Hush-hush: Fiji’s top secret island getaways

For pristine white-sand beaches, seafood feasts and deep-sea adventures that bring you back to life, head to these secluded Fijian islands. Just don’t tell a soul.

Fiji, Tavarua Island, Aerial Daytime View
  • Rachel Gray
  • October 2018

Does having a tropical island all to yourself sound too good to be true? Check out these idyllic Fiji islands where the last thing you’ll have to do is battle the crowds.

1. Yasawa Islands

Enter an exotic world where locals perform the meke (traditional Fijian dance) as the rhythmic beating of a lali (drum) echoes across the sea. Made up of 20 volcanic isles, the Yasawas are dotted over an 80-kilometre stretch and are popular with backpackers – but they haven’t always been accessible to tourists.

Until the 1980s, these Fiji islands were so undeveloped that cruise ships in the region had nowhere for their weary sea-legged passengers to disembark. Today, with the approval of village elders, the archipelago – situated an easy 25-minute flight from Nadi International Airport – has flourished into a tourist haven.

From Yasawa Island Resort and Spa, you can head out to explore brilliant coral reefs and hike through limestone caves in the belly of Fiji’s inactive volcanoes. If you fancy a more thrilling adventure, try diving with manta rays off the coast of Barefoot Manta Island resort to the south, where these majestic creatures can be spotted from May to October.

2. Dolphin Island

For those wanting privacy and luxury, why not rent an entire island to yourself? A 20-minute boat ride from the tip of Viti Levu will take you to the 14-acre Dolphin Island, which hosts a maximum of eight people at a time.

The private oasis in the Fiji islands is the perfect location to don those oversized rockstar sunnies, crank up the beats and lounge poolside. If you’re happy to share your slice of paradise with a few friends, the island offers a three-night House Parties package, including meals and sunset cocktails.

Relaxing family holiday more your style? There’s also a four-night Family Time option, where kids can do fun activities such as cooking classes, snorkelling or visiting a Fijian village to immerse themselves in local culture.

3. Vanua Balavu

Retreat into a world barely touched by tourism and take your time exploring the verdant 53-square kilometre Vanua Balavu – one of the 57 small islands that make up Fiji’s Lau archipelago. Wander among the 1200 or so locals to soak up the island’s rich culture and history, which includes tales of Vanua Balavu’s most renowned resident – the legendary Tongan prince and Fijian chief Ma’afu, who conquered parts of Fiji before his death in 1881.

Sleeping options are limited on the island but Moana’s Guesthouse is licensed to accommodate tourists. Local-style bures (thatched cottages) sit metres from Lomaloma Bay’s beach, where you can swim, surf or recline in a hammock under the sway of a coconut tree.

4. Turtle Island

If a romantic getaway is on the cards, head to Turtle Island, where only 14 couples at a time can enjoy the pristine white-sand beaches. A 30-minute seaplane flight north-west from Nadi International Airport will bring you directly to this 500-acre paradise.

Staying in one of 14 bures – which open onto a private beach – guests can fill their days lazing by turquoise waters, snorkelling or saddling up for a sunset horse ride. For those planning on tying the knot, you can frock up in traditional dress, participate in a kava ceremony (kava is a drink made from the ground root of a pepper plant) and be spoilt with an exotic feast as part of the resort’s wedding package.

5. Mamanuca Islands

We’re going to call the Mamanuca Islands an open secret, hiding just a short boat or seaplane journey from Viti Levu. There are holiday options to suit everyone, from luxury lovers to budget travellers, scattered across this spectacular cluster of 20 isles.

Malolo is the largest of the Mamanucas. According to Fijian folklore, the gods created the sandy nirvana as a place for the sun to rest after a day of wandering, so it’s no coincidence that it’s the perfect place to kick back and relax.

You can take your pick of accommodation on the Mamanucas – if you’re on a budget, there’s Serenity Island Resort, while fun for the whole family can be had at kid-friendly Treasure Island Resort. For an adults-only retreat, head to the Tokoriki Island Resort.