Fiji is the South Pacific's most popular tourist destination, and with 322 islands and hundreds of resorts and adventure activities to choose from, the average visitor can use a little guidance. Getting there is the easy part with daily flights from Los Angeles, Auckland, Sydney, and many other cities. Almost everyone arrives at Nadi International Airport on the west side of Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island, and that's when the fun starts.
- Change enough money for your entire stay in Fiji upon arrival. There's a bank in the baggage collection area at Nadi Airport and several moneychangers offering slightly better rates just beyond the exit from the customs hall. Travelers cheques attract a better exchange rate than cash and several ATMs are available. Banking facilities in most outer island resort areas are poor to non-existent and hotel desks pay the lowest possible rates. Many businesses in Fiji tack a five percent surcharge onto bills paid by credit card.
- Get out of Nadi as quickly as you can. Nadi has dozens of resorts and tour operators but it's best to head for the outer islands right away and save the shopping and sightseeing possibilities near the airport for the last few days of your visit. That way you won't miss your flight if the island shuttles are cancelled because a hurricane warning has been issued, plus you won't need to lug your souvenir purchases all around the country.
- Catch a ferry or commuter flight to your furthest destination in Fiji on your first or second day. Once there, slowly begin working your way back to Nadi. Highspeed catamarans leave Nadi's Denarau Marina every morning for numerous outer island resorts throughout the Mamanuca and Yasawa island groups. Over a dozen travel agencies in the Nadi Airport concourse can arrange catamaran tickets, transfers, and resort bookings.
- Fly from Nadi Airport to the "Garden Island" of Taveuni. There are several flights a day and you could catch one before or after visiting the Mamanuca or Yasawa islands. Taveuni's scuba diving, snorkeling, and bush walking possibilities will easily entertain you for a few days.
- Head for the old plantation town on Savusavu on Fiji's second largest island, Vanua Levu. A local ferry and several daily flights link Taveuni to Savusavu. Yachting, diving, and exploring are the main activities here, and this colorful seaside town has a laidback atmosphere perfect for pedestrian exploration.
- Board an overnight ferry or one of the frequent flights to Fiji's capital Suva. This culturally diverse city is the largest in the South Pacific islands, and the colonial architecture, gardens, and museum in South Suva complement the teeming markets and shopping centers of North Suva. The nightclubs and restaurants are the best in the country.
- Pick a beach resort and kick back for a few days. After all that exploring, you'll be ready for a real vacation, and the numerous Coral Coast resorts along Queens Road between Suva and Nadi are the obvious choice. There's something for everyone, from backpacker dormitories to four-star resorts to equal anything in Hawaii. You can go surfing, diving, snorkeling, whitewater rafting, and hiking, or simply spread your beach towel and soak up some sun.
- Shop till you drop in Nadi. If you've saved the airport area for your last day or two, you'll find numerous attractive shops in Nadi town. Don't miss the colorful local market near the bus station, a few blocks back from the main drag. If you missed the Mamanuca Islands at the start of your trip, daytrips to the Mamanuca island resorts can be booked at every hotel desk around Nadi with transfers, catamaran, snorkeling, and lunch included.
One of the best things about Fiji is the exuberant, friendly people. You'll enjoy learning the ins and outs of traditional Fijian culture, and kava ceremonies, firewalking, and meke dancing are staged regularly at most large resorts. You'll find Fiji inexpensive compared to Mediterranean and Caribbean hot spots, and it's quite safe (although caution should be exercised on the backstreets of Suva and Nadi after dark). One week will give you a taste of what Fiji has to offer, but even with two weeks, you'll be rushed if you try to do everything mentioned above. Stay a month and you'll know exactly what you want to do on your next visit to Fiji.