Fiji by cruise

For unravelling all stresses and cares, you can’t do better than a cruise in warm and welcoming Fiji

Reading Time: 5 minutes


By day 6, I’d found myself on a golden sand beach, shaded by clumps of pandanus and coconut palms, watching crabs scurrying past towards the water’s edge. So far that day I’d
gone kayaking, snorkeled alongside a coral reef with brilliantly coloured rainbow fish, and managed to stand upright on a paddleboard.

I was on a week-long cruise on-board Captain Cook Cruises’ Reef Endeavour to discover the far flung islands of northern Fiji, with visits to traditional villages, historic towns and hikes through lush rainforests. This was my 5th visit to Fiji with the short drive familiar
from Nadi’s international airport to Denarau Island, passing open air markets, souvenir and spice shops, Indian restaurants and the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, the largest in the South Pacific.

Within an hour of landing, I’d plunged into the resort’s infinity pool, and witnessed a
sunset of deep crimson and orange, the air an aromatic blend of coconut, scented frangipani and hibiscus.

cruising fiji
Kioa Island welcome (Source: Supplied)

Charming townships

With 333 islands to choose from, you could spend months discovering Fiji and not see the same island twice. Departing the next day from Denarau Port, we cruised beyond the Yasawa Islands to Levuka, set below dramatic towering volcanic peaks, established as a whaling settlement in 183 and later becoming Fiji’s first capital.

The best example of colonial architecture in the South Pacific, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Lining the waterfront promenade are churches, cafes, restaurants and ramshackle hotels filled with memorabilia and old photographs. Many of the trading stores have been operating for generations, such as the haberdashery store owned by the Vallabh family that opened 98 years ago. I continued walking along the coastline past sandy bays and villages set among coconut, papaya and mango trees, the locals greeting me with Bula!

fiji island
Nananu-I-Re Island (Source: Supplied)

We also visited Savusavu on Fiji’s second largest island Vanua Levu, a vibrant town sited on one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the Pacific. The main street is lined with trading stores, cafes, a produce market and churches. Nearby, a bubbling natural hot spring is used for cooking with a local collecting his cauldron of steaming chicken stew offering it to share. While walking to a beach fringed with a coral reef, a friendly local named Violet stopped her car, her two poodles reclined on the back seat, and hopping a ride, I was soon there.

Tropical splendours

Taveuni is known as Fiji’s garden island with rich volcanic soil and luxuriant vegetation. In an open-air bus we followed the scenic coastline past villages, coconut plantations, and long stretches of golden sand beach, to Bouma National Park where a trail led to several waterfalls.

Tavoro Waterfall at Taveuni Island
Tavoro Waterfall at Taveuni Island (Source: Supplied)

While visitors swam in the deep plunge pool, I hiked further through the rainforest, across a river holding onto a rope while hopping from one boulder to the next. The second waterfall was even more impressive and from a viewing platform I was able to see across the mountainous terrain. With over 100 bird species found here, many were twittering in the tree canopy above.

cruising fiji
Taveuni Island (Source: Supplied)

Cultural immersion
Our Fiji cruise also provided the opportunity to visit traditional villages where we were given a rousing welcome. At Naselesele village on Taveuni, drums pounded as we were offered a traditional Melanesian welcome of Kava, followed by a Lovo feast, from an underground oven of hot stones, piled high with seafood, meat and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves.

On the island of Makogai, we attended Sunday Hymns joining in with churchgoers, their melodious voices filling the air and hiked through a rainforest to the cemetery of a
former leper colony.

On Kioa Island we were greeted by the entire village. Originally from Tuvalu they migrated to Fiji after being displaced by rising sea levels, buying the island in 1947. Their dance and rhythmic pounding of the drums was in the tradition of their Polynesian heritage at full throttle, with singers and rhythmic dancers swaying their hips, one of many highlights of the cruise. When it was time for us to go, we were given a rousing send off with lots of waving and clapping.

Kava root for sale (Source: Supplied)

Fiji is a multicultural country with a vibrant cultural heritage of Fijians and descendants of Indians brought here to work in the sugar cane industry. The diversity is reflected in the cuisine that offers unique dishes found nowhere else in the world, with dishes that incorporate local ingredients, like fish Suruwa, a curry cooked in coconut milk.
On my final day, before my evening flight home, as I swam in the Hilton Resort’s infinity pool one last time, I reflected on the 9 days I’d just experienced cruising Fiji. Of balmy tropical days, crimson sunsets, and sailing to stunning remote islands with dramatic rocky peaks, beautiful beaches, coral reefs and lush rainforests.

But most of all it was the people of Fiji that made this trip so memorable. At every port of call, and every town and village, we were met with a warm welcome of singing, dancing, waving, and calls of Bula – everyone appreciative to see visitors back again.

Fiji is the perfect destination to relax, re-charge and be happy.

The writer on Kioa Island (Source: Supplied)

Travel Notebook
 Fiji Airways flies direct to Nadi from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and with offices at many Fiji resorts, you can check in ahead of your flight home. Staff are exceedingly helpful and friendly.
 Resorts are generally of a high standard, with many offering kids’ clubs and a range of activities. The Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa, has many accommodation options to suit, from solos to large families, with rooms facing an expansive beach on Denarau Island. Arrange airport transfers with Tourist Transport of Fiji.
 Captain Cook Cruises’ Remote North Discovery Cruise takes you to islands that few tourists get to see.
 For entry you’ll need an International Covid Vaccination Certificate (MyGov), Travel insurance covering Covid, and a pre-booked RAT for after arrival (entrytestfiji.com) done at most resorts. For re-entry to Australia complete a digital passenger declaration on your iPhone.

For further information:

READ ALSO: Fiji Baat: A children’s book on language and identity

Petra ONeill
Petra ONeill
After growing up in Australia's outback she enjoys visiting remote destinations in Australia for the wildlife, vast open spaces and brilliant night sky and travelling overseas to exotic destinations to experience different cultures. Her bag is always packed and ready for the next trip

What's On