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Fiji says Bula!

Now the sun is out, the water sparkling and the famous Bula smile is wide and welcoming, thereís more reason than ever to love Fiji, writes Sheriden Rhodes.

It hasnít taken long for the friendliest nation on earth to dust off, clean up and welcome families back following the aftermath of Cyclone Winston. Holidaymakers are already returning to the Pacific Island nation Ė some literally on the first available flights over.

Australians, in particular, have had a long love affair with Fiji, enamored by its clear, fish-filled waters, string of islands and balmy charm. Above all, travellers fall for the warmth and generous spirit of what are surely the friendliest people on earth; readily taking you and your children under their wing to give you a trip of a lifetime. All the reasons to love Fiji have survived, only now the welcome Ė if possible Ė is even warmer and the gratitude from locals that you have returned to the beautiful islands they call home more keenly felt.

The friendly locals
It doesnít matter whether youíre staying at a five-star resort or on a rustic island with a Robinson Crusoe feel; the welcome youíll receive is equally warm. For Fijians, family is everything, and the locals have an instinctive way with children. Itís only natural for them to gather kids Pied Piper-style to build castles in the sand, fish off the jetty or kick a ball around. And boy can they laugh; it is simply impossible not to smile when you hear a grown Fijian man or woman having a giggle, so be prepared for their love of life to rub off on your entire family!

Kids club heaven
If mum and dad are in need of the three Rís Ė rest, relaxation and romance Ė most Fijian resorts offer interactive kidsí clubs, so children and parents can both make the most of their island getaway. Kidís clubs range from onsite creative programmes Ė some even in the shade of beautiful mango trees Ė through to programmes based outside in the natural surrounds Fiji is famous for. Either way, you can expect professional, caring staff who will ensure your child has plenty of new stories to tell come dinner time.

If your little one is too young for kidís clubs (most have a minimum age of four), Fiji is also renowned for its fantastic nannies, typically mothers themselves, who will feed, play and rock your child to sleep in a beachside hammock like they would one of their own. While the kids enjoy crab hunts, shell making, traditional Fijian dancing and craft, mum and dad can enjoy a snorkel in Fijiís tropical waters, a massage in the spa or a cozy dinner for two. Resorts famous for their nannies include the award-winning eco-resort Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort, the Outrigger Fiji and Malolo Island Resort.

Island culture
Although there are times when all you want to do is luxuriate in the bubble of your beachside resort, immersing yourself in the gentle and friendly culture of the Fijians is the best way to get a feel for island life. Paying a visit to a local village is an eye-opening experience (and the perfect place to pick up a souvenir), attending a torch lighting ceremony or watching a traditional dance will have your kids moving to the music, and tasting Fijian fare is a always a popular way to experience local life.

Family fun
As one of the top family-friendly destinations on the planet, Fiji is geared for adults and kids alike, so itís simply a matter of picking where on on island you want to stay. The Coral Coast is laden with manicured resorts so idyllic you wonít want to venture far from your not-so-humble abode; Denararu Island boasts Fijiís signature sand, surf and sun; the smaller and more laidback islands of Mamanuca and Yasawa will make you feel as though you have stumbled upon a post-card perfect hidden paradise; and the coral of Northern Fiji is a snorkelerís haven. Catering to all budgets, accommodation options range from budget hotels and sprawling beachfront properties through to five -star island resorts with all the trimmings.

In the words of Bartholomew Simpson, General Manager of Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort: ďFiji is ready to receive all guests with the same happy hearts and big Bula smiles as before.Ē And itís true. Nowhere will you receive a more enthusiastic greeting Ė the infectious bellow of ĎBula!í - than at this tropical retreat just waiting to welcome you home.

***Hot tip***
Follow Tourism Fijiís Twitter page,, for updates on Fiji following Cyclone Winston.

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