Beyond the Brochures: Active Fiji

By Holly Thomas

Long known for its white-sand beaches, swaying palms, azure seas, and clear skies, Fiji consistently ranks as one of the premier multisport destinations in the South Pacific. You can surf 15-foot swells, take rainforest hikes to misting waterfalls, scuba dive in translucent waters, raft one of Polynesia's most beautiful rivers, sea kayak through a maze of unspoiled islands, and still find that utterly secluded beach by sunset—provided you know where to look. And with 330 islands to choose from, that's actually a lot harder than it sounds. Your best bet is to therefore define your active interests (which include the full spectrum of warm-weather adventures), and then plan accordingly.
Scuba divers curious to see if Fiji lives up to its underwater reputation should target the northern islands of Matagi, Taveuni, and Vanua Levu (especially where the Savasavu Bay meets the Koro Sea). Paddlers can run the Class III-IV rapids of Viti Levu's Navua Gorge, or sea kayak through the chain of 16 small outer islands off Yasawas stretched across 50 miles of the Pacific or lose themselves for weeks in the southeastern Lau Group. Or point your impulses north and check out Turtle Island off Vanue Levu, made famous by the movie The Blue Lagoon and a sterling example of how ecotourism, sea kayaking, and haute-yet-simple island living can peacefully coexist.
For hikers, the trails through the Nausori Highlands feature both rolling hills and volcanic peaks; the two-day Sigatoka River trek near Nadarivatu is unforgettable; and Koroyanitu National Park, where rainforest trails pass through local villages, will keep all thoughts of home far from your mind.
Anglers can catch their fill of wahoo, marlin, and yellowfin tuna in the waters off Bega and the Mamanucas. And Fiji's legendary Endless Summer swells can be found at Tavarua, a 30-acre island with killer left curls reachable only by boat.
Fiji carries a certain reputation, however, that's hard to shake—getting there is pricey. To avoid signing another mortgage, plan well in advance, and keep tabs on fluctuating airline costs. Surprisingly, package trips—typically the bane of adventure travelers—can prove to be more affordable than most independent travel, especially if your activity includes the use of high-end equipment like scuba diving. Divers have another consideration that will dictate the overall cost, even after reaching the archipelago: Whether to enroll with a land-based operation or sign up for a live-aboard boating trip (the latter is more expensive—but offers incredible flexibility, and typically targets discover seldom-seen dive sites).
But don't let the cost discourage too much; once in Fiji, there's enough low-cost adventure and lodging options to make this Polynesian land your paradise. After all, to imbibe on one of the islands' best attractions, all you need is a beach towel, a stretch of sand, an affection for sunny skies and azure water.

Published: 19 Jun 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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