Fiji or Vanuatu? What’s best for your family

Is Fiji or Vanuatu a better holiday for your family?

Fiji is home to idyllic white sandy beaches, family-friendly resorts, spectacular snorkelling and some of the warmest (and most relaxed!) people on Earth. While Vanuatu boasts isolated natural beaches, unique underwater explorations, impressive natural phenomena, equally friendly locals and immersive cultural experiences.

There is no wrong choice between these two tropical jewels of the Pacific. The decision for your family really comes down to what kind of holiday you’re after.

Unidentified boy climbs palm tree to swing on a rope swing on November 27, 2013 in Lavena village on Teveuni island, Fiji.
Thumbs up to a tropical island family holiday! Credit: Shutterstock

Best of Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a wonderful destination for kids where they will be cherished by the locals and have countless activities to try across the islands. It’s home to impressive natural phenomena and a ruggedly beautiful landscape.

Vanuatu is the perfect place for adventure, to get back to nature and for a grounding getaway. You’ll find lush green countryside, spectacular lagoons, cascading waterfalls and active volcanoes.

Families can hike the world’s most accessible active volcano, walk among Banyan trees the size of football fields, swim in natural turquoise pools and watch cultural ceremonies steeped in tradition.

Vanuatu is less commercial and tourist-heavy than neighbouring Fiji.  In Vanuatu there is a strong contrast between the resorts and upbeat rhythm of Port Vila and the traditional, untouched village life of the more remote islands. Vanuatu offers families a low-key and less crowded getaway. There’s rustic bungalow-style accommodations as well as luxurious resorts on remote islands, which abound with unblemished beauty.

Under the sea, Vanuatu is home to a beautiful world with colourful marine life, coral reefs. Adventurous teens can try diving at one of the world’s best dive-wrecks. And not far from Port Vila, you’ll find the world’s only underwater post office!

waterproof postcard on the beach with sign pointing to underwater post box in Vanuatu
Ready to post a waterproof postcard in the underwater post box in Vanuatu. Credit: Janeece Keller

Best of Fiji

In Fiji children are cherished. The island nation makes for another great family holiday destination, but for different reasons.

Famous for its beaches, Fiji’s tropical islands are dotted with fantastic family resorts and beach-style villas. All are surrounded by coconut palms and are a short stroll to idyllic sandy beaches. Tourism is well-developed thoughout Fiji. This means there are loads of kid’s clubs and activities for families. For those with younger kids, nanny services are never hard to find. Despide this there’s still a vibrant islander culture.

In Fiji you’ll find a slower pace of life and no stress. Everything is done without a rush, with a friendly smile and a welcoming “Bula”.

Fiji boasts abundances of marine life, spectacular coral reefs and diving channels, earning its title as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’.

For surfing and all manner of water sports, Fiji is the place to be. Most resorts offer kiteboarding, paddle-boarding, windsurfing, dive courses and boating trips around the islands. There are also traditional cultural shows and performances a-plenty, particularly on Denarau and Robinson Crusoe Island.

Learning to weave with coconut palm leaves in Fiji
Learning to weave with coconut palm leaves in Fiji. Credit: Shutterstock

The verdict. Is Fiji or Vanuatu better for your family?

When deciding if Fiji or Vanuatu is better for your family, it’s a tough call. Families seeking adventure, lush landscapes, off-the-beaten track experiences and unique local villages steeped in tradition will love all that Vanuatu has to offer. This means it’s a great destination particularly for older kids and teenagers.

Families with young kids who are looking for family resorts, welcoming locals and world-renowned underwater experiences will be well at home in Fiji.

Each country has its own distinct culture and experiences to offer families and there is really no wrong choice when it comes to these great destinations. The decision really comes down to what unique experience you are after as a family.

In terms of flight time, Vanuatu comes in first, at only 2½ hours from Australia’s east coast, compared to Fiji’s 4½ hours. When it comes to choosing a budget destination, Fiji is usually the better choice, due to its well-established tourism industry.

The most important aspect is to truly embrace the culture of the Pacific Islands. Put away your watch, enjoy meeting welcoming locals and truly immerse your family in the tropical experience. Kids will love the freedom and adventure. Guaranteed, you will come away with a great appreciation for island life.

Vibrant fish above a colourful, healthy coral reef in Fiji
Vibrant fish above a colourful, healthy coral reef in Fiji. Credit: Shutterstock

More on Vanuatu

The liveliest town in Vanuatu, Port Vila is full of interesting tours and adventure activities. The town is upbeat, full of bustling markets, restaurants and resorts.

Home to a captivating active volcano, the beautiful island of Tanna boasts undisturbed natural landscapes. You’ll find secluded beaches, rainforest and hot springs; marine and wildlife sanctuaries run by local chiefs and very traditional village life.

Nanda Blue Hole, Espiritu Santo, Vanuat
Nanda Blue Hole, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Credit: Shutterstock

Luganville is a great base for adventure activities across the rugged Santo island, particularly diving and snorkelling. The East Coast Road, linking Luganville and Port Olry is an idyllic road trip with several family-friendly beaches along the way. Stop at Oyster Island for its welcoming family vibe and Champagne Beach for its turquoise waters and impromptu souvenir markets.

More on Fiji

The Mamanuca and Yasawa group of islands, hosting some of the most kid-friendly resorts and hotels on the planet, are great options for snorkelling with young ones. In this part of Fiji you’re guaranteed to find colourful corals and fish, sea turtles and even friendly sharks!

Castaway Island, Mamanucas Island Group, Fiji
Castaway Island, Mamanucas Island Group, Fiji. Credit: Shutterstock

Families looking for animal encounters in Fiji should consider swimming with manta rays on Kadavu, Lau and Moala islands. Alternatively, visit Treasure Island for unforgettable turtle and iguana feeding. Or head to Kula WILD eco park where children can learn about the park’s breeding programs for native Fijian wildlife.

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