'I just returned from Fiji with my toddler. Here's my... honest review.'

Mamamia Must-Go is your insider guide on what to see, do and eat at popular holiday destinations. It's where you'll find honest recommendations from the women who've been there. This week, Stacey shares her top tips for Fiji with kids.

Long, luxurious sleep-ins. 

Free-flowing cocktails. 

Nightclubs where you can dance till the sun comes up. 

Before I had a baby, these were the things that came to mind first when I planned a holiday. 

So it’s hilarious to think that, this year, the first words I googled when organising a trip were “family-friendly destinations”.

Ha! Old me would be in disbelief. 

But I wasn't surprised that the location that popped up again and again was Fiji, and I knew it would be the perfect place to test the waters travelling with our toddler for the first time. 

Just a three- to four-hour flight from Sydney, Fiji is one of the most convenient overseas flights you can do and the local people adore little kids. 

Having been lucky enough to visit a few times when I was younger, I remember often seeing hotel staff wandering around doing their work with a guest’s baby on their hip.

But I’ll admit, I was still incredibly nervous about heading overseas. 

Some days it feels like a slog just to get out of the house with a toddler, let alone get onto a plane with a week’s worth of toys, snacks and essentials (seriously why do kids need so much stuff?!). 


And I’d seen all the disparaging talk online about how holidays aren’t relaxing once you have a child, they’re just parenting in a new location.

But I found that, while travelling with a toddler is definitely different, it is absolutely bloody worth it.

So before I share my top recommendations of things to do and places to eat, here are a few lessons I learned that might help you plan your next family getaway.

Think about the flight time 

The version of myself that booked our flights was clearly delulu because she thought it would be a good idea to get a 6am flight when we live an hour from the airport.

Yep, if you’re doing the maths right now, that meant a 2am wake-up call.

And we have never once managed to transfer our daughter from her bed to the car (or vice-versa!) so we were being a little bit too optimistic. 

While Qantas and Virgin both have flights to Nadi, Fiji Airways is the most popular and they tend to have a very early morning flight, then a late lunchtime flight each day.

My thinking was that we didn’t want to waste the day and might as well get there sooner rather than later. But for us it meant an overtired toddler before we even set foot on the plane. And she was too excited by her new environment to nap once on-board either. 

If we did it again, we’d definitely opt for the afternoon flight. But if you have a good little sleeper who’ll doze back off again in the car, then this was definitely a good way to make the most of your time, particularly if you only have a few days away. 


The major benefit is that you arrive at your accommodation right in time for room check-in, as opposed to late at night. 

Figure out what you want from your accommodation.

While I’ve been to Fiji a few times before, I still spent an obscene amount of hours pouring over all the different accommodation options so you don’t have to!

And I should point out this isn’t sponsored in any way. I just love sharing travel knowledge.

For this trip, we chose to stay at the Radisson Blu Resort on Denarau Island for a few reasons. 

Denarau is super handy if you’re travelling with kids because of its proximity to the airport – around 20 minutes' drive. And being our first time, we wanted things to be as simple as possible! 

The cluster of big resorts here means there are countless food and entertainment options within walking distance or you can catch the shuttle between them. 

The proximity to the Port Denarau Marina also means you can easily enjoy day trips to nearby islands without adding much transfer time. 

We also chose Radisson Blu because they have one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments and we really wanted to have the space to spread out. My toddler is a little busybody who won't sleep if anyone is in the room with her, so being able to have her cot in the living room and close the bedroom door so my husband and I could watch TV or hang out on the balcony was super handy.


The Kids Club facilities were also fantastic. While kids have to be aged three and up, you can opt to hire a nanny (which is very affordable!) for smaller kids so they can go to any suitable activities and you can get a little time to have a cocktail by the pool uninterrupted.

While I was naturally nervous about leaving our daughter for a few hours, she loved it so much that she sternly told me “I stay here, Mumma” when I went to pick her up.

The lagoon-style pool also made it much easier with a little one who wanted to get in and out of the water all day. Plus, there's a swim-up bar in the family pool which, I'll be honest, was the real draw card. 


However, if you’d like to get away from the crowds and get more of a taste of island life, I’d recommend travelling to the Coral Coast. 

I’ve previously stayed at The Warwick and found that even though it’s still a resort, the vibe is authentic to the Fijian culture and the beaches are absolutely pristine. It's much more secluded while still offering great activities and a kids' club for little ones.  

They do all-inclusive food and drink packages too, so it’s an amazing option if you’re trying to stick to a budget.

However, keep in mind that it is about a two-hour drive from the airport so this needs to be factored in with smaller kids. 

The Shangri La, Yanacu Island, and Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay are also great options away from the hustle and bustle. And there are countless accommodation types dotted across the many nearby islands (I've heard wonderful things about Castaway Island).

Side note: if your little one is still sleeping in a cot, it’s worth confirming what type of cots they have at your accommodation. My toddler is quite tall and we got given a compact-size metal cot – which is pretty standard for most hotels – but led to a lot of wake-ups from her knocking into the sides. If I had my time over, I’d take a porta-cot and have her sleep in it for a few nights at home beforehand to get used to it.


Start packing early.

It still surprises me just how much “stuff” you need to keep a tiny human alive and occupied. 

Between counting out how many nappies we’d need to see us through the week and debating how many snacks was too many snacks, it can quickly pile up so it’s good to start sooner rather than later. 

I began two weeks out, which seemed ridiculous, but every time I thought of something else we might need I just chucked it in the open suitcase and then figured out what to cull closer to the time. 

There were so many tiny things that would’ve slipped my mind otherwise – like a swim nappy, pool floaties and her toothbrush. 

It won’t be as relaxing as a holiday pre-kids, and that’s okay.

It will come as no surprise that the same parenting challenges still exist when you are by the ocean.

Kids still have a meltdown if you say no to ice-cream and they still want to start their day at 5.30am even though you desperately want a few more minutes' rest in the fancy hotel bed.

But despite knowing that beforehand, it didn't really sink in until we were actually there. 

In the first two days, I could feel how tightly wound I was because I wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. I was expending so much energy just trying to bloody relax!

By day three, I gave myself a harsh talking to about lowering my expectations. 


Life with kids is unpredictable and messy and wonderful and I couldn’t plan the holiday to the last minute like I used to. And that was so much better. As cheesy as it sounds, I learned to let go of what I expected the holiday to look like and just enjoyed it for what it was…

Special, uninterrupted time with my husband and daughter. 

Here are a few recommendations that we really enjoyed:


Tivua Island cruise

We booked a day cruise out to Tivua Island through Trip Advisor based off the stellar reviews and it didn’t disappoint. The boat was large enough that our little one could roam around and enjoy looking out at the water while the crew sang. The island itself is gorgeous with plenty of activities and a family-friendly barbecue lunch. They also had a little kids' activity station set up in the middle of the island where they could enjoy playing in the sand and painting coral while the adults went snorkelling.

Malamala Beach Club

Touted as the world’s first island beach club, this was the perfect day trip to fully unwind and feel a million miles away from regular life. There’s an infinity pool, open-air massages, snorkelling, hammocks and luxe day beds – it was bliss. While kids are welcome here, it’s definitely geared more at adults so it’s worth considering using a nanny for the day if you feel comfortable. But the kids that were there were having the time of their lives! 

Bula Bus 

If you’re staying on Denarau Island, the Bula Bus is a great way to hop between the resorts or head down to the port to enjoy the selection of shops and restaurants. Sure, it’s incredibly touristy, but every kid I saw riding it had a look of wonderment on their face so it’s worth getting a day pass.




While, as the name suggests, this popular restaurant serves Mexican, there is also a traditional Fijian buffet on special nights, so there's plenty to choose from. The staff here were incredibly friendly and welcoming for all the kids, plus they have Fijian dancing and fire shows throughout the evening. 

Cardo’s Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar

One downside to Denarau is that the meals can be pretty expensive at the resorts, so we loved popping down to the Port Denarau Marina for more choices. Cardo’s does delicious meals and has a humongous kids' corner that we practically had to pry our daughter out of when we left. Plus, they have $10FJD frozen mojitos, which works out to about $6.50. Bargain!

Tatavu Grill and Bar

If you’re looking for something special, this restaurant, located inside the Sheraton Fiji Resort, has the most stunning views at sunset and diners eat with their toes in the sand.

This writer paid for her trip in full. 

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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