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Fiji is developing rapidly, with modern, fast-paced towns replacing what were once small villages and sleepy backwater ports. However, a few places still harken back to the old South Sea days of coconut planters, beach bums, and missionaries.

  • Lautoka: Fiji's second-largest city is still small enough to walk around, and it's genteel citizens normally won't hassle you to "come in, take a look" at their shops. The town was laid out by the British, with broad streets, shady sidewalks, and pleasant parks.

  • Sigatoka: The riverfront town of Sigatoka, on the Coral Coast, isn't as pleasing to the eye as Lautoka, but it still makes its living not from tourists but from trading with the farmers in the picturesque Sigatoka River Valley. It's the only place in Fiji where I've seen Muslim women wearing head-to-toe burkas.

  • Kadavu: The long, skinny island of Kadavu, some 100km (60 miles) south of Viti Levu, has a road on one end, but you must take a boat to reach all its best spots. That's one bit of evidence of how little Kadavu has changed. Unlike Fiji's other large islands, it has no sugar-cane farms, no mongooses, no iguanas, no myna birds, and few if any Fiji Indians. The result: It's like the rest of Fiji used to be.

  • Suva: The British are long gone, and Suva today is the largest, most vibrant city in the South Pacific islands. But among its new high-rise office towers are grand colonial buildings, orderly parks, and a mixed population that dates back to the days of the Raj.

  • Rakiraki: On the northern tip of Viti Levu, the Fijian village of Rakiraki and its surrounding countryside seem caught in a time warp, provided you don't notice the few small real-estate developments creeping into the hills (will we Westerners ever stop wanting to buy our own piece of paradise?).

  • Levuka (Ovalau Island): No other town has remained the same after a century as much as has Levuka, Fiji's first European-style town and its original colonial capital in the 1870s. The dramatic cliffs of Ovalau Island hemmed in the town and prevented growth, so the government moved to Suva in 1882. Levuka looks very much as it did then, with a row of clapboard general stores along picturesque Beach Street.

  • Savusavu: You're apt to see more Americans strolling the streets of picturesque Savusavu than anywhere else in Fiji, since so many of them have purchased land near there, but the town still has the feel of the days when schooners would pick up cargo at places like the Copra Shed.

  • Taveuni: Fiji's lush "Garden Island" has changed little since Europeans bought land holdings and started coconut plantations in the 19th century. You can stay with descendants of one of those early planters at Vatuwiri Farm Resort (tel. 888 0316; www.vatuwirifiji.com). With a large population of indigenous plants and animals, Taveuni is a nature lover's delight and the best place to go hiking in Fiji.

  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.