Finding Hospitality, Nature & Authenticity in Fiji 

With over 330 islands, Fiji is one of the South Pacific’s most alluring destinations, offering endless variety of activities, luxurious stays, and that world-famous Fiji smile. Cries of Bula! greet you as you step off the plane in Nadi, Fiji’s international gateway, which receives daily flights from North America, Australia, the South Pacific and beyond. Each visitor is here to find their own magical slice of Fiji, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s worth exploring beyond the country’s largest island, Viti Levu. 

Vanua Levu is a different Fiji, which, for now at least, offers a more local taste of the country, less driven by the steady hum of tourism. Home to 160,000 people, it’s Fiji’s second largest island, and a great place to see and learn about local life while still enjoying the comfort, luxury, and hospitality the country is famous for. Savusavu is the largest town on Vanua Levu, and is conveniently located in the centre of the island’s south coast. So, basing yourself at a resort near here, such as Savasi Island Resort, puts you within reach of all the island’s best activities, with local restaurants, bars and shops a short ride away.  

Diving & Snorkelling in Fiji 

Fiji is a haven for snorkelling and diving. (©Tourism Fiji)

While there are gorgeous reefs to be found across Fiji’s waters, one of its star attractions is the Rainbow Reef. Divers, take note. This is one of the most stunning and colourful dive sites you’ll ever explore, harbouring 1,200 species of fish and all 27 of Fiji’s butterfly fish species. Over 230 types of hard and soft coral create a splendid underwater collage that reminds you just how far from the cares of everyday life you are.  

It’s a bit ironic that the reef’s best-known formation is almost entirely white, but the Great White Wall will convince you you’re seeing a pristine snow field underwater. More experienced divers who can handle the treacherous currents of the Somosomo Strait will spot beautiful soft blue corals, while turtles, harmless reef sharks, and from May to October, awesome manta rays will thrill divers at all levels. 

Not certified to dive? Don’t worry! Fiji is a fantastic place to learn, but if you don’t have time for that, snorkelling and glass-bottom boat tours are extremely popular, with many departing from Savusavu and the surrounding resorts. You can also follow the natural-born swimmers on a day cruise, tracking spinner dolphin pods on Natewa Bay. 

Best Things to Do on Vanua Levu 

A Bilibili raft journey is a fun way to explore the inland. (©Tourism Fiji)

While the ocean offers many of Fiji’s main attractions, Vanua Levu is a vibrant, diverse island offering its own natural and cultural delights. A village visit is always popular, thanks to the hospitality and rich culture of the Fijians. Participate in a kava ceremony for a proper Fiji welcome!  

Indian and Hindu culture are deeply embedded in Fiji’s identity. Outside Labasa in northern Vanua Levu, less than two hours’ drive from Savusavu, you can visit Naag Mandir Temple. On the surface, it looks like any of the countless Hindu temples around the country. But a variety of local legends, from the cobra-shaped rock’s healing properties to its unexplained growth spurt (from 6ft to 17ft), make Naag Mandir a special place for locals, and a must-visit for mystery lovers. Make a day of it to justify the drive, perhaps enjoying a soak in Waiqele Hot Springs, relaxing on Korovatu Beach, or immersing yourself in Indo-Fijian culture in Labasa, one of the best places to try Indo-Fijian cuisine, or have a sari made. 

Just outside Savusavu, Flora Tropica Botanical Gardens collects Fiji’s most beautiful plants in one easily reached location. If you’re feeling a bit weary from all that activity, take some time to float on the Salt Lake, where you can feel the world’s cares gently fall away, one muscle at a time. 

Fiji for Luxury Travel 

Fiji is a popular honeymoon destination as well as a vacation getaway for families. (©Tourism Fiji)

Fiji’s well-developed tourist infrastructure offers a resort stay for almost every budget. Some cater more to families, while others cater to honeymooners or adventure-seekers. Travellers who want a taste of the high life on vacation are well catered to! The Mamanuca Islands are perhaps the best-known spot for luxury in Fiji, but even close to the larger centres like Nadi and Savusavu, it’s easy to find small, boutique resorts that offer a secluded, luxurious experience at a fair price. In short, you can find a luxury stay in almost any of Fiji’s popular regions, so choose based on which offers the experiences you’re seeking. 

Best Souvenirs from Fiji 

Sawai-i-Lau Island is one of the gorgeous islands of the northern Yasawa Island group. (©Tourism Fiji)

An easy way to take home your own little piece of Fiji is to pick up some of its famous pearls. Renowned for their metallic blue, green, and bronze hues, these have long been prized throughout the South Pacific, and make a beautiful keepsake from these islands. You can even snorkel over the shell beds where the pearls are formed, and in season, watch the harvesting and shelling process. 

Another great memento from Vanua Levu—albeit, maybe not a long-lasting one—is chocolate! Vanua Levu is the heart of Fiji’s small but mighty chocolate industry, with tasting tours running from Savusavu and its surrounds.  

Where to Stay on Vanua Levu 

Coconut trees are your everpresent companions on the beaches of Fiji. (©Tourism Fiji)

There’s no right answer to this question, but as we already mentioned, staying near Savusavu gives you easy access to most of Vanua Levu’s best loved tourist attractions while still keeping you close to local life in Fiji. Savasi Island Resort is one of our favourites on the island, located just a seven-minute drive from Savusavu Airport. Offering just 11 spacious villas, sea views, and all Vanua Levu’s beautiful southern coast has to offer, from wildlife experiences to underwater activities. Its proximity to Savusavu also gives easy access to activities on land, with transfers to other parts of the island such as Labasa. 

A world away from the cares of home, Fiji invites you to slow down to Fiji time, finding your own style of luxury, adventure, and authenticity in a South Pacific paradise. 

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Christian Baines
Christian Baines

Globetrotting Contributing Editor -
Christian’s first globetrotting adventure saw him get lost exploring the streets of Saigon. Following his nose to Asia’s best coffee, two lifelong addictions were born. A freelance writer and novelist, Christian’s travels have since taken him around his native Australia, Asia, Europe, and much of North America. His favourite trips have been through Japan, Spain, and Brazil, though with a love of off-beat, artsy cities, he’ll seize any opportunity to return to Paris, New York, or Berlin.

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