About the Flora and Fauna of Fiji
Fiji is famous for its island escapes and white sandy beaches. However, delve into those crystal clear waters surrounding the islands or into the heart of any forested island and you’re likely to encounter some exciting and mysterious wildlife. While Fiji is home to reptiles, birds, insects and more, what attracts people to Fiji the most is the lure of the aquatic life. With crystal clear waters, snorkelling or diving among the coral reefs will transport you to another world. A wealth of marine life lives in Fiji’s waters from thousands of species of colourful tropical fish to majestic sharks and giant manta rays. This guide to the wildlife in Fiji will go over the most common wildlife species to look for when travelling the islands, as well as a few fun facts about Fiji’s most fascinating creatures. Whether you’re into fish, birds or trees, there’s something for every type of nature-lover in Fiji.
5 Fun Facts About Fiji Wildlife
- Fiji has no native land mammals except for bats.
- Scuba diving with bull sharks is a popular tourist activity!
- There are only one venomous species of snake (which is rarely seen and would hurt you unless severely provoked).
- Fiji is known as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” making for amazing snorkelling.
- Giant manta rays visit the Yasawa Islands from May to October.
Marine Life in Fiji
With the abundance of coral reefs, the waters of Fiji are teeming with an array of tropical fish species and other marine animals. Fiji is home to more than 1,500 different fish and other aquatic species, so there are lots to see when boating, snorkelling or diving in Fiji’s warm waters. In turn, this attracts larger marine wildlife, such as whales, dolphins and more.
Fish in Fiji
Fiji is known as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” so as you can imagine, there is a great deal of reef fish to be found. Colourful species like parrotfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, anemonefish, unicornfish, ribbon eels, goatfish, lobsters, frogfish, sea horses, starfish, eels and many more fascinating aquatic species occupy the coral reefs of Fiji.
Sharks in Fiji
One of the most breathtaking marine species that travellers can see while in Fiji are sharks. While white-tipped and black-tipped reef sharks are the most common shark species you are likely to see in Fiji’s reefs and inner waters, you could also see tawny nurse, grey reef, sicklefin lemon, silvertips, bull and tiger sharks. Hammerheads and other sharks species are likely to be seen in the open seas. Check out the 5 Best Places to See Sharks in Fiji for more information on shark encounters.
Sea Turtles in Fiji
Lesser seen than sharks, sea turtles also occupy Fiji’s waters. Unfortunately, due to human impacts, turtles are less abundant in Fiji than they once were. However, it is still possible to see around five different species of sea turtles: hawksbill, loggerhead, green, Pacific, leatherback and ridley. The most common encounters with turtles in Fiji are with the green turtle, seen foraging on seagrass beds or nesting on sandy beaches (which happens from November until March). Learn more about turtle encounters in the 7 Best Places to See & Swim with Turtles in Fiji.
Marine Mammals in Fiji
Whales and dolphins are protected in Fiji’s waters, but seeing them will mostly depend on luck. Pods of dolphins and pilot whales inhabit Fiji’s waters year-round, while species like humpback whales, false killer whales, sperm whales, minke whales and fin whales migrate through Fiji every year. Dolphin species you may encounter include spinner dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Learn more about the whale and dolphin seasons in Fiji in The Best Seasons for Seeing Wildlife in Fiji.
Birds in Fiji
Travellers to Fiji will get the chance to encounter some of Fiji’s colourful and fascinating bird species.
Fiji is home to around 76 native bird species, 27 of which are only found in Fiji. Parrots, petrels and doves make up some of the incredible bird species that you could see while exploring the forests of Fiji’s larger islands.
Some noteworthy birds to look out for in Fiji include:
- Fiji Woodswallow – These white and black birds endemic to Fiji are seen in lowland forests and even in some urban areas.
- Musk Parrot – With bright red, green and blue plumage, the musk parrot, otherwise known as the Crimson Shining Parrot, is one of the most recognisable birds in Fiji.
- Collard Lory – Similarly coloured to the Musk Parrot, the Collard Lory is a smaller bird that is usually seen in groups.
- Sukphur-breasted Myzomela – These are some of the smallest birds in Fiji. The Sukphur-breasted Myzomela has a yellow chest and a red crown.
- Fiji Goshawk – This raptor bird occupies forested areas of Fiji and is about 30-40cm/11-15″ long.
- Red-Throated Lorikeet – One of Fiji’s rarest birds, the Red-Throated Lorikeet is a small lorikeet found on Fiji’s larger islands.
- Orange Fruit Dove – You’ll know it when you see it with its orange “flame-like” body and olive-coloured head.
- Fiji Parrotfinch – Lookout for this colourful bird with a bright green body and red head and tail, commonly seen throughout Fiji.
Amphibians and Reptiles in Fiji
A number of amphibians and reptiles can be found in Fiji including snakes, iguanas, frogs and geckos.
Frogs in Fiji
There are two endemic species of frogs in Fiji, the ground frog and the tree frog. The ground frog is a threatened species, while the tree frog is known for both males and females producing mating calls (usually it’s just the male who calls in other frog species).
Iguanas in Fiji
Probably one of the most impressive lizard species found in Fiji is the Fiji banded iguana. The males of this large emerald-green lizard have vertical stripes, while the females are all green. Their long tails make up for more than two-thirds of the iguana’s total length. Another iguana species is the critically endangered Fiji Crested Iguana found only in the northwestern islands in the dry forest.
Snakes in Fiji
Fiji has a number of snake species, including three species of sea snakes. The black and white banded sea snake is the only venomous sea snake but are usually relaxed and will not attack people unless severely provoked. On land, the Pacific boa is a nocturnal and well-camouflaged snake, so you’ll be lucky to see one. This snake is not poisonous and only feeds on mice and lizards.
Skinks and Geckos in Fiji
Small skinks are one of the most common types of wildlife you’ll see in Fiji, not afraid to inhabit resorts (or pretty much anywhere else). They’ll hurry away if approached. Geckos are more commonly seen at night and the species in Fiji are the Rotuma forest gecko and Fiji forest gecko.
Land Mammals in Fiji
Fiji’s only native land mammals are six species of bats. Only one of those bat species is endemic to Fiji, the Fiji monkey-faced bat. This bat species can only be found in the highland region of Des Voeux Peak (Koroturanga Mountain) on Taveuni.
Out of the six species of bat found in Fiji, four of them eat fruit. The other two species, the Polynesian sheath-tail bat and the Fijian mastiff bat, eat insects.
All other land mammals found in Fiji, like dogs, cats, rats, pigs, etc. are introduced species.
Insects in Fiji
First of all, there are no dangerous insects in Fiji. While there are mosquitos, that you will want to wear insect repellent to avoid bites (see our 10 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites), they do not carry malaria.
For all you bug lovers, you can expect to see butterflies, moths, spiders and stick insects in Fiji.
Endemic butterfly species include the Fiji swallowtail, while a common moth species is the sphinx moth which can grow a wingspan of up to 15cm/6″. There are also several species of large spiders too, however, they tend to make their webs high in the forest canopies so it is not often that you will see them.
Vegetation in Fiji
Fiji’s iconic beaches are lined with a variety of pine tree species, while more vibrant flowers and vegetation can be found in the interior tropical forests.
Trees found on Fiji’s beaches include fishtail, silver, umbrella and coconut palms. Look out for trumpet-like flowers of the beach morning glory trees.
Fiji’s coastlines are also lined with mangrove forests. These flooded forests are important for the ecosystem of Fiji while strengthening and protecting the coastline from the warm waters.
Other common tree species include mallotus tiliifolous which has hairy leaves and spiny fruit and the Indian-beech with aromatic flowers. The Tahitian gardenia is also an attractive plant with white blossoms.
Wildlife Experiences in Fiji
So where can you experience the Fiji flora and fauna for yourself? Here are a few activities and areas to add to your Fiji itinerary!
- Shark Reef Marine Reserve – On the Coral Coast, join resorts and activity providers for shark diving and snorkelling with up to eight different shark species.
- Great Astrolabe Reef – One of the largest barrier reefs in the world is located near Kadavu Island and Ono Island. It’s a great place for scuba diving.
- Namena Marine Reserve – Witness the impressive biodiversity of this marine reserve, home to around 1,100 fish species and the blue ribbon eel. Namena Reserve is located between the two main islands of Fiji, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.
- Moon Reef – On the east side of Viti Levu in Takalana Bay are excursions to Moon Reef where you can do dolphin watching tours.
- Kula Wild Adventure Park – See native Fiji species in the aviaries and displays of the Kula Wild Adventure Park which is the only captive breeding facility for endangered Fiji species. The park is in Sigatoka on the Coral Coast, Viti Levu. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.
- Garden of the Sleeping Giant – Just a short drive from Nadi on Viti Levu, the garden is a fine example of tropical Fiji forest and hosts 30-40 native orchids and cattleya hybrids.
- Taveuni – Known as the “Garden Island” Tavenui is the island any keen birdwatcher needs to visit, as it is home to over 100 species of birds.
Check out 10 Best Wildlife Experiences in Fiji to learn more!