Fiji barely has a winter to speak of! How good is that? In winter the lowest temperature is a mild 18 degrees, meaning it's a great destination to visit year-round. But it's not all sunshine, blue skies and blazing sunsets. Here we outline the best time to visit Fiji.
May to Oct – winter (dry) season
Why you should go
Australia's winter coincides with Fiji's cooler months too. But Fiji's winter (dry) season is way warmer than winter back home, with daytime temperatures hovering around 26-27 degrees. Nights are cooler but in reality the weather's still balmy (although, tell that to the Fijians who layer up in beanies and hoodies at this time of year). In dry season expect clear, blue-sky days, low rainfall, less humidity and minimal risk of cyclones.
The advantages of visiting in dry season, aside from idyllic weather are multiple: great surfing, good conditions for snorkelling and diving, plus spectacular sunsets. As the cooler months set in, the spectrum of colours in Fiji's famous sunsets is incredible, with light scattered clouds making for amazing nightly displays by nature, says Chris Hamilton, resident manager of Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa.
It's also the best time to go diving and snorkelling, with clarity at its best from May through to the end of September. Some divers, however, prefer the wet season as the water temperature is a couple of degrees warmer – meaning no need for a wetsuit.
June through to September is also, obviously, the best time to escape the cold in Australia but, annoyingly, everyone else has the same idea so this is Fiji's peak season. The July school holidays are by far the busiest time of year aside from Christmas, with occupancy at its highest. If you want to visit during Fiji's winter, give school holidays a wide berth especially if you're travelling sans kids. If you absolutely have to travel in school holidays, book way in advance as you'll struggle to find a room if you leave it until the last minute.
Fiji is famous for its sea life, particularly its array of colourful coral. The Great Astrolabe Reef is the world's fourth-largest barrier reef and wraps around the remote southern island of Kadavu. Somosomo Strait between the northern islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, meanwhile, is famous for its stunning soft corals. At Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu you can follow in Cousteau's flippers, at the renowned Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort. Explore underwater dive sites with whimsical names like Chimneys and Alice in Wonderland, with its mushroom-shaped corals, sea fans and clown fish. Or book a dive to deeper sites like Grand Central Station at Namana Marine Reserve, considered by Cousteau to be one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
Described as the "mother of all festivals", the Hibiscus Festival is one of the biggest events in the country, and brings Suva to a standstill. Held this year from August 11-18, the long running festival celebrates Fiji's different cultures and diversity, and includes food, rides, entertainment, sporting activities, an opening march, floats procession, talent contests, an arts village and more. See www.hibiscusfiji.com
Fijians love to party. Get swept up in the celebrations of National Fiji Day, the anniversary of the country's independence from British colonial rule, on October 10, 2018.
November-April – summer (wet) season
Why you should go
This is Fiji's rainy season, and while tropical downpours are typically short, they can be just the opposite – settling in for days. After the rain clears expect hot, and humid conditions. The south-eastern side of Viti Levu near Suva gets considerably more rain than the resort rich area surrounding Nadi, on the island's drier side (it's why there's more accommodation there), so bear that in mind if you're planning to travel during Fiji's summer.
The good news is, even when it's raining, it's still warm. And when the sun comes out, it's hot, hot, hot. The best thing to do? Head to the beach and laze beneath a coconut tree with cooling dips in gorgeous, fish-filled waters. Or head for the swim-up bar and order another coconut mojito.
Late in the wet season (around March) is a wonderful time to see Fiji's waterfalls. The forest floors are soaked after a season of rain and the rivers are flowing. Vibrant flame trees are also prolific over the festive season. The brightly coloured flame trees go into bloom just before Christmas and are simply stunning. Many native tropical plants are also flowering, meaning Fiji is bursting with colour and new life.
Even though it coincides with Fiji's wet season, Christmas is an incredibly busy time in Fiji with lots of Australian and New Zealand families heading to the islands to celebrate. Expedia says December is the most expensive month to book flights to Fiji. However, bargains can be had in late January and February (the cheapest month for flights, according to Expedia) when everyone has returned to work or school.
The big plus for travelling at this time is Fiji is uncrowded, hotel rooms are cheaper and you'll easily find a patch of sand all to yourself. The downside? Cyclones. While there is plenty of warning and Fiji is prepared with cyclone-proof shelters, cyclones do happen and it can completely throw out not just your holiday plans, but travel too, with disruptions to flights, and travel by boat or by road. Book a flexible ticket and take out adequate travel insurance.
Get a glimpse into Fiji's past with Sigatoka River Safaris. Wade through knee-deep water by hurricane lantern through Naihehe Cave, Fiji's largest cave system. 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. See www.sigatokariver.com
Catch local sevens rugby at its best during the Coral Coast Sevens tournament held in late January each year. The tournament, at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka, is a great opportunity to see the enormous pool of rugby talent in Fiji. Keep an eye on the website for next year's schedule. See www.fijicoralcoastsevens.com