Kicking Back: Fiji
Let Fiji’s swirl of soft corals and tropical Zen soothe your soul.
BY TERRY WARD
TOURS | DUBLIN
Cruising into the port of Suva, nearly 5,000 nautical miles from Los Angeles and more than 2,100 from Sydney, there is something simply magical about arriving by cruise ship in Fiji. One of the world’s most spectacularly beautiful and remote tropical archipelagos, it boasts unparalleled coral reefs teeming with fish and people who personify the warmth of their flower-filled corner of the planet. Multiple cruise lines, such as Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Princess Cruises, call into port in Fiji on itineraries departing from destinations like Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles. And for travelers with time, a South Pacific itinerary with those cruise lines, among others, offers shore leave enjoying the soft coral capital of the world. Just donning a snorkel, mask and fins on Fiji’s pristine reefs brings into view what might be the most sensational underwater scene of your life (picture a neon-colored world of purple, green and pink corals populated by a rainbow assortment of reef fish). For a longer stay (most ports of call are just a day or two), however, plan to fly into Fiji and make time for island-hopping in one of the most sublime tropical destinations on earth. Wherever you go in this archipelago, locals bellow out to you with a friendly welcome (“Bula!”), and authentic adventures await. Only about a third of Fiji’s 333 islands are inhabited. And while most visitors settle into resorts on the main islands of Viti Levu or Vanua Levu or arrive by boat or seaplane to private islands just offshore, having more time here allows you to venture farther afield to the garden island of Taveuni or to Kadavu, Fiji’s fourth-largest island, for snorkeling or diving among the incredible soft coral gardens of the Great Astrolabe Reef. Prefer adventures on land? You’ll find no shortage of those in Fiji, whether you head off for a whitewater rafting excursion along the Upper Navua River on Viti Levu, settle in to marvel as members of the fire-walking Sawua tribe tread across white-hot rocks on Beqa island or join a kava ceremony during a village visit (a common offering from both island guest houses and resorts) to try Fiji’s mildly narcotic national beverage. For traveling families, Fiji resorts often include complimentary nanny services and kids clubs for young kids, as well as teen amenities, as standard offerings. That gives parents time to head offshore for scuba diving or deep-sea fishing, or just to settle in for a decadent treatment at a resort spa, where traditional deep-tissue Fijian Bobo massages often appear on the menu. Giving back can be part of your vacation here, too. Case in point: At Jean-michel Cousteau Resort Fiji on Vanua Levu, you can join the resort’s resident marine biologist to plant corals or learn how giant clam stocks are rehabilitated to protect the surrounding reefs. At Six Senses Fiji, several programs support Rise Beyond the Reef, an organization benefiting local village women. If there’s an island chain where a family, couple or solo traveler can choose their own tropical adventure, fabulous Fiji is it.