Fiji

The verdant islands of Fiji well deserve their reputation of paradise on earth: expect eternal sunshine and legendary natural beauty, with orchids hanging over waterfalls in lush jungle, glowing blue lagoons and palm trees lining long stretches of beach.

Most who visit Fiji want little more than a white-sand beach, a cloudless sky and the opportunity to fall into a sun-induced coma under a palm tree. On this score, Fiji doesn’t disappoint. The Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands arc north like a stingray’s tail from the body of Viti Levu, dangled in front of the world as idyllic South Sea Edens – their reefs and cobalt blue waters providing cinematic landscapes for films such as Tom Hanks’ ‘Cast Away’ and Brooke Shields’ ‘The Blue Lagoon’.

North-West of Viti Levu is the Yasawa Group, a chain of volcanic islands set to rival the better-known Mamanucas in the popularity stakes. A daily catamaran threads its way from one bay to the next, dropping off and picking up travellers as it goes.

The Yasawas are sparsely populated and the rainless dry spells that once made life so difficult for villagers are proving to be their greatest asset now. Local communities, inspired by the successes achieved further down the line, have opened budget resorts and tout their coral gardens and laid-back charm as ‘the real Fiji’.

To get to grips with the national psyche you have to spend time on either of the two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Two-thirds of the population live in urban centres and it is on Viti Levu that you’ll find the country’s two cities: Suva, the capital, and Lautoka, a port town reliant on the sugar-cane farms that surround it.

Fiji is an exotic tropical paradise in the South Pacific made up of around 330 islands.

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