Fiji is a paradise of tropical beaches, coral coasts and tiny, private islands. The hotels here range from pretty basic all the way to sublime. It’s unique in it’s culture, which is a pleasure to discover and learn about, not to mention the friendly, smiling locals. Yet so many travellers come here just for the beach. Here are several activities which we definitely suggest to our travellers, to go beyond the beach in Fiji
- Tracks and Trails
The Vidawa Rainforest Trail is great for the active traveller or photographer, it’s a full day guided trek that begins at Vidawa village, and passes through the fortified village sites of Navuga. There is ample bird life viewing as the trails lead deep into the rainforest. You’ll hike to the Tavoro Waterfalls which are stunning. If you want to do the walk with a guide (recommended, as they point out quite a bit on your surroundings and native flora and fauna) you must book in advance. The guides run Monday to Saturdays capped at a limit of 8 people for each group.
- Kayaking and rafting
The rivers in Fiji are perfect for the thrill seeker and the avid kayaker and even the novice kayaker. You can get some great kayaking and white water rafting trips that venture into the Namosi Highlands just north of Pacific Harbour. The trips are worth it for the stunning scenery, after the two hour trip you will paddle downstream by inflatable kayak for about four hours, to finish up the trip with a motorized longboat ride.
You can also fill your days with Four Wheel Drive trips, Whitewater rafting, Jet boating up the lush green Sigatoka River, and guided waterfall hikes. Most trips run from either Pacific Harbour or Suva and last about 6 hours or so.
- Caves and lagoons
For those looking for an interesting place to swim and you are staying in the Yasawas, Fiji’s pearl necklace of Islands, Sawa-i-Lau is perfect (Remember Blue Lagoon from the 80’s, with Brooke Shields?– this is where it was filmed). It is a limestone island in the midst of a string of high volcanic islands. There is a dome shaped cave that is about 15m above the water surface that has created a natural pool. The sun shines through a hole in the top to create a beautiful scene and an amazing, secluded place to swim. You technically can go here without a guide, but we still recommend arranging one as they provide interesting commentary, and for the brave – they’ll show you an underwater passage you could swim through to an adjoined area with bizarre paintings and carvings of unknown meaning – it’s a fun afternoon!
For those staying on the mainland near Sigatoka you can also explore the Naihehe Cave, which is Fiji’s largest cave system and once the home of a cannibalistic, warlike tribe.
- Culture and markets
To immerse yourself in the rich cultural, political, archaeological and linguistic side of Fiji look no further than the Fiji Museum, located in Suva. The exhibits are arranged in chronological order, and provides a great story on the history of Fiji. The pieces include, musical instruments, cooking apparatus’, jewelry, weapons, which all provide a wonderful look into the traditional life of Fiji. The average tourist never finds their way into the town of Suva let alone into the museum, which is a real shame as it is well worth the day trip if you are staying on the Coral Coast.
Stepping into the halls of the building you will find the influences of South Pacific and European cultures showcased. Within the displays is the chewed shoe of a Thomas Baker who was a Christian missionary. He was killed and cannibalized in 1867, for touching the chiefs’ head. Head upstairs and you will find displays showcasing the contributions made by the Indian workers and their descendants.
If museums are not your thing then head to the Sigatoka Sands Dunes to explore the prehistoric archaeological sites that give you a glimpse into early Fijian history.
If you do make your way over to Suva and you like to shop… be sure to check out Suva Curio & Handicraft Market. The market has a ton of craft stalls and can result in some great deals. Be sure to remember that the average price of “ibe” (mat) is about $45 to $75 depending on the weave quality so be prepared with some cash.
Navala is a small village tucked away in grassy mountains, each house is built with local materials. The village is a photographers dream, you must pay a $15 entrance fee and get permission to take photos. If arriving with a guide they will take you to the proper area to get such permission, if arriving alone just ask someone to take you to the turaga-ni-koro, which is the chief-appointed headman who will collect the fee.
For those that want to be independent, it’s easy to rent a car or hire a private car and driver. There really is so much more to Fiji than just the beach!
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