A Fiji holiday itinerary for travelling families
Nothing beats sharing overseas experiences with the people who mean most to you. Travelling as a family can forge incredible bonds, inspire new ideas and create memories to last a lifetime.
But as intrepid parents know, taking the kids along for the ride can be challenging. Whether it’s organising passports and visas, ensuring everyone gets on the right bus, or just finding family-friendly accommodation and activities, a lot of planning goes into organising a successful getaway.
Fiji is an ideal host for your next family adventure. However, your tropical holiday requires careful research. This one week Fijian holiday itinerary includes accommodation, activities, cultural sights and natural splendour that the whole family can enjoy.
Day 1 - Exploring Nadi
Almost all international visitors to Fiji will land in Nadi (pronounced ‘nandi’). A lot of these travellers will be in and out in a flash, making a beeline for the resorts of Denarau or the Mamanuca Islands and beyond. However, Nadi itself has a great variety of affordable accommodation options and some noteworthy cultural attractions.
If you’re interested in exploring more of Fiji than the white-sand beaches and tropical cocktails of the island resorts, the diverse and lively Nadi is a great place to get a taste of modern-day Fiji. However, as in any city in a developing nation, there are certain risks that travellers should be aware of.
Things to see
Sri Siva Subramaniya temple: The largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere, the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple is an ornate and impressive must-see attraction for visitors to Nadi. The vegetarian restaurant inside the temple is the perfect place for lunch, but ensure you dress modestly (with covered shoulders and knees).
Nadi market: The open-air market in Nadi is a one-stop shop for fresh fruit, vegetables and even souvenirs for the friends at home. Just remember, avoid eating fruit that has already been peeled and cut - the same knife may have been used to scale and gut yesterday’s fish!
Tata’s restaurant: Tata’s is renowned for its authentic, tasty and affordable Indian cuisine and a great place to eat with the locals. Although stay on the safe side and be conservative with your food choices if you’re not used to a bit of spice, and stick to well-cooked meals.
Things to consider
Pickpocketing and scams are sometimes reported by tourists in Nadi. Tired and unwary travellers who have just landed at the international airport can be a target for thieves and scammers.
Keep your valuables close by when leaving the airport and pay attention to the meter in the taxi. If you’re travelling straight to your hotel from the airport, ask about any shuttle services they may offer.
Day 2 and 3 - Denarau Island
At just 20 minutes’ drive from Nadi, the resorts of Denarau are the ideal place for convenient tropical relaxation. Other tropical hotspots in Fiji, like the Mamanuca Islands and the Yasawa Islands, can only be reached by catamaran or light aircraft, so Denarau is also a great option if you’re short on time.
Luxury hotels like Sheraton and Hilton operate five-star resorts on Denarau and some areas are adults only. Radisson Blu is fast-becoming a family favourite in the area because of its kids club. The Radisson Blu ‘Banana Club’ offers kids a range of supervised activities, from boat building with coconut husks to beach volleyball. Every child under 12 that checks into Radisson Blu is awarded a “Banana Passport”, which gives them access to activities and half price meals for the duration of their stay. For parents hoping to enjoy a moment of tropical solace with the kids under control, the Banana Club is a saviour.
Things to see
Port Denarau: Guests at Denarau could be forgiven for spending their entire stay beside the pool, however the island has a number of attractions beyond the resort walls. The Port Denarau Retail & Commercial Centre has plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes, including a duty free shop.
Big Bula Water Park: The Big Bula Water Park on Denarau Island is the ideal antidote to the steamy tropical heat. Operating all year round, the park has enough slides, inflatables and pools to keep the entire family occupied. All visitors need to sign a waiver before entering the park and children under 12 must be supervised by an adult.
Things to consider
Most of the resorts on Denarau Island have a variety of rental gear available to guests. If you’re snorkelling, sailing, jet skiing or parasailing and aren’t using the resort’s equipment, ensure you rent from a licensed tour operator. Also, never offer your passport as a security deposit when renting equipment. It’s important to book any activities through a licensed operator to ensure you’re covered by your insurer.
Many of the resorts enforce adult-only areas, including pools, which should be adhered to if you’re travelling with the family. Rooms in the pricier resorts can be incredibly expensive, so guests can become easily frustrated by children running around.
Day 4 and 5 - The Mamanuca Islands
The Mamanuca Island group is home to some of the most picturesque tropical landscapes in the world. The 20 islands in the group include big names like Castaway Island, Treasure Island, Malolo Lailai, Tavarua and Namotu, where blinding coral sands and crystal waters are an everyday reality.
Reaching the Mamanucas is easy from Port Denarau, with regular catamaran services to surrounding islands. The Malolocat luxury catamaran transports visitors to the three popular resorts on Malolo Lailai - Plantation Island Resort, Musket Cove and Lomani, which are also open for day trips. A number of the tour operators in Denarau operate island hopping tours of the Mamanucas, which are suitable for families.
Things to see
Malolo Lailai Sandbar: The sandbar off Malolo Lailai is a great family-friendly snorkelling experience. The shallow bank is fringed by beautiful coral reef that is teeming with tropical fish, just be sure to educate the kids on proper snorkel safety. Never stand on the reef when resting, avoid touching coral and fish, and treat even small scrapes and cuts with antiseptic to avoid infection. If you’re cut on the reef, it’s always a safe bet to visit the resort’s medical centre for treatment and advice.
Tivua Island: Captain Cook Cruises run a day cruise to the picturesque Tivua Island, departing from Port Denarau, which includes snorkelling, paddle boarding, glass bottom boat tours and supervised activities for the kids.
Solevu: Solevu, or Shell Village, is the perfect opportunity to experience local Fijian culture. Solevu lies on Malolo Island, which is easily accessible by boat from Malolo Lailai. Plantation Island Resort organise day trips to Shell Village, where a number of resort staff live with their families.
Things to consider
The Mamanuca Islands are exposed to tropical cyclones, which usually occur about once per year between November and May. When severe, these storms can cause significant damage to the islands and require resort guests to evacuate. Consider booking your trip in the dry season (from May to October) for the best chance at a sunny and safe holiday in Fiji. The temperatures can be cooler than the summer months, but the chance of persistent rain and damaging storms is significantly lower.
If you’re visiting Solevu with the family, or any other Fijian village in the Mamanucas, it’s a good idea to become familiar with local etiquette. Remember to:
- Dress conservatively. Women should keep their shoulders and knees covered, and men should avoid wearing shorts and singlets in the village.
- Remove hats and sunglasses when walking around the village because it’s insulting to the chief.
- Remove your shoes if you’re invited into a home.
- Keep your voice down, avoid pointing directly at someone, and don’t swear.
Day 6 and 7 - The Coral Coast
On the surface, Fiji’s Coral Coast may look like any other resort destination in the country. However, the 80km stretch of scenic beaches and serene bays is punctuated with authentic local villages, fishing towns and unique attractions you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
Things to see
Kula Adventure Park: The Kula Wild Adventure Park is a staple of the Coral Coast. The park is famous for its conservation and breeding programs, and a great way for the kids to get up close and personal with Fiji’s stunning wildlife with walk-through enclosures. Kula also offers tours, animal displays and rides, including Fiji’s only roller-coaster zip rail.
Kalevu Cultural Centre: The Kalevu Cultural Centre is one of only two cultural centres on Viti Levu, and the perfect conclusion to an authentic Fijian holiday. Kalevu simulates a traditional Fijian village, with bures that accurately depict traditional life. The kids will love the impressive weapons used by Fijian warriors and the fire dances. Although the centre is located inside the Gecko’s Resort, you don’t need to be a resort guest to visit.
Things to consider
Many of the activities on the Coral Coast aren’t as low-risk as a day beside the resort pool. For example, the Sigatoka River Safari shoots travellers deep into the Fijian countryside on a speed boat, visiting villages and cultural sights along the way. If you’re embarking on one of the area’s many tours, or just day tripping through Sigatoka, keep your valuables secured in the resort safe. A lost or damaged passport can make your return home from Nadi a difficult exercise and a frustrating end to your holiday.
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