Fiji is a nature lover’s delight. The country’s islands offer an unspoiled, unique natural environment of extreme beauty and tranquility, comprising 333 islands setup in a horseshoe configuration. The largest island is Viti Levu, which hosts the capital city of Suva and two international airports, and is home to nearly three quarters of the population. Adjacent islands are Vanua Levu in the west, Taveuni in the North, and the Lau Group east of Viti Levu.
Most of the islands are volcanic but none of Fiji’s volcanoes are presently active, though there are a few small hot springs. The islands are mountainous and covered with unique tropical forests. There are large areas of hardwood trees including Sandalwood, Mahogany, Vesi (Intsia Bijuga) and Kauri. Fiji is home to more than 2,000 indigenous plant species, many of which have medicinal uses. Mangroves cover large portions of Fiji’s coastal regions and are rich in bird and sea-life.
Because of the mountainous nature of the islands, there are numerous streams and waterfalls. One of the most famous is the sacred Bouma Falls on the Island of Taveuni, which was where the movie “Return to the Blue Lagoon” was filmed.
There are more than 100 species of birds in Fiji, especially on Viti Levu around the rainforests along Colo-i-Suva, the coral coast and Pacific Harbor. Kadavu has a number of musk parrots as well as unique species of fantails and honeyeaters and there are several small islands with nature reserves protecting the unique birds. Small islands such as Mabua-i-Lau,Vatu-i-Ra and Namena-Lala Reserve are also popular sea bird sanctuaries. It is also home to 5 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species and 3 kinds of sea snakes.
Fiji has a few endemic animals including the unique banded iguana, which is indigenous only on Yaduataba Island off Vanua Levu. Banded iguanas change color to regulate their internal heat, much like their close relative the South American iguana.
The Fiji archipelago is surrounded by a coral reef, shallow lagoons and steep drop-offs featuring a fantastic variety of colorful soft corals, over 1,200 species of fish, and a dozen species of whales and dolphins. Fiji, a migratory pathway and breeding ground for whales – Fiji’s EEZ became a whaling sanctuary in 2003. Astrolabe Reef on Kadavu is well known for its excellent hard and soft corals. Moon Reef shaped like a half–crested moon lies in the north easterlies off the Coast of Dawasamu, Tailevu has spinner dolphins all year round and vibrant marine life for snorkeling. The Lomaiviti Seascape is one of Fiji’s most protected reefs and coastline’s marine heritage. More soft corals can be found along the north and south coast and there are exciting caves and deep drop-offs on the western tip of Kadavu.