A fabulous South Pacific archipelago

Tropical escapes don’t get much more inviting than this. Fiji’s sun-drenched archipelago and heartfelt welcome, where first-time visitors are greeted as warmly as long-lost relatives, have long made it a favourite South Pacific getaway. Look beyond the beach, however, and you will find a verdant interior swathed with lush rainforest and soaring sand dunes. From soaking in hot springs to riding whitewater rapids, Fiji is full of opportunities to go wild.

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Sand dunes to surf bars

The Sigatoka Valley is Fiji’s heartland, a place where plantations spread out on either side of the gently meandering Sigatoka River as it flows from the Navosa Province down to the Coral Coast. One of the best ways to explore this fertile landscape and the traditional villages scattered throughout, is on a jet-boat safari. Learn about Melanesian culture and get to know the locals on a village tour.

Follow the river all the way to the coast and you will hit the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. These rippling grey dunes, each one standing between 20 and 60 metres high, are formed by sediments washed down by the river. A range of walking trails are available; it’s also worth visiting the archaeological finds on display which include pottery that dates back more than 2,600 years and bird watching in the park’s native dry forests.

More dramatic vistas are on offer in the Namosi Highlands, a landscape of towering mountains and plunging waterfalls. Explore the area on a four wheel drive tour, or shoot the whitewater rapids of the Wainikoroiluva River. Alternatively, the Sabeto Hot Springs near Nadi are the place for a soak. Set amid natural surrounds, the mineral-laden waters are believed to have healing properties and are hugely popular with locals. There’s something of a festive air as people slather themselves with the dark mud, which is later washed off in a spring-fed hot pool.

Of course, it’s not a Fiji holiday without some ocean action, and a visit to Cloud 9 surf bar is a must. This two-level platform, floating in the clear waters around Ro Ro Reef, is perfectly positioned for surfers wanting to catch a wave at the world-famous Cloudbreak surf spot. The bar is not just for wave riders however; with its day beds and hanging chairs, DJ beats, colourful cocktails and delicious wood-fired pizzas, this is a great spot to while away the day.

If the beach is calling, Natadola Beach (often named as Fiji’s best) is around 50 minutes away from Nadi. It is not just its gentle sweep of sand, shining white against the cobalt sea that makes this beach so beloved: it is also great both for swimmers and surfers (beginners should try the Natadola Inside Break, while old hands will prefer the Natadola Outside). Further afield, Volivoli Beach on the north coast is equally lovely, set into a picturesque lagoon with views dominated by the towering mountains.

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