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Fiji See And Do

Beaches
Fiji

Though they tend to be smaller and on the narrow side, there are so many pretty beaches in Fiji, they are impossible to not find. Trying to identify the best beaches in Fiji is easy however–they are often already the location of a tony resort. Among the resort beaches, standouts include Vatulele Island off Viti Levu, Quamea Resort off Tavenui Island, Navutu Stars and Yasawa Island. In general, the best beaches are found in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands (thus, all the resorts concentrated there). Some of the most notable in the Mamanucas are on the smaller islands–Beachcomber, Bounty, and Castaway–and you can see these on a day trip from Nadi (see South Sea Cruises), and patronize the sometimes rowdy bars and restaurants at the resorts there. Mana Island is also a stop on South Sea Cruises and is a bit bigger and more upscale. The outer islands of Matamanoa, (next to Monuriki where the Tom Hanks' movie Cast Away was filmed), Tokoriki, and Vomo also have lovely beaches but are private island resorts.

The best beaches in the Yasawa Group, are on Waya Island and Natuvalo Bay on Naviti Island, and on Tavewa island and Matacawa Levu Islands' south side.

Firewalking Ceremonies
Fiji

Fijian firewalking or "Vilavilairevo", which translates as "jumping into the oven", is the ability to walk barefoot upon hot rocks and not get burned. As the legend goes, it can only be performed by the people of Beqa island, descendants of Tui Qualita, who is said to have captured a spirit god named Tui Namoliwai. The spirit god offered the man supernatural powers in exchange for his release, but Tui Qualita turned each one down. The only promise that tempted him was power over fire. So they prepared a hot pit of stones and Tui Namoliwai instructed Tui Qualita to walk into it with him. He did and wasn't burned. Tui Namoliwai promised him that from that day on, he and his descendants would always have that power. There are nine villages on Beqa and each with about 200 residents. Youngsters start training for firewalking as early as age 8, though it is not performed until age 16. Mindboggling demonstrations of firewalking have become commonplace at resorts all over Fiji, though all firewalkers performing the ritual likely hail from Beqa island.

Fishing and Sailing
Ika Levu Fishing Charters
Fiji
Tel: 679 944 8506
www.fishinginfiji.com

The Fijian islands are near nirvana for anyone who loves sailing or sport-fishing. Your catch of the day might be marlin, tuna, wahoo, mahimahi, or barracuda. Based on Vanua Levu, this Australian-run outfit offers 1/2 day or full-day fishing charters, and while you are welcome to bring your own equipment, they provide quality, modern Penn and Shimano tackle as well. Or if you prefer to sail your way around the islands at a leisurely pace, looking for the best surf, dive, and fishing spots, Ika Levu also has another vessel, a 41-foot Steber called "Our Way", with two guest cabins and two baths, available for overnight trips or longer term sails throughout Fiji. The crews are fully licensed, have considerable local knowledge, and will work with you to design a custom trip, complete with catering and whatever onboard amenities you desire. However, if you fail to plan in advance, don't rule out a last minute day of fishing or sailing. As you might imagine, there is no shortage of sailboats in Fiji. Regardless of where you stay, the front desk is likely to be able to arrange on-a-whim trips.

Jack's of Nadi
401-403 Main Street
Nadi , Viti Levu
Tel: 679 670 0744
www.jacksfiji.com

If you're looking for one-stop shopping, Jack's in Nadi town is the obvious solution, and they offer fair prices on lovely carved Tanoa (Kava drinking); cannibal forks (based on the little spears once used by Fijians to eat the flesh of fallen enemies and their families); and a full selection of Pure Fiji and other copycat coconut-based and tropical-flower infused bath and beauty products. Be sure to bargain on prices on the wood-carved items if you are buying multiples, and have them wrap the items for you, so they are ready to stick into your checked luggage. This is an Indo-Fijian owned chain; the same family owns the Chefs and Saffron restaurants, as well as several other Jack's outlets in Fiji. If you don't make it here, most of these items can be purchased at Nadi Airport, though at higher prices.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 5 pm.

Kava Ceremonies
Fiji

Kava is a drink made from the yaqona root, an uncontrolled substance that is widely consumed–and in some cases abused–by Fijians. But the drink is central to Fijian culture, and the social ceremony can be a highlight for visitors. Locals play music and sing folk songs, while one person prepares the kava in a large bowl called a Tanoa. Drinkers sit in a circle and drink their kava one bowl at a time. It's not unusual to drink two or three bowls in a half hour, and maybe up to a dozen over a two-hour period, but it's considered good form to stop drinking before 9 pm so that you have ample recovery time before the following day. Anything more would be considered sloppy and is only acceptable behavior on special occasions and holidays.

Even after one cup, you can feel the drink's effects: your mouth is coated with a thin film, and you'll experience a mild tingling in the back of the throat and tip of the tongue. Kava makes you have very vivid dreams, which could be good or bad depending on your state of mind, and is rumored to help with hypertension and high blood pressure. Kava is also used as a cure for insomnia, though if you drink too much of it, it can have the reverse effect. The hardest thing to describe about kava is how it tastes. It looks like dirty dishwater and people say that's what it tastes like. Let's just go with the diplomatic response–it's an "earthy" kind of flavor that's most certainly an acquired taste.

Shark Diving
Bequ Adventure Divers
Lagoon Resort
Pacific Harbour
Viti Levu
Fiji
Tel: 679 345 0911
www.fiji-sharks.com

The Shark Reef Marine Reserve is rated among the best shark dives in the world. They guarantee you will see up to eight species of sharks, including bull, tiger, nurse, lemon, silvertips, whitetip reef, grey reef, and blacktip reef, all just a 15-minute trip offshore from Pacific Harbour in their 30 foot dive boat, aptly named "Predator". Their selling point is that their shark feeders are from the Beqa villages that have an ancestral covenant with the Shark God "Dakuwanga", and they certainly seem to run a respectful and friendly operation. Actually, you get two shark dives: the first is in "The Arena" off the steep ledge of Beqa Passage where the big fish hang-out. Next you head to "The Den" to see the smaller sharks and over 300 species of tropical fish. The whole excursion is about two hours, with about an hour in the water, and the other in transport on the boat, where they provide much-appreciated warm towels, snacks, and drinks.

Trips on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday beginning at 8:30 am.

South Sea Cruises
Fiji
Tel: 679 675 0500
www.ssc.com.fj

Though the boats leave from Port Denarau Marina right next to the islands hideous mini mall, and though you are initially herded like cattle to get on the boat, this is one of the best ways to tour the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands in a single day from Nadi, or arrange for an inexpensive transfer to your resort (i.e. Liku Liku Lagoon Resort on Malolo Island). Opt for a seat in the Captain's Lounge. It's a nominal extra fee for a lot of perks, including a more spacious and air-conditioned cabin and waiters to bring you drinks. The full-day and half-day tours include lunch, and, depending on which route you choose, several stops on various islands where you can swim, snorkel, sunbathe, and wander around for a bit. However, be prepared for lots of families and little kids afoot.

Surfing
Fiji

Fiji the pioneered the upscale surf camp trend with the Tavarua Island Resort and Namotu Island Resort in Mamanuca Islands. They only accept people booking in for at least one full week, and the wait to get in can be up to a year due in large part to professional surfers and surf companies who use the resorts for retreats, photo shoots, and contests. What you pay for here is exclusive access to world-class waves like Cloudbreak, Namotu Left, and Swimming Pools: somehow the owners of the resorts have negotiated sole access to these waves with the local chiefs, and you cant even hire your own boat to take you out there or you'll be chased off. The one exception is if you book surfing lessons or tours through the Fiji Surf/Viti Surf Legend Shop in Nadi. The Fijian owner, Ian Muller, was able to gain limited access for his clients. There are several other known surf spots in Fiji, like Sigatoka and Natadola Beach on Viti Levu, and Frigates Passage off Beqa Island, considered the Fijian "Pipeline". There are other lesser known breaks around Fiji, but be forewarned, few of Fijis reef breaks are for beginners. Bigger surf rolls in April to October, but there are waves all year-round.

Village Tours
Fiji

Fiji's cannibal roots caused Captain Bligh of The Bounty fame to swear he would never land there. The tribal system remains largely in tact (albeit in a much friendlier form). Though Commodore Frank Bainimarama's military government temporarily cut them out of government participate, the Great Council of Chiefs previously exerted a lot of influence over civil affairs. Also, the chiefs and villagers still own most of their lands, which they lease to the resorts. The villagers often provide staff for the resorts they lease land to, which contributes greatly to the feelings of goodwill between locals and resort owners. Most resorts offer village tours so guests can see what the local communities are building with the rental income. But don't expect anything more grand than schools and churches, infrastructure, and agriculture: people still live simply and maintain their traditional ways of life. Still, village tours are an excellent opportunity to see your impact as a tourist on the country and, in some cases, to buy traditional crafts directly from the makers.

Whitewater Rafting
Rivers Fiji
Fiji
Tel: 679 345 0147
www.riversfiji.com

You're expecting beaches and tropical fish in Fiji, but Class III rapids? Yes, the Luva River in the Namosi highlands and the upper Navua River on Viti Levu both offer fun whitewater, easily accessed by a day or overnight camping tour with Rivers Fiji (not for children under eight). The company also helped form the Upper Navua Conservation Area in cooperation with the Native Land Trust Board, and as of 2006, it's been recognized as a Ramsar site. Rivers Fiji also offer sea kayaking trips, and will pick up guests anywhere in the Nadi or Suva area, and along the Coral Coast. All trip equipment is provided, along with snacks and a full lunch on the river. A peek into highland village life and rainforests requires some strong mosquito repellent.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.