Growing up in Fiji with palm-fringed beaches, beautiful reefs,turquoise water, white sandy beaches and rapid rivers, I took the beauty of my nation for granted. I only realised our paradise isles is a vision of nirvana to travellers world over as I started trotting the globe 20 years ago and never found any destination as enchanting as what I left behind.
Whatever you look for in a holiday, Fiji is a land of contrasts that perfectly mixes beauty, serenity, adventure coupled with the friendliest people on earth whose smiles remain in your heart long after you have left the islands. Couple that with memories of swimming, diving, volcanic mountains, sandy beaches, tropical rainforest, green plantations and luxury resorts nestled within over 322 islands, most of which are exclusive resorts, and you have a holiday that remains unmatched for years.
We are a small nation and only about 100 of these islands are populated, while the rest are designated nature reserves. Visitors can explore through Fiji’s lush tropical rainforests on the most thrilling canopy zip lines in the South Pacific. But the adventure does not just stop with zip lining, rafting as hundreds of people converge into the islands for ocean surfing as well.
Middle Eastern visitors to Fiji are memerised by the numerous cruises on offer. I particularly love the Blue Lagoon Cruises that is a sea lovers dream. Most sea cruises in Fiji feature traditional dance performances called meke that incorporates a men’s spear dance and women’s fan dance while narrating important events in Fijian cultural history. Fiji is rich history and still hold traditional ceremonies like kava drinking and fire walking rituals.
The mainland, Viti Levu, the country’s largest and most developed island is popular. My favourite area is Denarau Island, home to 670 acres of lush tropical landscaped gardens, 18 hole golf course, luxury resorts, an upcoming Grand Casino, leisure activities and great shopping with boat trips that remained unmatched to anywhere in the world.
Watersports is a major attraction for tourists in Fiji who can indulge in diving, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, white water rafting or just enjoy the beaches. Some may head to the Sabeto Hot Springs, thought to have healing properties and cure minor ailments the natural way..
Fiji has interesting flora and fauna throughout the vast landscape. Travelers will most likely see iguanas, geckos, frogs, sea turtles and colorful tree frogs. Fiji has over 100 bird species, including several kinds of parrots, lorikeets, fantails, and honeyeaters flying above. A must visit is the Kula Bird Park is a wildlife sanctuary that has wooden walkways and great place to buy art and crafts.
Our nation boasts beautiful arts and crafts influenced from Polynesian and Melanesian roots. Women’s pottery is particularly famous, as it is traditional and still governed by strict rituals. Fijian women also make tapa, which are charcoal symbols and cultural drawings made on mulberry bark while the men delve into traditional canoe-building.
The clear blue Fiji waters are home to an incredible array of other marine life, from dolphins and reef sharks to different species of rays and a rainbow of fish.Another great attraction to visit is the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park, an ecotourism project that is ideal for nature lovers and hikers for bird-watching, hiking, bathing in waterfalls and visiting archaeological sites.
Garden of the Sleeping Giant also contains many varieties of beautiful Asian orchids and a museum.This museum highlights Fiji’s archaeological, political, cultural and linguistic evolution. Another garden my daughter loved during our last visit was the Thurston Gardens with pristine greenery and perfect for picnics.
Every Fijian abroad will tell you the thing they miss most about Fiji is the fresh, organic ingredients for cooking and traditional island feasts. Tropical fruitsin Fiji are delicious. Fresh produce such as guava, mango, and pineapple, breadfruit, taro root, yam, and cassava, poultry and a scrumptious array of fresh seafood are found in abundance.
Fijian food is a fusion of Polynesian, Melanesian, Indian, and Western cuisine. Dishes are not to be missed include kakoda, a local fish steamed in coconut and lime and lovo, a mix of meat, fish, vegetables and fruits cooked underground in a covered pit.
The sea water in most islands are a stunning blue set against white sand, and the snorkeling and diving are legendary but my personal favourite is the Mamanuca area. Travelers looking for a more secluded spot should head to the Yasawa Islands featuring lagoons and deserted palm beaches that truly live up to the title of island paradise.
If you are looking for adventure, Skydive Fiji offers solo or tandem jumps with views of beautiful coral reefs and the islands from 14,000 feet above. Or speak to your hotel about friendly touch/rugby matches, netball, soccer, golfing, fishing, hiking, biking, natural mud baths, massages, scenic flights, bus tours or heritage visits to villages.
The best route to get to Fiji from Dubai is via Seoul on Korean Air as the journey is not as stressful with a short break in between. The airport is modern and without leaving the airport, I am able to have a short nap at the hotel for a few hours as well as enjoy the traditional art and crafts activities with a visit to the museum within the terminal. Korean Air has a modern fleet with great service and connections.
Fiji is tailor made for relaxation, authentic experiences and adrenaline filled adventures. It truly is a land of joy, peace, tranquility and harmony.
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