Family-friendly Fiji for all budgets
Whether you want a great value trip or to splash the cash, there's the perfect escape waiting for you in this tropical paradise.
- May 2019
Eat. Swim. Sleep. Repeat. Sounds like a dream, right? Fiji is the ultimate family destination for both fun-filled adventure and relaxation. There are excellent accommodation options at all price points. Just pick a resort that suits your finances, pack your bags, grab the kids and get going!
Budget-friendly: Bedarra Beach Inn
You might spy a few wandering cows and men with machetes on the 80-minute drive from Nadi opens in new window International Airport to Bedarra Beach Inn opens in new window – what you are witnessing is the real Fiji as locals go about their days. Staying on the Coral Coast, on the main island of Viti Levu, is an easy and relatively inexpensive holiday option that offers glimpses of authentic Fijian culture you won’t necessarily get at the big island resorts. The Coral Coast has a whole gamut of land and sea-based activities or you can simply flop on a daybed, rising intermittently to snorkel the reef right off the beach. The trade-off is forgoing some bells and whistles (sorry, no kids’ club). But for about AUD$150 a night, you get a room opposite the beach, a pool big enough for a few blow-up flamingos and terrace dining.
There’s no compulsory meal plan so you can venture out to eat and shop, keeping costs down.
Organise a ride into nearby Sigatoka and explore the town’s colourful market with its fresh food and handmade crafts. Wander along the river to see the remains of the railway bridge, destroyed by floods in 2009, and meander upstream where you’ll find women foraging for mussels. Don your Sunday best and join a church service at Korotogo village, where the choir’s powerful harmonies are spine-tingling, regardless of your religious persuasion.
For the best fun you’ll ever have on two wheels, head to Ecotrax opens in new window to ride a velocipede (a power-assisted, rail-mounted bike). The invention by Kiwi couple Howie and Mandy de Vries takes you on a rollicking 24-kilometre journey along a decommissioned sugar cane line, pedalling through forests, over rickety bridges and alongside villages and unspoilt coastline to a deserted beach.
Cool off in the afternoon at Kula Wild Adventure Park opens in new window, walking distance from your hotel. Here you can splash down a waterslide, hurtle through treetops on a zip coaster and eyeball rare iguanas, hawksbill sea turtles and birds.
An In-Betweener: Blue Lagoon Beach Resort
When the tide is up at Blue Lagoon Beach Resort opens in new window – yes, that 1980 Brooke Shields classic of the same name was filmed near here – the waves just about tickle your toes at your doorstep. The beachfront villas are leaping distance to the water, so close you can see flashes of fish darting in the shallows. Opt for a cheaper abode and you might have to walk an outrageous 20 paces to the beach. The resort is set behind a magnificent crescent of white sand on a sheltered bay of Nacula Island, in the northern Yasawas. It takes about 4.5 hours to get here by boat from Denarau Marina on the main island but the journey is worth it. Kick your shoes off at the door and forget about them until you leave – this is the kind of barefoot chill-out pad your family has been waiting for.
The kids will be in a permanent state of blissful indecision – pool or beach? Engage a nanny for around AUD$5 an hour and have them expertly chaperoned the few metres between splash points. Let them dry off at the Green Gecko Kids Club (hermit crab finding expedition, anyone?), while Mum and Dad snatch some quiet time beachside. Reunite for happy hour, sink your toes into the sand floor at the kids’ dinner and then send the progeny back to Gecko’s to be entertained while you enjoy a meal with the adults.
Burn off those excess calories on a four-kilometre return family hike to the windswept peaks overlooking the resort for captivating views across the Yasawa Islands and surrounding villages. After reaching great heights come back down to sea level and hit the lagoon’s calm waters and explore the coral reef, spying reef sharks, stingrays, octopi and colourful clownfish.
If you want to break out of the resort for a while, there are plenty of daytrips and tours on offer that can be organised and booked at reception. Take a boat trip to Nacula village and be instantly befriended by dozens of excited children at Ratu Meli Memorial School.
Here, you can drink coconut water fresh from the source, learn the traditional art of basket weaving and peruse local crafts while chickens roam the frangipani-scented grounds. The adventurous can journey to the Sawa-i-Lau caves by boat and venture inside the water-filled limestone cavern, said to be the resting place of the 10-headed Fijian god, Ulutini. Take a deep breath and swim to a second chamber via an underwater tunnel. If that doesn’t give you a kick, rev up the excitement a notch and opt for scuba diving with bull sharks.
Splurge: Six Senses Fiji
“Come on, Mr Iggy. Iggy? Iggy, where are you?” implores Jess, a softly spoken Fijian guide brandishing a torch. All eyes are cast skyward, searching for the critically endangered Fijian crested iguana camouflaged in the forest. It’s not the kind of experience you expect from Fiji’s newest family-friendly eco-resort but Six Senses opens in new window Fiji is full of surprises.
Located on Malolo Island, the largest in the Mamanucas and less than an hour by ferry from the mainland, Six Senses is a high-end resort that knows what you want before you do – for a price (a night here costs more than a week at Bedarra Beach Inn). The residences are aimed at families and impeccably appointed with all the wow-factor and conveniences pint-sized travellers need. Nab one of the four-bedroom beachfront residences and you will have three wings and a private pool all to yourselves.
There are five bathrooms, a colossal kitchen-dining-living space and enough sun lounges to accommodate a Fijian tribe – perfect for large family groups or when travelling with grandparents.
The views across Vunabaka Bay provide the kind of Insta-candy that will break the internet.
Prise the kids out of the pool to explore the beach and snorkel in the all-tide swimming lagoon, keeping eyes peeled for giant clams and harmless reef sharks. Summon a golf cart and your private butler will whisk you to the main restaurant and bar, Tovolea, sitting languidly by the resort infinity pool and sundeck.
Indulge in a coma-inducing massage at the spa village while the kids make lunch at the outdoor pizzeria, TeiTei, and collect eggs from the chook pen by the kids’ club. Go stand-up paddleboarding at sunset and after dinner, flop in a beanbag at the moonlight cinema (there are children’s and adult screenings, and residences come with complimentary babysitting for up to eight hours a day). Be sure to participate in the resort’s coral-planting program, too. It will give you a good excuse to return one day, check out your handiwork and say hello to Iggy.