When it comes to tropical island paradises, you can’t get much better than Fiji or Hawaii. However other than their sun-kissed beaches, these islands are very different. So making the right decision between Hawaii or Fiji for your dream getaway is vitally important.
Having spent time in both, we compare Fiji vs Hawaii below, showing you what to expect in each, and some of the best places to visit.
Fiji vs Hawaii: Stunning paradise islands
Both Hawaii and Fiji have some fantastic beaches, but without a doubt Fiji has the better beaches of the two. The island has gorgeous white sandy stretches of coastline, and crystal clear warm water with some of the best snorkeling in the world. With around 300 islands and cays, it’s still possible to find beaches in Fiji that feel secluded and cut off from the world.
Fiji also has a lush hilly interior, but Hawaii is more of an adventure-lovers paradise with its dramatic jungle-covered mountains, and superb surfing. In fact Hawaii’s highest peak is a massive 4207 meters, compared to Fiji’s highest mountain which stands at 1324 meters.
Therefore Fiji is the better holiday choice if your looking to relax, island hop, and really experience life on a tropical island. In contrast, Hawaii should be your choice if you want sun, surf, and spectacular hikes.
Regarding which is cheaper, both can be done on a budget. However Fiji is probably slightly cheaper in terms of accommodation and food. This island also has several upmarket resorts with stunning romantic overwater bungalows. They are expensive, but much cheaper than in other popular honeymoon destinations like Bora Bora or the Maldives.
Below we look at some of our favorite spots in both, before comparing the culture and nightlife in each. Spoiler alert – they’re very different!
As a general rule, the more remote you go in Fiji, the more spectacular the beach. Some of our favorite beaches are on the dreamy Mamanuca Islands. This group of 20 outlying islands has a real castaway feel to them, and no wonder – it’s here that the U.S. television series Castaway was filmed. Just be careful, as seven of the islands are covered by water at high tide!
There are beautiful beaches on the main island too, like the one at Natadola Bay. The crystal clear water here lapping against the sun-kissed sand makes it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a beer.
The snorkeling is fantastic in Fiji too, and we believe better than in Hawaii. One of our favorite snorkeling spots is Rainbow Reef at Taveuni. As the name suggests, expect multi-colored coral to go with the colorful reef fish you will see! A great underwater camera – such as this one – is a must.
However Fiji is also a vacation destination where there are many things to do away from the beach too. This volcanic island nation is full of mountains, hills and rainforests that are begging to be explored. (Recommended: Are There Snakes in Fiji).
On Taveuni, hike through the rainforest at Bouma National Park and head to the towering Tavoro Falls. This group of three waterfalls have pools that are perfect for swimming, all within a spectacular forest backdrop. While there keep an eye on the trees – Fiji is home to many colorful species of parrot.
Feeling energetic after a few days resting on the beach? Then tackle Fiji’s highest peak Mount Tomanivi on Viti Levu. The hike can be tough going, but the panoramic views across Fiji and the Pacific from the top are just breathtaking.
Hawaii is a place which has an abundance to offer away from the seaside. However for travelers leaning towards a Hawaiian holiday, there’s still many great beaches where you can enjoy that famous laid-back surfer vibe.
Some of our favorites include the less well-known Waimea Bay Beach on Oahu, and the stunning Hanalei Bay on Kauai island. For great snorkeling and the chance to see turtles, then visit Hanauma Bay on Oahu.
For a more fun-fueled beach adventure, pick up a cocktail at the famous Waikiki Beach and get chatting to locals. If you’re feeling energetic, a hike up Hawaii’s Diamond Head – which looms over Waikiki – will give you spectacular panoramic views of Honolulu and Oahu.
The Hawaiian island of Kauai was the backdrop for the film Jurassic Park, so expect great hiking and walking trails that will take you back in time. A superb walking and hiking in Hawaii book – such as this one – would be a great addition to your suitcase.
The tropical forests here on the ‘Garden Isle’ make their way up the mountain-sides towards sharp dramatic peaks. However the reefs on this island are also world renowned among divers, and offer spectacular scuba and snorkeling opportunities.
Fiji vs Hawaii: Explore the sights and experience the island
You will find a friendly welcome in both Fiji and Hawaii, and both are culture-rich regions. However if you’re looking for a lively nightlife and shopping scene then Hawaii will be a better vacation destination for you.
Fiji is more of a laid back nation, where ‘Fiji time‘ exists and things can move a bit slow. Expect waiters to take their time, and buses to arrive late. It’s all part of this island’s charm.
Below we look at the culture in each island, and what you should expect if you choose to visit!
Multi-ethnic and multi-religious Fiji has a fascinating culture, some of it stretching back many centuries. One of their ancient traditions is fire walking, which originated on the island of Beqa. The locals on this island still ceremoniously walk across hot coals, making Beqa a must visit for culture aficionados. (Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Fiji Culture).
This culture rich country is a place where many superstitions still exist – such as believing that coconuts choose who to fall on! But it’s also an incredibly friendly and warm nation, where tourists are encouraged to intermingle with locals.
Somes girls are still taught from a young age to weave baskets and bags, and boys are taught to make bowls, spears and even ‘cannibal forks’ – a fork that was used to eat the flesh of enemies! Thankfully they’re just made as tourist items now, and you can buy them and many other crafts at the Handicraft Market in Nadi.
Fiji is home to a sizable population of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims. The largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere, Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, can also be found in Nadi. This ornate colorful building should be on your list of places to visit as you temple hop around the island.
Hawaiian culture – aloha wear, hula, and luau for example – is almost better known that Hawaii’s gorgeous sunsets and swimming waters. So getting a taste of the real Hawaiian experience is a must if visiting here.
The iconic luau – a traditional Hawaiian feast with entertainment – should be the first thing on your list. We recommend the Smith Family Garden Luau in Kauai due to the delicious traditional food on offer, and the colorful entertainment and dances. But almost everywhere on Hawaii you can find a spectacular luau experience.
With your interest piqued in Hawaiian culture after taking part in a luau, head to the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Oahu to learn more about the Polynesian people and culture.
Hawaii is also home to one of the most notorious war crimes in history – the WW2 attack on Pearl Harbor. For military history buffs, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is therefore a must visit.
Fiji vs Hawaii: A taste of island life
With both being tropical island paradises, expect an abundance of fruit, coconuts and fresh fish. Below we pit Fiji vs Hawaii as we look at the cuisine on offer.
Fiji’s cuisine has been formed though a mix of indigenous and Indian influences due to a sizable population with Indian roots.
Freshly caught seafood is popular throughout Fiji, and fish curry – made with coconut milk – is often on the menu. Another fish dish to try is kokoda -this is a raw fish salad that is commonly served in a coconut shell!
If you get invited to a lovo say yes straight away! This traditional Fijian banquet involves cooking a large amount of meat (chicken or pork), fish and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves and then baking it in an oven dug in the ground. It’s a real community affair, and the food’s delicious.
Hawaiian food is truly unique, combining Polynesian, European, Japanese and American tastes.
A must try – and what you will almost certainly have at a luau – is Kālua pork. A whole pig is slow cooked for several hours and then the meat pulled apart ready to be eaten. It’s absolutely delicious.
For something that has more of an American feel, try loco moco – a burger steak, fried eggs and gravy. Perfect after a day swimming or hiking.
Shaved ice is also common in Hawaii, and is perfect to cool down on a hot day. This tasty treat is flavored with flavored syrup, and is sometimes served with ice cream too!
Fiji vs Hawaii: Which should you visit?
Both Hawaii and Fiji make excellent holiday destinations. But if you’re seeking more time on the beach with a cocktail in your hand, then Fiji will probably be the better choice. In general Fiji is cheaper and has a range of accommodation choices, including upmarket overwater bungalows that are perfect for honeymoons and romantic holidays.
However if you want an active holiday, and have more than a week to spare, then Hawaii and its constituent islands will provide a holiday that can be packed full of culture and adventure, as well as great beaches and snorkeling spots.
Recommended for your trip to Fiji or Hawaii
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