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Fiji: Pamper fest for parents, paradise for kids

Fiji Family Holiday
Dive into family fun at Fiji, which is replete with kid-friendly resorts, food markets, adventure and educational activities. PHOTO: TOURISM FIJI

Finally, a holiday destination that lives up to everyone’s expectations — even the littlest members of the family

Between shuttling your kids to and from school and co-curricular activities, answering to bosses at work and keeping the peace at home, parents these days are hardly able to catch a break.

When the school holidays roll around, many parents scratch their heads wondering how to keep the little ones occupied and happy.

According to Expedia’s 2017 Importance of Family Travel Study, when compared to their counterparts from other Asian markets, Singapore parents were the most likely to leave their children behind to go on a vacation. Nonetheless, they agreed that family vacations serve as a good bonding opportunity.

Here's how family-friendly destinations like Fiji allow parents and children to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Relax, everything’s under control

Family Beach Fun Fiji Children
Fiji’s family-friendly resorts offer dedicated kids’ clubs with supervised daily adventures. PHOTO: TOURISM FIJI

Forget the stress of choosing the right hotel. Here in Fiji, you’ll be spoilt for choice with a lively mix of resorts to pick from. Just a 20-minute drive from Nadi International Airport, Denarau Island boasts nine large resorts with spacious suites, sparkling swimming pools and non-stop adventure for the kids. The Mamanuca Islands, off the north-western coast of the main island of Viti Levu, also have a wide array of luxury villas and suites to choose from.

Surrounded by white, sandy beaches, most of these resorts provide a dedicated kids’ club with supervised daily adventures and educational activities, such as arts and crafts, shell picking on the beach, movies and a nightly torch lighting ceremony. Some offer complimentary nanny services too.

Take the opportunity, while the kids are away, to soak in a private plunge pool or swimming pool, fanned by coconut trees and lush native flora. For some quality downtime, immerse in a diverse range of in-house wellness treatments with a local twist — from a classic Fijian massage, infused with indigenous ingredients and techniques, to a jungle-like spa ritual carried out high above a lush tropical forest.

There’s plenty for picky eaters

Food Travel Fiji Family Holiday
Tingle your taste buds with traditional dishes like kokoda, which consists of sliced raw fish marinated in lemon juice, onions, tomatoes, chillies and coconut cream. PHOTO: TOURISM FIJI

From colourful food markets to traditional dishes, Fiji’s food scene has something for everyone — even the youngest members of the family.

Delight your little ones with a tour of the Savusavu farmers’ market. Situated in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island, the local market sells snap-fresh seafood such as lobster, tuna and prawns, and refreshing coconut water that can be drunk straight from the husk. The market is open from Mondays to Saturdays.

Cooking classes are another great way of bonding with your kids. Join the Flavours of Fiji cooking school in Denarau, a 20-minute drive from Nadi Airport, to learn the art of preparing traditional local cuisine. The interactive half-day experience begins with a morning trip to the markets to purchase the freshest produce available. Classes cater to experienced cooks, beginners and children aged eight to 16.

Nadi Market Fiji Family Holiday
Fill your bags with fresh produce and exotic souvenirs at Fiji's farmers' and handicraft markets. PHOTO: CHRIS MCLENNAN

One of the food circuit’s best-kept secrets, Fiji is also home to a wealth of dishes that will delight both parents and children. Watch the preparation of lovo, a traditional feast comprising meats, fish, greens and staples like taro, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an earthen oven over red-hot river rocks. Each item is seasoned with ingredients familiar to the Singaporean palate ⁠— think onions, tomatoes and salt.

Those with adventurous taste buds can tuck into more unusual dishes like kokoda, which consists of sliced raw fish marinated in lemon juice, onions, tomatoes, chillies and coconut cream.

Fun for the whole family

Here in Fiji, adventure travel isn’t just for adults.

Quad Bike Adventure Fiji
Soak up stunning panoramic views from the top of the Nakala Mountains while on an adrenalin-pumping quad bike adventure. PHOTO: LOGAN DODDS

Glide through mangrove forests, past local villages and along open fields on rail-mounted electric pushbike carriages in a unique eco-tourism adventure with Ecotrax. The three-hour tour departs from Nadi, on the west coast of Viti Levu, and includes stops at a secluded beach, where you can stretch your legs, swim, snorkel and snack on local titbits.

Families in search of authentic, local experiences can take on the award-winning Sigatoka River Safari. Beginning in the coastal town of Sigatoka, an hour’s drive from Nadi, the half-day tour takes you deep into the Fijian interior aboard safari jet boats. Parents with infants and young children may want to bring snacks to munch on along the way.

Stop at a traditional Fijian village and witness how the locals live during the tour. Then, join the community in a farm-to-fork feast, prepared with ingredients and fruits grown at a farm nearby. While here, soak up the friendly Bula spirit, used to describe the country’s warm and welcoming embrace, as locals break into song and dance around you.

Sigatoka River Safari Fiji
Be transported deep into the heart and soul of Fiji aboard safari jet boats. PHOTO: TOURISM FIJI

A fun and fast way to see Fiji’s highlights is via a quad bike adventure. Families with teens are in for an adrenalin-pumping treat on an off-road tour that takes you through a mountain ridge and along a neighbouring river. Enjoy scenic views of the Mamanuca Islands high up on the Nakala Mountains, before taking off again for Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple, the largest Hindu temple in the South Pacific, in Nadi.

The world is your classroom

The holidays may be here, but there’s no need to stop learning.

A trip to Fiji offers both parents and children an enriching experience, through an hour-long tour of the Kalevu Cultural Centre. Just a 10-minute drive from Sigatoka town, the cultural centre visit begins with a welcome ceremony led by Fijian warriors and includes immersive demonstrations on pottery- and cloth-making. You will also get to learn about the country's history, culture and traditions in bures, which are Fijian wood and thatched huts.

Navala Village Fiji Family Holiday Culture
Visit traditional wood and thatched huts to learn about Fiji’s history, culture and practices. PHOTO: TOURISM FIJI

Upon request, you can participate in a kava ceremony. An important aspect of visiting any village, the ceremony requires guests to be seated in a circle around a bowl, in which kava, a root plant, is pounded and crushed. The pulp is then mixed with water and served in a communal Tanoa bowl.

With a genuinely uplifting atmosphere and limitless options for fun, learning and relaxation, Fiji will have you planning for your next family trip right away.

Travel tips for family holidays

Getting there: Fiji is a direct 10-hour flight from Singapore. Book your preferred plane seats early to ensure the family sits together. Some kids are old enough to handle flights like a champ, but the younger ones might need some company.

What to do there: Encourage everyone to be present in the moment and take their eyes off their mobile devices — that includes you, parents! Get your kids to start a travel journal or scrapbook, and have them write about or draw the highlight of each day.