Living in Fiji

Iyna Bort Caruso

Fiji gave birth to its tourism industry when a hotel opened on a stretch of beach along the Coral Coast in the 1950s that caught the attention of Australians and New Zealanders. The hotel is long gone but visitors haven’t stopped coming.


Fiji is a chain of more than 330 islands, fringed with coral reefs, and located about 1,600 miles northeast of New Zealand. About a third of the islands are inhabited. 


Two major islands account for the vast majority of the population, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.


Viti Levu, the largest and most developed island in the archipelago, is home to the capital and main cruise port of Suva, a cosmopolitan city with a large expat community. Suva’s architecture is a mix of modern and historic with buildings dating back to the British colonial era that lasted nearly a century. Viti Levu residents mostly live along the coasts while the remote interior is largely rural highlands and river valleys.


Outside of Suva is the Coral Coast, a 50-mile long string of beaches between Suva and Nadi, where Fiji’s international airport is located.  


To the north is the second largest island of Vanua Levu, the heart of the sugar cane industry. It’s a quieter island, blessed with rainforests and nature reserves, with a more traditional village way of life than Vita Levu.


The Mamanuca Islands are where surfers, sailors and divers flock. This chain of about 20 islands off the west of Vita Levu boasts some of the world’s most challenging surfing breaks.


Fijian real estate attracts buyers for the value it offers compared to other South Pacific resort destinations. Australians and New Zealanders make up the largest group of international homeowners. Americans have growing presence, bolstered by nonstop flights from West Coast cities. Bungalow-style homes called buresare representative of traditional architecture. Increasingly, new residences are being built in resort developments in which homeowners can take advantage of amenities. 


Freehold property is only available in less than 10 percent of the county. More common are land-leases, usually available for a period of 99 years.