Alright, so you’re planning a trip to the sun-drenched paradise of Fiji, and the beaches are certainly nice, with gorgeous coral reefs and crystal clear waters. But is that really all you want to be doing in beautiful Fiji? Because every minute in the water means less chances to see a smile or exuberant “bula!” from the friendly locals on land. From picture-perfect off-road safaris to fresh markets and zip-lining down a ‘Sleeping Giant’, here are 10 must-dos in Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu that isn’t all about diving and snorkelling.
And be warned – you might never want to go home.
Cycle through the Fijian coast with Ecotrax
Ecotrax offers the world’s first electric rail bicycle tour, taking you through beautiful Fijian bush, rock cuttings, fields, and little villages where the kids run to give you high fives. And the best part? You can pedal as much or as little as you like! Great for families and larger groups, pass through stretches of deserted beaches and traverse untouched tracts of the famous Coral Coast, swim and snorkel, and snack on local fruits and coconuts.
Price: From AUD$119 per pax
Ecotrax tours start from their Loco Shed base in Cuvu, Sigatoka, Fiji.
Do an off-road cave safari in Sigatoka
As its name suggests, this exciting half day tour will take you through the road less travelled on a safari-style coach, from the Coral Coast town of Sigatoka past small villages, astounding look out points, and then, to the bete’s (high priest) residence for a tongue-tying sevusevu (kava ceremony) as you request for permission to venture into Naihehe Cave – Fiji’s largest cave system and the spot that was once a fortress for the country’s last cannibal tribe. Later, a scrumptious barbecue lunch awaits, and if you wish, take a swim in the nearby freshwater swimming hole.
Price: From AUD$152 per pax
All tours begin from the Coral Coast town of Sigatoka. Find out more about the Off-Road Cave Safari here.
Support local farmers by dining at Tukuni
No trip to Fiji is complete without a proper taste of the divine local cuisine, and Tukuni in Lautoka does it best with organic products sourced from nearby rural farmers. Try the fantastic ika tavu (grilled fish), kokoda, dalo, and a range of delicious curries. On Saturdays, there will be some traditional lovo sets for your feasting. And before you leave, don’t forget to check out the restaurant shop for a whole bunch of organic and gluten-free products (yaqona tea or cassava flour, anyone?) that make novel souvenirs to take home.
Price: From AUD$10 to $25 per pax
Tukuni is located at Tuvu, Lautoka, Fiji, p. +679 777 3188. Open daily 10am – 5pm.
Try kava and lovo with ‘Jewel of Fiji’ tour
Offered by Discover Fiji Tours, the popular Jewel of Fiji day tour starts off with a mesmerising ride on a motorised longboat down the Navua River to a lovely Fijian village where you can partake in a spectacular kava ceremony, ceremonial dance, traditional (and absolutely mouthwatering, we should add) lovo lunch, and craft demonstrations of basket weaving and masi-painting. Then, continue to the biggest waterfall on the along the river, where you can enjoy leisurely swim under the cascading waters. After a brief ride on a traditional bamboo billibilli raft, you’ll be taken back to your hotel!
Price: From AUD$130 per pax
The Jewel of Fiji tour is organised by Discover Fiji tours, available daily.
Shop fresh produce at Suva Municipal Market
If there’s ever a place that can be considered the heart of Suva, it’s this bustling market of the freshest produce you can imagine. It’s easy to spend an hour or so walking around the Suva Municipal Market‘s well-organised aisles, trying to recognise and sample everything from cassavas and plantains to bitter gourds, jackfruit, dalo (taro) and paw paws (papaya). Try some of the local cherry chillies if you dare, and buy a bottle of coconut oil or a bundle of kava root – all cheaper than at the supermarket!
Suva Municipal Market is located at Harris Rd, Suva, Fiji. Open Mon-Thu 7am – 6pm, Fri-Sat 6am – 6pm. Closed Sun.
Visit Fiji’s only private island beach club
Come on, there has to be at least one beach club on this list, so why not make it the best? Malamala Beach Club has the advantage of having its own private island, which means guests are totally undisturbed from the outside world. Open early in the morning till late afternoon, you can get here from Port Denarau right in the heart of Nadi. Our advice? Book a cabana to ensure maximum comfort as you lie back and soak in the sun, then make your way to the restaurant for incredible modern Fijian prepared by Fiji’s celebrity chef Lance Seeto. Activities like snorkelling, kayaking, and paddle-boarding also come free with a day pass.
Price: From AUD$108 per pax
A day pass to Malamala Beach Club includes vessel transfer from Port Denarau at 10am daily. Departures from the beach club are at 4.15pm and 5.15pm daily.
Immerse in culture and history at The Fiji Museum
What better place to learn about a country than its national museum? Tucked away in Suva’s historic Thurston Gardens, The Fiji Museum offers in insider look at the fascinating history of the Fiji Islands, including cultural objects (read: bones and half-eaten shoes) that trace the history of indigenous islanders back over 200 years. The centrepiece here is the massive Ratu Finau, a double-hulled canoe with an enclosed deck that’s over 13 metres, as well as war clubs, taxidermied animals, and the rudder made famous by Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). The museum also has a reference library, gift shops, and the Mimosa Café that serves up surprisingly delicious quiche.
Price: AUD$5 per pax
The Fiji Museum is located at Fiji Museum, Suva, Fiji, p. +679 331 5944. Open Mon-Thu 9.30am – 4.30pm, Fri 9.30am – 4pm, Sat 9.30am – 4.30pm. Closed Sun.
Hike the Sigatoka Sand Dunes
Fancy going on a good hike? Pay a visit to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes at the mouth of the Sigatoka River on Viti Levu island. The national park is home to 650 hectares of sand dunes up to 60 metres high, where remains of primitive inhabitants as far back as 2600 years have been uncovered. Just make sure you do the hike with one of the local rangers, who will take you pass the beach, a small mahogany forest, some incredibly scenic grassland, and into the grey sand dunes. It’s no Sahara Desert, but the place certainly has its own charm.
Price: AUD$7 per pax
Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park is located along the main Queen’s Highway in the Coral Coast region near Sigatoka.
Shop crafts at the Nadi Handicraft Market
In the main town of Nadi on Viti Levu island, you’ll find the Nadi Handicraft Market, chock full with traditional Fijian handicrafts for sale – all locally made, of course. Look out for exquisite baskets woven using pandanus palm, which are better than their coconut counterparts, exotic wood carvings depicting Fiji culture, and all sorts of bowls and other knick knacks crafted from freshwater pearls and the shell of a coconut. Always be sure to agree on a price before requesting anything, and while bargaining is acceptable, try not to go overboard.
Nadi Handicraft Market is located at the corner of Main St & Koroivolu Ave, Nadi, Fiji. Open daily.
Garden of the Sleeping Giant
Spend a few hours roaming the 35-acre Garden of the Sleeping Giant, one of the South Pacific’s best kept horticultural secrets on the foothills of the Nausori Highlands. There is an astounding variety of orchids here (some even indigenous to Fiji) along with groves of bamboo, palms, frangipani, and pawpaw (mango). There are four waterfalls that serve as an excellent backdrop for your photos, and open fields make for a scenic picnic spot. If you are game for more excitement, how about zipping through the towering canopies with over 10 separate zip lines to choose from?
Price: AUD$12 per pax
Garden of the Sleeping Giant is located at Wailoko Rd, Nadi, Fiji, p. +679 672 3418. Open daily.