and various cultures from the Pacific neighbors of Fiji; in particular the Tongan and Rotuman cultures. The culture of Fiji, including language, has created a unique communal and national identity.
More than 330 islands make up Fiji, and many species of animals and plants on the islands are endemic to Fiji, found nowhere else in the world. The largest island is Viti Levu and is 4,042 square miles. The island is home to the country’s capital, the coastal city of Suva. Approximately 70 percent of Fiji’s residents live on Viti Levu. The island's interior has dramatic landscapes of tropical forests, waterfalls and mountainous terrain.
Fiji has several mountains, many in dramatic cone shapes, covered in lush vegetation of tropical plants adding to the country’s paradisiacal aura. Mountain climbing is a popular activity for tourists. Mount Tomanivi is Fiji’s highest mountain. The extinct volcano is 4,341 feet high and located on Viti Levu; its top often is covered by clouds. Other mountains on Fiji include Mount Uluigalau (4,071 feet) on Taveuni, Mount Manuka (3,917 feet) on Vanua Levu, Mount Buke Levu (3,800 feet) on Kadavu, Mount Delaitho (2,421 feet) on Gau, Mount Delaiovalau (2,053 feet) on Ovalau and Mount Manuka (3,917 feet) on Vanua Levu.
Fiji’s remaining volcanoes are scattered around the country and still have thermal activity. Some of the volcanoes have not erupted in several hundred years. Koro is a cinder cone volcano that rises 1,713 feet high between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu islands. Nabukelevu is a complex of lava domes on Kadavu island. The highest point of Nabukelevu is 2,641 feet, and its last eruption occurred around 1660. Taveuni, a massive shield volcano with more than 100 cones, makes up Fiji’s third largest island. The summit of Taveuni is 4,071 feet high. Virgin rain forests and endemic flora flourish in the island’s rich volcanic soil. Taveuni’s last known eruption occurred approximately 500 years ago.
Fiji’s landforms off the coast include more than 6,000 square miles of stunning coral reefs considered to be among the most beautiful in the world, according to the Coral Reef Alliance. The beauty of the reefs attracts tourists from all over the globe. Scientists and conservationists also flock to Fiji to study the biodiversity of the coral reef system and how to protect it from damage. Fiji’s reef system contains more than 298 species of hard coral, 1,198 species of reef fish and 467 species of mollusks.
The total membership of other ethnic groups of Pacific Islanders is about 7300. Tongans, who as traders and warriors have lived in Fiji for hundreds of years, form the largest part of this community. In the old days there was active commerce between Tonga and Fiji, and later in the history of this relationship the Fijians in the Lau Islands became vassals to the King of Tonga. One particular reason Tongans and Samoans came to Fiji was to build drua (large double-hulled canoes) which they couldn’t build on their own islands because of the lack of proper timber.
The second most important members of this group numerically are the Banabans, who are Micronesians. Originally from minuscule Ocean Island, which lies just south of the equator
HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
Fiji International Jazz and Blues Festival
Port Denarau is host to the Fiji International Jazz and Blues Festival. It spans three days in May and welcomes many local and international jazz and blues musicians to perform. Australian, American, European, and New Zealand musicians make up most of the performers. The festival is a great time visit Port Denarau as the sights and sounds of the event are unmatched during the rest of the year.
Held across several days in mid-July, the Bula Fiji Festival is a fantastic celebration of the island nation’s heritage. Singing and dancing take center stage in the city of Nadi, and a parade is usually the spotlight of the event. At the end of the celebrations, a young woman is crowned Miss Bula for the year.
Due to Fiji’s large Indian population, the Diwali Festival is one of the main events held on the islands. Celebrated in the month of October, Diwali (which is also known as the Festival of Lights) is characterized by fantastic light shows, traditional firecracker displays, and plenty of night-time fun. It isn’t just the Indian population that gets into the swing of things, as all cultures love any excuse to party.
The event is held in several areas around Fiji in the month of August and has recently spread to other Pacific Islands nations. The Miss Hibiscus title is a coveted part of the event, drawing thousands of entrants from across the Fiji islands. In addition, local arts, crafts, sports, music, food, dance, and songs are exhibited throughout the festival.