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, and the decision for your family really comes down to what kind of holiday you’re after.

Best of Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a wonderful destination for kids – who will be cherished by the locals and have countless activities to undertake across the islands. Home to impressive natural phenomena and a ruggedly beautiful landscape, Vanuatu is the perfect place for adventure, to get back to nature and to spend a grounding getaway. Lush green countryside, spectacular lagoons, cascading waterfalls and active volcanoes are major drawcards – 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.

What Vanuatu offers, differing from Fiji, is the contrast between its resorts and upbeat rhythm of Port Vila to the traditional untouched village life of its more remote islands. Less commercial and tourist-heavy than neighbouring Fiji, the islands of Vanuatu offer families a low-key and less crowded getaway, offering both rustic bungalow-style accommodations and some luxurious resorts on remote islands – abounding with unblemished beauty and ingenuity. For snorkelling, Vanuatu is home to a uniquely beautiful underwater world with colourful marine life, beautiful coral reefs, one of the world’s best wrecks for diving and the world’s only underwater post office!

Best of Fiji

In Fiji children are cherished, and the island nation makes for another great family holiday destination – but for differing reasons. Famous for its beaches, the 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. Due to its popularity, local tourism is well-developed throughout Fiji meaning kid’s clubs, lots of activities for families and nannying services are never hard to find, though there is still a vibrant islander culture – the Fijian philosophy is of 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 – with most resorts offering kiteboarding, paddle-boarding, windsurfing, diving courses and boating trips around the islands, as well as traditional cultural shows and performances particularly on Denarau and Robinson Crusoe Island.

The Decision

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, meaning it’s a great destination particularly for older kids and teenagers. While families with young ones looking for lively family resorts, welcoming locals, pristine beaches 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 – so the decision will come down to what unique experience you are after as a family. In terms of flight time, Vanuatu comes in first, 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 best choice, due to its well-established local tourism.

The most important aspect is to truly embrace the culture of the Pacific Islands – put away your watch, be greeted by welcoming locals and truly immerse with your family in the refreshing tropical experience – kids will love the freedom and adventure and, guaranteed, you will come away with a great appreciation for the memorable island lifestyle.

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 – secluded beaches, rainforest and hot springs; marine and wildlife sanctuaries run by local chiefs and very traditional village life.

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 secluded family-friendly beaches along the coast. Be sure to 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 some of the best options in Fiji for snorkelling with young ones – home to colourful corals and fish, sea turtles and even friendly sharks!

For animal encounters families can swim with manta rays on islands Kadavu, Lau and Moala, visit Treasure Island for unforgettable turtle and iguana feeding, and Kula Eco Park where children can learn about the park’s vital breeding programs for native Fijian wildlife. Arts Village, on Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, is described as ‘Fiji in a theme park’ featuring mock battles, performances, traditional arts and costumes all in a Disneyland-like atmosphere.

Liked this story? Read about Fiji’s top 10 for teens and why Vanuatu is a booming family destination.