Fiji: the ultimate post-pandemic utopia
Warm welcomes, stunning beaches and sensational food: Fiji is the perfect destination for getting your groove back, says writer and South Pacific regular Celeste Brash
This is what you’ve been dreaming of: humid warmth, the scent of plumeria and the sound of gentle waves lapping on sugary sands. But Fiji is more than a postcard come to life. Its 333 islands are imbued with a soul-healing joy that unfurrows your brow, inspires frolicking in the ocean and lets you sleep deeply after each fiery sunset.
The bula spirit
Bula means ‘life’ in Fijian and you’ll hear this word everywhere. It’s used as hello, said to people when they sneeze and uttered as a form of ‘cheers’ before taking a swig of the local grog, kava. Most importantly, there’s kindness and usually a giant smile behind bula greetings. Locals will chat to you in the street like an old friend, you may get welcomed into people’s homes and, in general, you’ll be treated more like a special visitor than a tourist. Society here is village based and tight knit, with everyone caring for children (as they’ll care for yours) and supporting each other. After the confinement and solitude of recent times, this sense of community is a true panacea.
With visibility regularly exceeding 30m, and flamboyantly coloured soft corals and marine life ranging from electric-hued fish to sea turtles, Fiji is rightfully considered one of the premier underwater destinations on the planet. Choose your adrenalin level from splashing around on the beach to snorkelling with graceful manta rays or scuba diving with hammerhead sharks. Nothing makes the body and mind feel better than a dip into a warm sea – even looking at it is like taking a big, deep breath.
Melanesian staples such as coconut cream, tropical fruits, taro, pork and the freshest seafood on the planet are spiced up by Indian and Chinese influences, making Fiji a diverse culinary destination. Most produce is farmed organically in the islands and the flavours pop, whether you’re dining at a resort or snacking at a local market. Western fair is ubiquitous, too, as are Indian curry shops that make you wonder if you haven’t been transported to the subcontinent. It’s all healthy, feelgood fare that makes paradise that much sweeter.
Family fun to romantic resorts
Whether you’re craving a getaway with the family or as a couple, there’s a perfect Fiji resort for your dream vacation. Fiji is known for its child-friendly services and patient, loving mei-meis (nannies). Kids to teens will be spoiled with outdoor activities, and couples looking for time alone can leave their babies in warm and experienced hands. For romantic getaways, there are sublime adults-only resorts, too, some with extras ranging from a picnic for two on a deserted island to sailboat charters and candlelit dinners on the beach. Pamper yourself at the spa wherever you might land. You deserve it.
Where culture and outdoor sports mingle
May to October is Fiji’s surf season, with large swells moving in from the south. Legendary reef barrels such as Cloudbreak and Restaurants are for the pros, but there are plenty of beach breaks for beginners and everyone in between. Otherwise, veer inland to mix culture with adrenalin on a jet-boat safari up the verdant Sigatoka River, a visit to Naihehe (Fiji’s largest cave system) or a hike through rainforests to majestic waterfalls. On your journey, enjoy village visits, dance performances, listen to legends about the area and perhaps participate in a kava ceremony.
Caving into Kava
Chances are you’ll be offered slightly heady kava in Fiji (locally called yaqona). Expect a warm, social experience that connects people and leaves you with a calm sense of wellbeing. Kava drinking ranges from highly ceremonial for events to casually getting invited into someone’s hut for a bowl or two as a friendly gesture. It tastes like muddy water and makes your mouth numb but it’s a true Fijian experience that makes you momentarily forget your troubles and sink further into island bliss.
Fly direct to Los Angeles with British Airways, and then on a connecting flight to Nadi, Fiji, with oneworld connect partner Fiji Airways, which provides access to the Pacific Islands through its hubs in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.