Once feared by visitors for its ship-wrecking reefs and fierce tribal warriors, the South Pacific islands of Fiji are now loved by tourists for their perfect climate, breath-taking beaches and those self-same reefs – teeming with colourful coral life. Fiji is a snorkeler’s and scuba diver's paradise. But a paradise for many other reasons too.
Home to a fascinating and ancient Polynesian people for millennia, Fiji today is a multicultural mix. Indians, Tongans, Europeans and Samoans share these volcanic tropical islands with the original Fijians. There are two main islands, but Fiji has literally hundreds of coral-sand fringed islands and islets, many of which have been turned into top-class resorts. Visitors will find themselves spoilt for choice when it comes to quality accommodation.
Some of the exclusive villas here, are in fact, eye-wateringly expensive. Most, though, are very reasonably priced. Especially when you remember you're getting your own slice of unspoilt paradise. Fiji has done a superb job in creating picture-postcard perfection in the resorts, villas and hotels, scattered along its idyllic coastline and myriad of islands. But where do you start, when it comes to finding the best accommodation for your visit?
For most visitors, it starts at Nadi. This is where the main international airport is located, and also where most of the mid-range family hotels and resorts are to be found. Nadi town itself is known as the centre of Fiji's Indian culture, with its fabulous temples and mosques (and restaurants).
But it is the wide sweep of Nadi Bay that provides a glorious backdrop for most accommodation – secluded villas, beach-fronting complexes, spa hotels and resorts with a water-sports theme. The rates here are exceptionally competitive, while the quality and warmth of welcome remain first-class.
Close to Nadi, but with a more exclusive air, is the cluster of resorts and hotels on Denarau Island. This secluded island – with its 18-hole golf-course, tennis courts and water-sports centre – is a perfect place to stay, if you want luxury lodgings combined with first-class facilities. For some, though, Denarau (and its marina) are just a stop-off point for the further-flung – and exotically exclusive – hotels found in the surrounding picturesque islands.
The Mamanuca Islands are probably the best-known, with their purpose-built, low-rise resorts the very definition of tropical oases. Here, thatch-roofed huts, blending into the white-spangled beaches and lapped by aqua seas, are both elegant and luxurious. These five-star hotels are often a gateway to the marine wonder-world lying on, and beneath, the gentle waves. But don't forget – with lavish surroundings, come lavish prices.
A more affordable way of experiencing the natural wonders of Fiji can be found along the Coral Coast, a couple of hours’ drives from Nadi. This beautiful strip, found along the southern coast, is home to a variety of resorts among its coconut and sugar cane plantations, or facing onto its beaches. From cabins to villas, there's accommodation to suit most budgets.
The larger hotels offer water-sports packages, covering the delights of scuba diving among the shimmering shoals and pristine corals. But there are no limits to the play here – kayaking, horse-riding, fishing and golf – are all available, as is simply lying back at the pool-side, glass in hand, soaking up the ambience of a true tropical paradise.