My first trip to Fiji almost 20 years ago was in the wake of a coup, and despite the lack of tourists, the Fijians greeted us with wide welcoming smiles. I recall a full orchestra playing for a handful of guests at the then Regent Hotel and a thunderous rainstorm pelting the rooftop of the old Grand Pacific in Suva, reminding me of Somerset Maugham’s short story Rain. Today, a few coups later, the Fijians are still smiling and rightly so. Fiji has grown from a traveler’s stopover to Australia and New Zealand to a world-class destination, a paradise where anything is possible.
More than 300 islands make up this fabulous archipelago floating in the South Pacific blue, though most of them are uninhabited. The largest island, Vitu Levu boasts much of the resort development like the Coral Coast, Pacific Harbor, and the Nadi area including Denarau Island. To the north, the second and third largest islands, Vanua Levu and Taveuni are known for their smaller more intimate resorts with spectacular diving reefs. The Kadavu Group, Fiji’s fourth largest, lies about 60 miles south of Vitu Levu and is also great for divers. The Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands are peppered with backpacker resorts as well as a number of five-star properties. The outer islands including the Lau Group midway between Fiji and Tonga offer a back to nature experience only for the most adventurous.