Call2Call’s top five student gap year destinations. No.5 – Fiji.
We would put money on the fact that if you had planned a gap year that involved travelling towards New Zealand and Oz, one of your stopovers would be Fiji. Away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger countries, Fiji offers calm blue seas, clear blue skies and long stretches of white sand with a chilled pace.
The biggest airport in Fiji is Nadi airport, from here you can access all of the country's stunning locations, and all with a great deal of ease. The main ways of getting around Fiji are by the three B's - bus, boat and bike. Buses are cheap and offer you the chance to take in the scenery as well, but be warned, they follow timetables very loosely.
Boats are the obvious choice if you want to take a trip to another island during your stay. The option to swim is always there but a) we wouldn’t recommend it and b) you can get overnight boats which are comfy and cheap. If transport by water isn’t your thing and you would like to explore Fiji in more depth, then we would recommend getting a bike and going on a tour of the islands. They are so cheap and offer a real sense of adventure – just remember to take lots of water, as it does get quite hot and humid.
One of the most popular activities to embrace while you’re stopping over in Fiji is scuba diving. A number of different packages are on offer, including courses where you can spend a whole day in the big blue, or if you prefer the cover of darkness, why not join a night dive?
If keeping on the surface is more your sort of thing, there are numerous sailing activities to get involved in. If you’re in the area, take a look at Fiji Mamanuca Islands Sailing Cruise, which starts early at 9:00, so that you get the whole day to visit all of the beautiful islands Fiji has to offer. Spending the day at sea will most likely give you a big appetite, so morning and afternoon tea are served with a barbeque lunch (included in the price) also on the menu. If you fancy a tipple on your visit, unlimited beer and wine are served on the boat! (alongside soft drinks too).
Pack up, walk on.
By now, you might be thinking that the majority of Fijian activities all include getting semi naked and going for a dip in the blue lagoons, well, you’re partly right. However, there is also a whole host of on-foot activities that would interest travellers as well. Hiking is one of the more popular events that takes place through the islands, and in particular, the province of Ra – through a company called Adventure Fiji. They organize 50km hikes trips of up to six days, where wide-eyed travellers undertake trails that have been used by missionaries since 1849. Rest and meals are available at villages throughout the trek and is probably one of the best ways to see what Fiji is really like.
Sigatoka Sand Dunes.
A country blessed with an abundance of tranquil beauty, the Sigatoka Sand Dunes are one of Fiji’s most stunning coastal views. The Dunes date back over 2000 years and the Sigatoka region stands as an archaeological gold mine. Fans of all things prehistoric should definitely take a trip here, as the region has been unearthed as the Pacific’s largest prehistoric burial site! In 1989 the Dunes were turned into the regions first National Park and since then have been a spectacular destination to visit whilst exploring Fiji. For the keen nature lovers, the park hosts a wealth of plants and species (22 species of bird, 8 of which that are indigenous to Fiji). Sigatoka Sand Dunes is a wonderful place to explore but make sure you bring plenty of water, you will be discovering for some time!
Our top five trips...
• A good excuse to get muddy - Forever in the media, the Sabeto Hot Springs (or Mud Baths!) are a must. Located halfway between Nadi and Lautoka, this natural phenomenon is caused by natural hot springs, and the sulphur in the spring (albeit quite stinky!) is believed to have healing properties. Immerse yourself in the warm pools and then get dirty in the mud!
• Bathe in some sun - Fiji is relaxing enough, but if you want it to get even more relaxing, island hopping is the best way to chill out and see some beautiful beaches too. Trips range from day trips to overnight yacht cruises to a 2 or 3 night sailing adventure. The Mamanuca and Yasawa islands are all as beautiful as the next one - the clear azure sea and white sandy beaches will amaze you. This is paradise and not to be missed.
• Traditional life - Navala Village, in the northern-central Nausori Highlands, is one of the few settlements in Fiji which remains fully traditional architecturally. There are over 200 thatched buildings and, surrounded by beautiful landscape, is well worth a trip. Just be sure to respect the villagers and when taking photos, present them with a 'sevusevu' (a small gift) and a small cash donation. You can stay with a family at the village and leave your modern cares behind, sleeping on woven mats and eating dishes made from mostly vegetables grown at the village farms.
• See it from the sky - Birds have a lucky view. Join them in style to appreciate this wonderful country from way up high. Fiji may be small, but there are sights aplenty. Reefs, waterfalls and lush green forests are widely known, but you get a chance to gaze at volcanoes, lagoons, limestone formations and small corals. A helicopter ride is the perfect way to see it all, but if that is stretching your budget, try hang gliding, parasailing - or for the brave among you, how about parachuting!
• Breathtaking Bouma - Wherever you turn, spectacular views await you at Bouma National Park. Known as 'the garden island of Fiji', its the home to pristine natural rainforests, coastal forests and an abundance of plant life, including several species found only on the island. Just make sure you visit one of the three waterfalls in the park. Each have natural swimming pools; with the first one only 10 minutes walk from the visitor centre. Don't despair - you won't miss out!