Fiji: the happiness place on earth

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Fiji is well known for being one of the happiest places on earth. To celebrate this fact, Tourism Fiji have created the Happiness Test on facebook – helping you discover your happiness profile. Are you the tidy traditionalist, the holistic hippy, a dynamic daredevil, the cheerful conductor or a happy wanderer? Take the test at the Tourism Fiji facebook page and be in with a chance to win a holiday worth over £10,000 to the happiest place on the planet!

An insiders’ guide to Fiji
Fiji is blessed with 333 magnificent islands only some of which are inhabited. So, as well as a sophisticated tourist trade and lively living culture, there is still plenty of room to move. The Fiji islands are a quintessential tropical island paradise with extensive white sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, pristine oceans and crystal clear waterways.
Fiji offers a range of things to do and see that will appeal to the most discerning traveller from romantic couples looking for rest and relaxation, weekend breakers over from visiting relatives in Australia and New Zealand, backpackers and volunteer travellers – all the way to thrill seeking adventure travellers looking to swim with sharks or catch a wave with the world’s top surfers.
And then there’s Fiji’s most precious asset – friendly, relaxed Fijians who greet you and everyone they meet with their world famous welcoming ‘Bula’ – and often a song.



The water sports
Water sports are big in Fiji. It is a regular venue for world championship surfing as it boasts over a dozen extremely challenging but reliable reef breaks. Known as the ‘Soft Coral Capital of the World’ Fiji is also rated within the Top 10 dive destinations with a number of marine projects being set up in the area to help protect the natural environment.
Other water sports that are great to do there include kayaking, white-water rafting and snorkelling.

The climate
Fiji enjoys an ideal South Sea tropical climate with temperatures in the summer average at 310 Celsius and 290 Celsius in the winter. While higher rainfall and stronger winds can be expected from November to April, Fiji is still one of the best places in the world for a truly relaxing holiday outdoors.


The history
It’s not just about beaches and water. Fiji has its fair share of history. Nestled among the sugar cane fields lies a now silent gun battery called Momi Battery Historic Park. In 1941, with World War II raging throughout the Pacific and Fiji vulnerable to Japanese attack, defensive positions were constructed by the 30th Battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces in key points around the main island of Viti Levu. Two gun emplacements were mounted facing the sea. Today it presents a proud period in Fiji’s history when so many of its citizens joined the war effort and many sacrificed their lives to keep Fiji safe and free.
Tavuni Hill Fort takes visitors even further back in time, offering an intriguing view of the violent existence that Fijian people lived by in bygone days. The hill fort had been established by the exiled Tongan chief called Maile Latemai to protect his people from ferocious hill tribes. Visitors can take a peek at interesting objects such as braining stone (needs no explanation!) and the remains of large chiefly bures.
The Fiji Museum holds a remarkable collection which includes archaeological material dating back 3700 years and cultural objects representing both Fiji’s indigenous inhabitants and other communities that have settled in the island group over the past 100 years. Historical objects which may be of interest include cannibal relics and the rudder of HMS Bounty.

The people
Fijians are considered to be some of the friendliest people in the world and their nature reflects hospitality and kindness. You will receive the warmest welcome you could imagine on arriving in Fiji, and any of the islands you choose to visit.



Flower & fauna
Fiji’s tropical temperature is the perfect environment for a beautiful orchid range known as the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Started in 1977 by the late Raymond Burr (star of Perry Mason and Ironside), it has fast grown into one of Fiji’s most popular attractions.
Kula Eco Park meanwhile is an environmental showplace dedicated to the conservation of Fiji’s indigenous Fauna and to the environmental education of Fiji’s children where you can have your photo take with the resident iguanas and parrots.
The site of the Suva Botanical Gardens, also known as Thurston Gardens, was the scene of one the fiercest and bloodiest fights in Fijian history, in 1843. In 1879 Sir John Thurston, a British Colonial Official, recommended it be developed into a Botanical Garden. Today, spread throughout the grounds are varieties of palms, gingers, water lilies and other local flora.
Meanwhile, further out to sea, witness up-close (no cages!) the wonder of the shark – its strength, grace, precision and commanding presences in its own environment. You may see up to eight species of shark while diving with the islands’ experts – all protected by the Shark God, Dakuwaqa, who has promised his people they will never be harmed by sharks.
One of the islands, Kadavu, is home to the brightly coloured Kadavu Parrot which is endemic to the island of Kadavu, and a manta ray feeding station where you can watching these beautiful creatures that have wingspans of up to 20ft.



Its movie setting credentials
Fiji is the venue for many a fine film including arguably one of Tom Hanks’ best – Castaway. Set on Monuriki, you can take a day trip there and recreate your own “Wilson!” moment. Eighties classic, Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, was filmed at the Sawa-i-lau Caves and most recently the islands have played host to rock legends, Status Quo whose action-packed thriller Bula Quo! will be out this year.

Sports are not only big in the water in Fiji but also on land. Golf is very popular with the locals and tourists alike with many of the courses giving you breathtaking views of the ocean, rainforest or rich valleys and lagoons. The Denarau Golf and Racquet Club is considered the South Pacific’s premiere championship course while the former number 1 ranked golfer, Vijay Singh, helped to design the impressive InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa course. For something a little more fast-paced, travellers can enjoy sand duning (surfing on the sand) on the Sigatoka Sand Dunes. Covering over 650 hectares, they are around 20-60m tall and not for the faint- hearted.

It’s eco-friendly
Fiji’s unspoilt and unique environment of extreme beauty provides the perfect platform for a thriving business in eco-tourism where visitors are encouraged to take care on their visit and look after the islands, just as the Fijians do. There are many resorts that are environmentally friendly and Fijians understand the importance of looking after their islands for sustainable living – and to encourage visitors to return time and time again.



The legends of Fiji
Fiji is rich in legends – telling the stories of why some tribes have the amazing ability to walk on fire, all islanders are unafraid of sharks whose God has vowed to never harm them, and the tale of the Red Prawns of Vatulele – who emerged after a young love-forsaken chief was thrown off the highest cliff on the island and his gift of red prawns fell into a rocky pool at its base – where they remain today.

Getting there
Air Pacific (soon to be Fiji Airways) is Fiji’s international carrier that has direct flights from Auckland, Christchurch, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. So if you’re travelling from the UK you will need to change over at one of these cities on the way, making Fiji the perfect add-on to a long-haul break. Fiji also forms part of the round the world ticket as a stopover.
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