Fiji...Just the word conjures images of glistening emerald isles, white sandy beaches, Technicolor reefs and lush, verdant landscapes. But there is more to this Pacific island nation -- an endless choice of adventure based activities on land, at sea and in the sky.

With more than 330 islands, this tourist destination of choice has something for everyone. On the cultural front, travelers enjoy authentic village visits, evening kava ceremonies, Beqa’s firewalking, resort meke and more. As one of the South Pacific’s preferred tourist destinations of choice, Fiji never falls short of unique adventures from wondrous beauty to captivating cultural experiences.

Here’s why Fiji is a “must see” for North American travelers:

Photo Credit: Markolf Zimmer

Out Of The Blue

For those seeking paradise underwater, they’ll discover the “soft coral capital of the world” with some of the world’s top notch snorkeling and scuba diving. Rated among The Top Ten Dive Destinations in the world, Fiji’s vast, varied, and colorful underwater playgrounds boast something spectacular for divers at every skill level. One of the true Meccas of the international diving world, it is here where divers discover 1,000 species of tropical fish and 400 vivid rainbow-esque soft coral and sponges, and an infinite array of crustaceans, mollusks, anemones, worms and other invertebrates. Not to be missed are world-class dive sites including Bega Lagoon and its famous Rainbow Reef, and Kadavu with its spectacular Astrolaube Reef.

Long regarded as a sportsmen’s paradise, adrenaline-charged activities have catapulted Fiji into first place as the South Pacific’s first choice for soft adventure. Ocean lovers revel in jet boating, jet skiing, water skiing and windsurfing. Surfers too have been drawn to Fiji by the internationally famous Namotu Left, (Mamanuca) Frigates Pass (Coral Coast), Cloudbreak (Mamanuca), and Typhoon Alley (Kadavu), all regarded as three of Fiji’s best-known breaks with innumerable quality surf locations.

The archipelago provides a popular playground for boaters and yachtsmen because of the region‘s favorable winds, combined with an endless choice of tucked away safe harbors and coves. Fishermen try trolling for an adrenaline rush of a monster marlin, experience the thrill of popper casting for giant trevally, hand-line for a sweep lip on the reef’s edge or simply opt to partake in a local village fish dive.

Others enjoy a more leisurely experience by taking a cruise on Blue Lagoon or Captain Cook cruise line or chartering a catamaran, an authentic rafting excursion on a “Bilibili” bamboo raft on the Navua River, or swimming to the mystical limestone caverns on their day trip to Sawa-i-lau Island in the Yasawas.

In recent years, a myriad of new and exciting adventure based activities have also emerged including swimming with the manta rays in the Yasawas, world-class shark diving in Beqa in Pacific Harbour (known as the adventure capital of Fiji), white water rafting in the remote highlands of Viti Levu, the half day eco/cultural river safari tour operated by Sigatoka River Safari on the Coral Coast, and the cascading Waitavala Water Slide, located on the Garden Island of Taveuni.

Photo Credit: David Gee

Into The Wild

For land lubbers, Fiji offers an affordable plethora of activities from trekking scenic hiking trails along rugged coastlines, volcanic mountainous terrain, through tropical rainforest and over hilly grassland with panoramic ocean vistas. Visit Kula Eco Park Fiji on the Coral Coast where nature lovers witness wildlife such as colorful parrots, orange doves and falcons and an abundance of native Fijian plants and wildflowers.

Some of Fiji’s best places to hike include Colo-i-Suva Forest Park on Viti Levu, Bouma National Heritage Park and Bouma Waterfalls on Taveuni, Lavena Coastal Walk to visit Fiji’s resident turtle and the “Naihehe” Caves, located in Sigatoka Valley on the Coral Coast. The caves allow visitors to still see the ritual sacrificial platform once used by cannibals.

Adventure mountain biking or casual scenic cycling is also an affordable way to see Fiji and several companies rent motorcycles and off-road motor bike to tourists.Travelers with a passion for horseback riding, they can saddle up and take a ride across the lush backcountry highlands of Taveuni Island or a take an evening stroll at sunset at Wailoaloa Beach at Nadi Bay or the picturesque Natadola Beach on Fiji’s Coral Coast. A hidden gem, not to be missed is Sabeto Hot Springs & Mud Baths, located between Nadi and Lautoka. Courtesy of Mother Nature, the three mud based baths allow visitors to choose from mild, medium and hot pools of mud and hot tubbin’ fun – Fijian style.

Photo Credit: Malcolm Peacey

Take To The Sky

Dare devils take to the sky with a choice of several popular scenic adventures. The ultimate thrilling rainforest adventure, zip lining has made its way to Fiji from Costa Rica in Central America and now the sport is home to local operator Zip Fiji which is located within minutes from Fiji’s adventure capital Pacific Harbour. The two-hour excursion offers an impressive range of cable rides strung high in the canopy of a Pacific Coast rainforest. Travelers can view flying foxes, birds, butterflies and frogs. Located near the village of Wainadoi, the private eco reserve excursion zigzags across the Wainadoi River where thrill seekers step up to 10 different platforms and eight zip lines up to 500 feet long and 65 feet high.

Visitors seeking a more tranquil patchwork view of Fiji can take a 60-minute hot air balloon ride over Nadi Hinterland where they float peacefully over picturesque Fiji. The trip is operated by Fiji-based Adrenalin Fiji. An awestruck bird’s eye view of Fiji can be experienced as part of the mind-blowing euphoria of a 14,000-foot tandum skydive.

Seeing is believing and what better way to see Fiji than from up above via a helicopter tour. One Fiji’s premier helicopter services is Island Hoppers, specializing in efficient and reliable helicopter service. Island Hoppers boasts a modern fleet of seven helicopters and can accommodate up to 14 passengers and provides a range of options for 20-30 scenic tours, a tour and lunch at Tokoriki Island, Treasure Island and Castaway Island Fiji in the Mamanucas and a Heli Golf Excursion to Natadola Bay to experience 18-holes of championship golf.