If your rush to return overseas has left you feeling guilty about the potential impacts, there’s an Australian favorite that answers that.
With climate change a real issue for most of the world and Covid making us fully aware of the impact mass tourism can have on holiday hotspots, people are more keen than ever to embrace travel ethics.
While most tourism businesses implement some sustainability, few places have embraced it like Fiji.
The island nation, just a quick four-hour flight from Australia’s east coast, is one of the countries most susceptible to climate change and rising sea levels.
Fiji was the first Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to announce a net zero goal for 2050 and its national carrier, Fiji Airways, is also a big fighter for the environment.
The airline supports the “Every Take Off…One Tree” initiative which sees the country’s forest department plant a tree for every international flight.
More than 55,000 trees have been planted since the start of the project, the majority of which are mangroves, unsung heroes of coastal protection.
But Fiji Airways is not the only company helping tourists embrace sustainable ‘guilt-free’ travel.
Fiji’s first and original floating platform, Cloud 9 began welcoming tourists in December, just days after the country’s borders reopened.
Opened in 2013, Cloud 9 floats above Roro Reef in the Mamanuca Archipelago, about 45 minutes off the west coast of Fiji.
While the pontoon is best known for the wild parties it hosts, accommodating up to 100 people for events, Cloud 9 is also acutely aware of the privilege of floating in Fiji’s crystal clear waters.
The floating paradise is anchored just off the reefs of Fiji, with tropical fish and turtles regularly visiting.
Cloud 9 is part of the Mamanuca Environment Society Fiji, a charity committed to protecting Fiji’s ocean and land.
The pontoon is also a zero-carbon facility and only uses solar power for its sound system and wood for its pizza.
All our septic waste as well as solid and liquid waste are evacuated or tanked and transported at the end of each day.
“We don’t dump any waste in the ocean. We respect marine life and the incredible environment we inhabit,” promises Cloud 9.
Visitors to Cloud 9 can choose from dozens of daybeds and seats to relax in while international DJs perform.
A deserted railway line in Fiji, after the country’s revolution and global financial crisis prevented the government from connecting two bridges, has inadvertently become one of the country’s top tourist attractions.
Located in Sigatoka on the main island of Viti Levu and one hour from Nadi International Airport, the bike tour shows you some of Fiji’s best sights.
After a brief safety briefing and history talk, you hop on your modified e-bike cart, mounted on the old Sugarcane Railway, and begin your easy ride.
Your guide leads you as you gently navigate through beautiful, changing landscapes including rivers, through mangroves and lush rainforest, past tiny villages filled with excitable children who run out and wave at you in passing.
You follow the coast of Viti Levu the whole way, occasionally catching glimpses of the incredible white sand beaches before ending on a beautiful unspoilt beach that you will have all to yourself.
The tour stops for an hour at the beach where you can swim, snorkel, drink icy coconuts prepared by the guides, and snack on fruit under the shade of the palm trees.
After your pit stop, you’ll hop back on the e-bike to return to the base, which is adorned with paraphernalia used by television and film crews while in Fiji.
Bike batteries let you expend as much or as little energy as you want, with electricity allowing you to ride along the track no matter how often you pedal.
And with the bikes fully and safely mounted on the tracks, riding expertise isn’t required either.
Sailing in the South Sea
One of Fiji’s newest tourist experiences, South Sea Sailing offers visitors the chance to sail the country’s incredible Mamanuca Islands for the day.
The day trip takes place on Sabera brand new 78ft (24m) catamaran, with an expertly trained crew to navigate the gigantic vessel, meaning you’ll barely hear the engines fire up.
The tour begins in Port Denarau, Fiji’s hub for boat tours and its main marina.
The catamaran has two large nets stretched forward, both strewn with beanbags.
If the occasional splash isn’t your thing, there are also cabins and daybeds on the boat.
The boat is also equipped with a slide at the stern, which unfolds when the catamaran is moored.
The cruise makes a number of stops throughout the day, including a tropical reef and the famous sandy cays of the Mamanuca Islands.
Depending on the tides, the water may even be low enough for the crew to set up seats and umbrellas on the Malolo sandbar, meaning you can relax in the water and watch the afternoon pass.
The cruise also includes a buffet lunch, two hours of free beer and wine during lunch, and free soft drinks and water for the rest of the day.
On the way back from the sandbar, the crew will start pumping out the music to make sure you get your party fix before you arrive in Port Denarau.
Fiji was one of the first places in the world to welcome foreign tourists after the Covid pandemic, when it reopened to fully vaccinated travelers in December.
While the island nation has imposed PCR testing and a three-day quarantine at a certified resort, Fiji recently dropped those requirements.
From April 7, the Fijian government announced that it was removing the three-night stay requirement for tourists visiting.
“The timing of the Fiji government’s decision to ease Fiji’s entry requirements couldn’t be better as we head towards the best time of year to visit Fiji,” said Fiji Airways CEO , Andre Viljoen, last week.
“We are already forecasting big arrival numbers over the next few months and now we expect the numbers to be even better.”
Since last week, tourists entering Fiji must show proof that they have been vaccinated against Covid, a negative rapid antigen test before departure, travel insurance and take a rapid test within 24 hours of arrival.
This journalist was a guest of Fiji Airways.