As the days continue to get colder, you may find yourself fantasizing about your next tropical getaway. While the Caribbean is a popular choice, it's worth the extra hours on a plane to head to the South Pacific instead.
Of the thousands of postcard-perfect islands in this vast region of the Pacific Ocean, it quickly became clear to me on a recent trip why Fiji is one of the most popular tourist spots here. You'll discover the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, top-rate scuba diving and snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs — and so much more. With 333 islands, only a third of which are inhabited, Fiji is diverse not only in its environment, but also in its culture.
Here are some reasons to consider a trip to Fiji.
1. It's closer than you think.
Fiji may seem far-flung, but getting there isn’t too complicated. Fortunately, Fiji Airways offers non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Nadi. These overnight flights take about 11 hours — plenty of time to fit in a movie and some sleep before arriving in the morning. Fiji Airways also flies to Nadi three times a week from Honolulu. Even better? Compared to many other islands in the South Pacific, flying to Fiji is comparable or sometimes even cheaper.
2. You’ll find accommodation for all budgets.
Unlike some of the more expensive islands in the area, Fiji caters to all budgets. In fact, many of Fiji's accommodations boast mid-range prices. Fiji's Yasawa Islands and its main island, Viti Levu, offer a wide range of budget accommodations. Additionally, the Mamanuca Islands -- where the movie "Cast Away" was filmed — are also popular amongst budget travelers and backpackers. Meanwhile, luxury lovers can splurge on an overwater villa at one of many resorts, including the stunning Koro Sun Resort & Spa on Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu.
3. It’s not just for honeymooners.
Yes, Fiji is a hot destination for romantic escapes, honeymoons, and weddings. However, the country attracts many vacationing families and groups, too. For an extended family vacation, many resorts offer family-orientated water activities, childcare facilities, and kids' clubs to keep children busy all day long, while others provide nannies for an hourly fee.
4. There’s sun, sea, and sand — and much more.
While there’s certainly plenty of sun, sea, and sand that people flock to Fiji for, the country also has strong cultural traditions and a great respect for ceremonies. One of the most popular traditional customs involves kava, also known as yaqona or grog (and also consumed in Tonga and Samoa). Kava, a mildly narcotic drink that may leave your mouth and tongue a bit numb, is made from the root of a pepper plant. It’s considered the country's national beverage, as it plays a large role in Fijians' everyday lives. Drinking kava is a social pastime but can also mark an important occasion. If you're invited to partake in a kava ceremony, whether in a village or at your resort, you'll have to follow certain steps according to custom before taking a sip.