An island paradise that out-values Hawaii
Fiji just sounds expensive, doesn’t it? Yet nearly two years after Cyclone Winston ravaged this island nation, Fiji has rebuilt with new direct flights from San Francisco on Fiji Airways. (Check out the airline's current sale.) Dollar for dollar, it's now a better value than Hawaii, with the US dollar almost two-to-one, making it a great time to visit. Unlike other South Pacific hotspots, Fiji is actually reasonably affordable for intrepid backpackers, with plenty of hostels and village homestays.
Come for the barefoot, back-to-nature vibe, white beaches, ridiculously clear blue water, and the scent of frangipani. This is the type of place where they automatically grant visitors a four-month visa upon arrival, just in case you wanna stay... awhile. Remember The Blue Lagoon? Yeah, they filmed it here. Steering away from the main tourist areas is clutch; Lynette Wilson, president of Destination World, who lives in Fiji, recommends jumping on a domestic flight and heading to the far north. On the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji's second-largest, stay at one of seven unique villas at Savasi Island. Or, just off the island of Beqa, famous for their fire walkers, Wilson recommends Royal Davui, a favorite among scuba divers. “Taveuni is one of the few places on the planet where you can stand on the International Dateline with one foot on today and one in tomorrow,” says Wilson. But go soon, before a slew of new hotels open in late 2018. -- Jenn Mattson