© Captain Cook Cruises
© Captain Cook Cruises

Visiting Fiji: Main Island Vs. Outer Islands

© Captain Cook Cruises

Should You Stay on the Main Island or Explore the Outer Islands of Fiji?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? Is it worth travelling to the outer islands of Fiji or should you just stay on the main island? Well, the answer really depends on what you want to do, how much you want to do/see, your budget and how much time you have. As any seasoned traveller will know, there is some stigma attached to staying on an arrival island, as these islands don’t often represent the “real” country. However, Fiji’s main island is different and often surprises visitors with the array of things to do and landscapes. On the other hand, that scattered-islands picture that you probably have in your head can’t really be experienced unless you venture to the outer islands. We’ll compare both options in this Fiji main island vs. outer islands showdown.

What are the Main Island and Outer Islands of Fiji?

The main island of Fiji is called “Viti Levu”. This is where most international travellers arrive in the islands of Fiji, being home to Nadi International Airport. It’s Fiji’s largest island and provides a gateway to Fiji’s outer islands through boat travel and flights. Viti Levu also has its own regions to visit, which are as follows:

The outer islands of Fiji are split into several different groups. Some are large islands with smaller islands surrounding them, such is the case with Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu, while others are a collection of smaller islands. Fiji’s island groups are as follows:

Fiji main islands or outer island what is best© Mark Snyder Tourism Fiji

Why Stay on the Main Island

Before you take a flight or hop on a boat to the other islands of Fiji, you might want to consider the main island, Viti Levu. If you’ve been on an island getaway before, you might know that the first island you arrive in isn’t a good representation of what the country has to offer. However, Viti Levu is a large island with an array of landscapes and holiday experiences. There are two main reasons why you might want to consider having your Fiji holiday on Viti Levu: for experiencing it all and for convenience.

Experience it All on Viti Levu

Viti Levu is the perfect base in Fiji to get a taste of everything the country has to offer: beaches, scuba diving, city sightseeing, wellness and spa treatments, the highlands, remote villages, ziplining tours, game fishing, jet boating, white water rafting and the list goes on.

You’ll also find the largest variety of accommodation types here, including budget guesthouses, homestays, hotels, budget resorts, mid-range resorts and five-star luxury resorts.

Those staying on Viti Levu have the opportunity to see a lot more of Fiji than perhaps someone staying on one of the smaller outer islands. For instance, day trips to off-shore islands are a common way to spend your time here. On top of that, Viti Levu is home to several regions, each offering something different for tourists, from the fabulous beaches of the Coral Coast to the adrenaline activities of the Pacific Harbour. It’s easy to make a road trip itinerary by hiring a car and staying at various accommodations across the island in as little as five days.

Learn more about the regions of Viti Levu in Understanding the Fiji Regions.

Viti Levu is Just Plain Convenient!

For many of us, we don’t want to spend a significant portion of our time abroad simply getting to a place. Staying on Fiji’s main island eliminates the need for overwater travel. Getting to your destination on Viti Levu usually involves road transport which is cheaper and a lot faster than waiting for a ferry or another flight. You can transition into “Fiji time” almost immediately!

Fiji main islands or outer island what is best© Pexels

Why Visit the Outer Islands

Arguably, there are many reasons to visit the outer islands of Fiji, most of which are with a sense of “because I want to” rather than for, well, logic. But is travelling to one of the outer islands really worth the extra travel time and cost? Well, perhaps it is! While you might not have quite the variety of experiences that you can have on the mainland, that might not matter when you have a few great things to do anyway on top of being surrounded by idyllic island scenery.

A Sense of Tranquillity

The outer islands are where you’ll find those postcard-perfect island vistas with glorious beaches, snorkelling available just off the island and a sense of tranquillity. The outer islands certainly present an away-from-the-world ambience that Fiji’s main island just doesn’t quite capture.

Just One Place

While island-hopping is available in some of the island groups, many visitors just want to stay in one place, which is perfect! You don’t need to worry about decision fatigue from an array of things to do. You’ll have the opportunity to get up and do something, whether it be scuba diving, cruising, kayaking or a village visit, if and when you want to. Mostly, you’re here to relax.

The Best Photo Opportunities

It’s a common opinion that the outer islands are where you’ll find the most beautiful landscapes in Fiji, whether it be the volcanic rocky peaks jutting atop an island with palms and sandy beaches in the Yasawa Islands or verdant rainforest and waterfalls carpeting the larger islands like Taveuni.

Decide which islands are right for you with our The Best Islands to Visit in Fiji.

More About the Fiji Main Island Vs. the Outer Islands

That’s it for the guide to visiting the main island vs. visiting the outer islands of Fiji. See which islands you can fit into your trip with the following itinerary compilations: The Best Fiji Itineraries for 2 WeeksThe Best Fiji Itineraries for 1 WeekThe Best Fiji Itineraries for 5 Days and The Best Fiji Itineraries for a Weekend.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Fiji Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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