1 FIJIANS LOVE KIDS
Fijians love spending time with children. Faces break into wide grins, eyes grow wide and there is lots of laughter. And kids respond. There is something truly special about the Fijians' love of children. Maybe it's their relaxed, open nature, where life is truly lived in the moment; maybe it's their love of family. Whatever it is, it will be a highlight of your family holiday.
2 TRAVELLING WITH BABY IS EASY
Sometimes when you're travelling with a baby, you feel like you're being tolerated, not embraced. In Fiji the opposite is true. Babysitters and nannies employed by resorts and kids clubs treat children as their own while everyone you meet fosters a genuine fondness for littlies. Some say this is because Fijians are naturally gifted carers, which sets them apart from other cultures. Whether it's cradling them in their arms, rocking them to sleep in a hammock, or just offering a smile, everyone will adore your baby as if it were their own.
** 3 BRILLIANT KIDS CLUBS
Take advantage of the many excellent kids clubs throughout the islands. Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort offers what many consider to be the Pacific's best kids club (fijiresort.com), the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort (outrigger.com/hotels-resorts/fiji/viti-levu/outrigger-fiji-beach-resort) is brilliant for babies and young children with its renowned Meimei nanny service, while the Sheraton Fiji Resort is terrific for families wanting a flop and drop holiday, with a fun kids club to boot (sheratonfiji.com).
4 MUD, GLORIOUS MUD
You'll never get as dirty, nor have so much fun doing it than at the Fiji Mud Baths, also known as the Sabeto Hot Springs. Visitors to these geothermal hot springs just outside Nadi are covered head to toe in rich volcanic mud. After drying off in the sun, you enter a muddy pool where most of the rich brown mud is washed away, leaving your skin feeling silky soft. Afterwards bathe in a clear spring the temperature of bath water. Kids love it. See fiji.travel/us/activity/aqua-tours-mud-pool-tour
** 5 WHAT LIES BENEATH
Known as the soft coral capital of the world, resorts across Fiji offer Padi Dive Courses and experiences for kids 10 years and over, while children as young as eight can learn fun bubble making in the pool. Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort's (fijiresort.com) Cousteau Dive Centre offers Sassy, a combination of snorkelling and scuba for kids aged eight to 10, while bubble making is offered in the pool. Guests 10 years and over at Castaway Island Resort (castawayfiji.com), meanwhile, can learn to dive and accompany parents on escorted dives to world-famous sites including the Supermarket Shark encounter, Big "W" and Gotham City.
6 PRISTINE ISLANDS AND BEACHES
A thousand miles of unspoiled white sand beaches, coral gardens and azure lagoons fringed by swaying palms. In total Fiji offers more than 330 islands, many uninhabited. Think soothing guitar melodies, romantic dinners by lantern light, incredible snorkelling and diving, and swimming at safe, kid-friendly beaches.
7 ISLAND HOPPING
Even if you're not staying on the mainland, be sure and book an island-hopping cruise. You can visit the uninhabited Modriki Island, where the Tom Hanks blockbuster Castaway was filmed, on a South Sea Cruises' (ssc.com.fj) day trip aboard the classic schooner Seaspray. Butler service, guided snorkelling, wreck diving, spa treatments and more are on offer as part of MyFiji Island's new adventure to Tivua Island, a dreamy coral atoll in the Mamanuca Islands. See myfiji.com/fiji-experience/myfiji-island-experience-/
Ride a billi billi (bamboo) raft down a river, explore caves used by cannibals and see the remains of a fortified village at the Tavuni Hill Fort at Sigatoka. Also on the Coral Coast, families can join the Sigatoka River Safari and travel aboard a custom-built safari jet to visit authentic Fijian villages, and feast on a traditional Fijian lunch. Just outside Nadi kids can fly across a tropical rainforest canopy over gurgling streams and waterfalls with Zipline Fiji. Don't forget your swimmers. ziplinefiji.com/index.php/orchid-falls
9 RECONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
With the kids in safe hands, it's time to get to know each other again. Nab that sun lounge by the pool, dine with the sand between your toes, or enjoy a massage in a thatched bure with waves lapping the shore. You can take a hike and swim beneath a waterfall, enjoy cocktails at a swim-up bar, or snorkel hand in hand in clear, fish-filled waters. One of the most romantic things to do in Fiji is watching the sun set. It's magic.
10 MEET A RARE FIJIAN IGUANA
Hold a Fijian iguana, stroke a snake and explore the 28-hectare Kula Eco Park via elevated boardwalks, which rise from the valley floor to the rainforest canopy. Fiji's centre for the captive breeding of endangered species, the park breeds two types of Fijian iguanas, colourful native birds and turtles. The call of barking pigeons, the shrill of honey eaters and the constant, pulsing concert of unseen forest dwellers greets you around every corner. The park also boasts a fun, new water park. See fijiwild.com
11 RIDE THE DUNES
Sand board down the massive Sigatoka Sand Dunes on the Coral Coast. These rugged and impressive sand dunes – Fiji's first dedicated national park – are one of the country's natural wonders and rich in archaeological history. West of the town of Sigatoka on the main island of Viti Levu, the dune system covers a whopping 650 hectares. You can do a tour of the area, and try sand boarding. Avoid the heat of the day as the sand is a dark colour and extremely hot! fiji.travel/us/activity/sigatoka-sand-dunes-national-park
12 HEAD OFF ROAD
Terratrek (terratrektoursfiji.com) is Fiji's only self-drive guided tour that explores the jungle-clad mountains behind Pacific Harbour in fun, off-road buggies. Take in views of the ocean, enjoy a picnic and swim in the cool, clean waters of a gushing waterfall. You will meet locals along the way, including many on horseback (their only form of transport). See terratrektoursfiji.com
** 13 VISIT A FIJIAN SCHOOL
Kids will love visiting a typical Fijian school and seeing how children learn and play. Many resorts sponsor schools and offer the opportunity to visit, volunteer and bring supplies. One of the highlights is hearing the students singing. Guests at Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort (outrigger.com/hotels-resorts/fiji/viti-levu/outrigger-fiji-beach-resort) can visit Conua District School twice a week. The outreach program costs $FJ100 for adults; $FJ60 for children including transportation, lunch and a visit to the Tavuni Hill Fort.
** 14 INTO THE WILD
Wade through knee-deep water by hurricane lantern through Naihehe Cave, Fiji's largest cave system on this thrilling off-road cave safari. Deep inside the 170-metre cave remains a gruesome reminder of Fiji's cannibal past – a cannibal oven, a ritual platform and the sacred priest chamber. Run by the award-winning Sigatoka River Safaris (sigatokariver.com; myfiji.com/fiji-experience/adventure/), the half-day tour includes crossing the mighty Sigatoka River via a push punt before heading deep inland by off-road vehicle.
15 IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Most Fijians still live in traditional villages in a multicultural society that hasn't been neutralised by mass tourism, and a visit is often a holiday highlight. Typically, there are kids to meet, and lots of impromptu fun to be had. Expect to learn about the customs and villagers' way of life, plus have the opportunity to buy locally made handicrafts. In some villages, you can also visit the local school. Check with your resort or hotel.
16 TRY KAVA
When visiting Fiji, you will have the opportunity to take part in a traditional kava ceremony – an important cultural and social custom. Even children can be included in the ceremony, and are not expected to drink kava (which, truth be told, looks and tastes like muddy water). The experience is offered at almost every resort (often the resort band will be drinking kava), and on visits to Fijian villages.
17 HIT THE POOL
One of the things families love best is pool time. Many resorts have fantastic family pools. Some offer water slides; others bridges to swim beneath or safe, sandy-bottomed paddling pools. If there is pool service on hand, you won't even need to haul yourself off the sun lounge to order fish 'n' chips for the kids, and another mojito for you. Go on, you're on holiday.
18 CULTURAL NIGHTS
Many Fijian resorts offer cultural nights with a lovo (underground oven) feast, traditional dancing, singing and kava. At the Sheraton Fiji Resort (sheratonfiji.com/cocopalms) you can experience fire dancing, while sister property the Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa offers a weekly traditional Fijian night under the stars, with dancing, a meke lovo and fire walking.
** 19 A FLOATING BAR AND PIZZERIA
Yes, it's a thing. Fiji boasts one of the most incredible floating bars in the world, Cloud 9, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The floating bar and water sports haven offers an internationally stocked bar, DJs and an Italian wood-fire pizzeria. You can swim, snorkel or kayak the clear turquoise waters, relax on day beds and watch as the kids leap into the water again and again. So. Much. Fun.
20 FIJI TIME
One of the best things about holidaying in Fiji (believe me) is Fiji time. It takes a little getting used to; things don't always happen when they're meant to. But that is Fiji's charm. Leave your watch at home, and submit to the lure of this idyllic island escape. Snooze in a hammock, lie comatose on a sun lounge as your kids fossick for hermit crabs, or make friends in kids club. Build sandcastles, splash in the water and enjoy some good old-fashioned holiday fun. With the kids happy, you'll be happy, too.
Sheriden Rhodes was a guest of MyFiji. See MyFiji.com
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