I mean, obviously, you {can} but it’s never going to capture the real essence of the islands, and what it means to visit Fiji.

Everyone knows Tahiti and Bora Bora are the social media queens.  They have all the right camera angles and lighting… the IG-worthy overwater bungalows… the hashtags… the memes.  But Fiji is the absolute definition of #nofilter. It’s real, and earnest, and full of heart. The country’s whole brand is built around “happiness”, and it works!

It’s farther to get to than French Polynesia, and harder to get around once you’re there, with less infrastructure, weaker WiFi, and fewer picture-perfect photo ops, but Fiji grabs your heart from the moment you arrive, and leaves you yearning to come back.

How? 

It’s the people.

There is nothing like a Fijian smile. Or a warm Fijian welcome. Where else in the world do you see the entire staff of a hotel (front and back of house alike) come out to sing a welcome song when guests arrive? And another farewell song when they leave?

Seaside dining at Castaway island Resort

I’ve travelled all over the world, and Fiji is the first and only place where I’ve had a hotel exec come hang out with us for a popcorn-fueled “girls night” in our villa.  Or stayed at a five-star luxury resort where the evening’s big entertainment was crab races….cheered on by every guest on property. Fiji can be pampering and luxurious, but still be barefoot, friendly, and casual at the same time.

Liku Liku Resort

My recent visit, as a guest of Tourism Fiji and the Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialists Association, was a whirlwind one.  We were there for seven nights, staying in a different hotel every single night, and we also toured/visited at least eight or nine more hotels, resorts, and beach clubs in the Mamanucas Islands, the Coral Coast, Pacific Harbour and Denarau. And that just barely scratched the surface. I’ll have to plan a return trip to go up north to Vanua Levu, and to the Yasawa Islands.

Mala Mala Beach Club

While we were there, we got to experience all sorts of local activities. We snorkeled in a marine sanctuary, we learned how to husk and grate coconuts, we drank kava, and learned how to make palm frond baskets, we prepared kokoda (similar to ceviche), and enjoyed fire dancers and a meke ceremony (Fijian warriors). The one thing we didn’t have time to do, which I would definitely recommend doing if you get the chance, was to visit a local village.

Cooking lesson at Nanuku Auberge Resort

If I had to put the spotlight on just a few of my most memorable moments on the trip, they would include a torchlit dinner on the dock at Tropica Island Resort, listening to “Mama Helen” (GM, Helen Regan) regale us with tales of the islands; flying from Pacific Harbour to Nadi in a tiny little six-seater plane that felt like a flying coffin; and coming back from dinner at the Intercontinental Fiji to find that “elves” had drawn a bubble bath in my patio Jacuzzi, lit some candles, and left me a pot of tea next to the tub.

We stayed in some fabulous resorts, and saw some gorgeous places, but it’s the people and the experiences that really make Fiji so special. When we had to say goodbye, every single one of us cried. As did our Tourism Fiji guides who had been with us for the week!

My sweet and beautiful new Fijian friends, Illi and Oni, from Tourism Fiji.

Here are some overall thoughts and tips:

  • The flight is long. There’s no getting around that, so it’s better to just embrace it. Wear your comfiest clothes, bring a book or two, or download a season of your favorite Netflix show. Relax, and try to get some sleep.
  • Leave the high heels at home. And bring your water shoes. Some of the private-island resorts don’t have docks, so when you arrive by water taxi you roll up your pants and wade ashore while the staff takes care of your luggage.
  • Be prepared to unplug. Most of the resorts we stayed in did not have televisions in the room (even the high-end properties), and many had WiFi only in the common areas. It’s by design. They want you to stop staring at a screen and enjoy the moment.
  • Stay for at least 8-10 days, so that you can experience more than one island/hotel.
  • Bring an open mind, and an open heart, and be prepared to fall in love 😊

To see more photos from Fiji, including albums from each of the hotels we stayed at, visit the Annie’s Escapes Facebook page!