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Fiji for Foodies

Fiji conjures images of golden beaches, swaying palms and sunshine. But did you know it is also an emerging food-loverís paradise? The island nation is made up of 333 islands and a thousand ways to eat, from cooking classes to local markets and resort fine dining to traditional treats, fruits and fish aplenty, as well as an abundance of curry dishes and coconut cream-based delights if your little ones are particularly spicy-tongued.

Fijian fare is a unique mix of the different ethnicities peppered throughout the island at various times in history: the Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians came first, followed by the Indians, Chinese and Europeans. Each culture has brought a splash of culinary diversity, seen in the dishes served both at resorts and in local homes.

vanuatu with kids

Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa

Traditional dining in Fiji is a community event and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in this Pacific culture is by joining an experience such as Shangri-Laís Fijian Resort & Spaís Marau Village visits.

The evening opens with a Polynesian dance performance and a fire and knife show, before guests are seated around a large communal table to enjoy the island flavours with bare hands.

The little ones will love taking part in the local dining tradition of lovo Ė food cooked deep in the earth. Here, meats, chicken, seafood and veggies are wrapped up in banana leaves and cooked in an underground oven built by digging a hole and filling it with firewood and red hot stones.

Flavours of Fiji Cooking School

Slicing, rolling, baking and boiling up Fijiís favourite foods is a great experience for young and old alike. The kidsí classes at the Flavours of Fiji Cooking School will have the little ones whipping up home-style dishes, from Ika Vakalolo (coconut-style fish) to Dhal soup.

Guided through by brilliant local cooks and with a focus on the nutritional properties of the islandís in-season foods Ė including root crops, local veggies, chutneys, juices, traditional sweets and fruits Ė this Fijian flavour tour is suitable for all levels of experience and kids eight to 16 years.

After your little chefs are tuckered out, the adults can gather around a community bowl of crushed kava root. This traditional, tongue-tingling drink is known as yaqona, and owing to its medicinal and cultural significance, thereís a fascinating village ceremony that goes along with consuming it in the presence of new friends, island guests and loved ones.

vanuatu with kids

Fruit and Fish dishes

The daily Nadi produce market is the best place to get a taste of whatís in season and also an amazing way to interact with the local people. Unlike many noisy and bustling markets worldwide, itís invitingly kid-friendly, reflective of the laidback Fijian culture itself.

Food hawkers gather in the streets, casually chatting with one another over their bundles of fruit and veg: sweet papayas, mangoes, red and green chillies, fresh ginger, avocados and, of course, lots and lots of coconuts!

Fijiís seafood is legendary; its fish, prawn, clams, lobster and cray creations simply melt in the mouth. In the seafood section of the market, fishermen jovially tempt passersby with their daily catch. Fish-frenzied families also must try Kokoda, Fijian coconut ceviche, an island favourite. This deceptively simple but super-delish dish is made from raw local fish cured in lemon or lime juice and served in coconut cream tossed with onions and chillies.


Even on an island paradise, mum and dad sometimes need that afternoon caffeine hit to keep pace with the ever-energetic ankle-biters. After the kids have done their 200th backflip into the crystal blue waters, recharge at the family-run Bulaccino Cafť for some of the best coffee and pick-me-up treats in Fiji.

Vanuatu with kids

This article featured in volume 48 of Holidays with kids. Enjoyed it? Subscribe to see more!

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