Dr Kevin Chua’s Travel Black Book

Postcard perfect beauty of Fiji

The archipelago is a tropical paradise, with its white sand beaches, lagoons, waterfalls and hiking trails

Who: Dr Kevin Chua, 42, director of Drs Chua & Partners, a family practice specialising in aesthetics. He is married to Dr Iroshini Chua, 40. They have two children, Jorim, 12, and Aiyana, nine.

Favourite destination: Fiji

Why: From serene lagoons and waterfalls to hiking trails and picture-postcard turquoise waters juxtaposed against palm-fringed sugar-white beaches, the archipelago of more than 300 islands in the South Pacific demands that you slow your pace to soak in the tropical paradise.

Here, you disconnect from the worries of the world and reconnect with nature.

Even though I've been there only once, the Fijian hospitality and wonderful beaches have made me want to return - next time with my kids in tow.

Favourite place to stay

Laucala Private Island Resort (www.laucala.com) combines the best in exclusivity, privacy and personalisation. A variety of activities are offered at the high-end resort, the only one on the private 1,400ha island, which is owned by Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz, head of the Red Bull energy drink company.

Besides hiking, kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving, the resort has its own two-man submersible, which is a must-try experience. Prices for a night in one of the resort's 25 Fijian-style villas are available upon request.

Best breakfast

A Fijian breakfast consists of homemade buns, roti or long loaves spread with butter. You can find this and a typical Western breakfast at Governors Gourmet Coffee House and Restaurant (www.governorsfiji.com)in Knolly Street in Fiji's capital, Suva.

The restaurant is housed in a beautiful, restored colonial estate, once the residence of Fijian High Chief and Pacific statesman, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna. The restaurant is like a museum, with a charming interior and great food. Its Eggs Benedict with homemade Hollandaise sauce is highly recommended.

Must try

Kokoda, a raw fish salad marinated with lemon and lime juice and coconut milk, is like a Fijian ceviche.

Another must-try is kava, a drink with a very earthy taste that is served at Fijian ceremonies and social gatherings. It is made when the roots of the kava plant - a relative of the pepper plant - are harvested, dried and pounded into a powder which is then mixed with water.

During a kava ceremony, villagers sit around and drink kava while talking about the day's events. It leaves your lips and tongue slightly numb and gives you a very mellow, relaxed feeling, assuring a good night's sleep.

Favourite museum

Fiji Museum (www.fijimuseum.org.fj)is a brilliant place to learn about Fijian and Pacific history. Situated in the heart of Suva's beautiful Thurston Gardens, the museum holds archaeological collections dating back 3,700 years and documents the cultural and historical evolution of Fiji.

Favourite local experience

I like to immerse myself in the villages and markets, which give me a taste of the local cuisine and culture.

Kadavu Island, south of the Viti Levu main island, is a typical Fijian island made up of small villages and a great place for travellers to get a feel of the indigenous culture.

You can get there by hopping on a Fiji Link flight, a subsidiary of Fiji Airways (www.fijiairways.com) which offers flights to many of the country's islands and makes it easy for travellers to island-hop.

Favourite site

The Tavoro Waterfalls - also known as Bouma Falls - in Bouma National Heritage Park on Taveuni Island is Fiji's most famous waterfall, with three picturesque tiers and rock pools for swimming in.

The first waterfall, called Lower Bouma Falls, is about 24m-tall and the most popular for the large swimming pool at its base, though you will need to watch out for the slippery rocks. The Middle Bouma Falls is 15m-tall and Upper Bouma Falls has the shortest drop of the three at 10m.

Best hidden find

Known as Fiji's Garden Island, Taveuni is Fiji's third-largest island and, besides Tavoro Waterfalls, its other popular attraction is Lake Tagimaucia, located in a volcanic crater at an altitude of more than 800m.

If you go for a hike here, you may see the Tagimoucia flower, one of the world's rarest flowers.The crimson and white flowers, which bloom in 30cm-long hanging clusters from October to December, are found only in the highland rainforest of this island - at altitudes above 600m. It is the floral emblem of Fiji and is well worth searching for.

Best shopping

Port Denarau in Nadi, on the main island of Viti Levu, is a seaside mall offering a range of boutique stores, handicrafts, restaurants and bars.

The Suva Flea Market may be interesting for travellers who prefer more local offerings. Items to look out for include masi, a type of dyed or printed cloth made from the bark of the mulberry tree, which is used for decoration and clothing in the Pacific islands.

I would suggest bringing back some handicrafts or Pure Fiji soaps and creams, which are premium organic skincare products. If happiness had a smell, Pure Fiji products would be it.

Ideal length of stay

Seven days - this allows you some time to rest and enjoy the resorts, head out to the unique outer islands or try adventurous activities such as ziplining, dirt biking and riverrafting on the main islands.

A week may also give you time to squeeze in a side trip to one of the other Pacific islands such as Samoa, which are only a few hours away by plane.

Traveller's advice

Try the local food and talk to the people, who are incredibly warm and friendly.

It is well known that Fijians are one of the friendliest people in the world, but you will still be surprised. They embrace you like a long-lost friend or family member. It comes naturally to them.

The Fijians have a wonderful approach to life and, once you're there, there is no way you can escape their infectious positive energy.

I would suggest that visitors from Singapore leave their fast-paced, busy lives behind and relax and unwind when they're in Fiji.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 24, 2016, with the headline 'Embrace Fijian people and food'. Print Edition | Subscribe