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Nadi, Denarau & Lautoka Area Attractions

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Attractions in Nadi and beyond

There a plethora of attractions across Nadi, Denarau and Lautoka, that will appeal to everyone from backpackers to denizens of 5-Star hotels. Activities range from visiting historical monuments (such as the Momi Guns pictured above) to shopping, scuba diving, trekking or clubbing.

Nightlife

It’s generally pretty quiet round Nadi but there are a few local nightclubs in town, which can be entertaining but full of drunks. The best local place is Ed’s, a nightclub in the Martintar area midway between Nadi Town and the airport. The best place to meet locals and lonely flight attendants are the hotels such as the Tanoa, Mocambo for weekend dances.

Ed's Bar - Martintar in Nadi
Ed’s Bar – Martintar in Nadi

Other Things to do

Shopping

Get your souvenirs in Nadi. Jack’s in downtown Nadi is a good place to start. They have a good quality merchandise ranging from handicrafts to clothing. It’s more like a department store. Sogos, across the street and down the road from Jack’s has good quality clothing for men and women. Check out their Tabu Soro sports wear. Be sure and see the public market in town. Oh, yeah the Post Office has a great array of postcards sand stamps for philatelists.

Go to the Beach

Wailioaloa Beach is a 1/2 mile stretch of (not particularly attractive) brown sand butbis the best beach in the Nadi area. On its north end is Travellers Beach Resort and to the south is Club Fiji . The beach is popular with local families that swim there (adults swim usually fully clothed) or beer drinkers, particularly on the weekends. At Club Fiji or Travelers one can buy a beer a meal and/or use the hotel facilities.

Club Fiji Resort - Nadi Attractions
Club Fiji

Swimming

When the waves churn the water near the shore swimming is not the best. If you are going to swim at all, you’re better off on the north end. The south end has a preponderance of mud flats, especially at low tide. However, the Club Fiji is a nicer venue. There is a pool, better restaurant, landscaped gardens, deck chairs, Mexican style palapas and water sports facilities.

Golf

Denarau Golf Club
Courtesy Denarau Golf and Racquet Club Fiji

Nadi Airport Golf Club (5882 yards, par 70) which could more appropriately called the “Runway Way Club”. It lies adjacent to Nadi International Airport. It’s open to the public and very reasonably priced.

Denarau Golf & Racket Club (7150 yards, par 72) which is part of the Denarau/Sheraton Hotel complex. Designed by Mr. Eiichi Motohashi of Pannya Planning, Japan, it opened on the 9th June, 1993. Like the rest of the Denarau complex it was built on a mangrove swamp. It is distinguished by its marine shaped bunkers and greens. The course has water hazards on 15 of its 18 holes. It’s a challenging, aesthetically pleasing course.

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Various Sights & Attractions

Nausori Highlands Rd

The turn-off to the Nausori Highlands is not too difficult to find. The access road is called the ‘Nadi Back Rd’ and it branches off the Queens Rd about three km south of Nadi Airport in an area called Nawaka, adjacent to a school playing field. Also accessible on the southern edge of Nadi town. It’s a bit more difficult to find from the Nadi end but it can be done. Before leaving, it’s good idea to contact the Public Works Department, the police or the Forestry Department to get a report on the current road conditions in the mountains.

Nausori Highlands
Nausori Highlands

To get to the highlands road, take the Queens Rd as far as Nawaka and turn inland; or from Nadi go east from Nadi’s main street. If uncertain, ask a police officer – chances are other people will shrug their heads. Allow a day for this trip and take a picnic lunch. The road will be rough, but the scenery will be fantastic and well worth the drive.

Navala Village - Nadi Attractions
Navala Village (courtesy Merbabu, Wikipedia Commons)
There are several options for traveling the highlands road, depending on how adventurous you are:
Option 1

You can go as far as the major junction at Mamanuca Bukuya and then go on to Ba in the north and connect with Kings Rd. This is a long and tortuous route (about a three-hour drive) ideally suited for a 4WD. The highlight is passing through Navala village deep in the mountains. The bures in this settlement are almost exclusively traditional thatched-roof homes, which are becoming a rarity in Fiji. To see this magnificent village perched on the side of a river valley is worth the trip. The village does, by the way, take in visitors for a set daily fee. There are also fees for photographing the village. You can also reach Navala via a 1-1/2-hour bus ride from Ba three times daily.

Option 2

The second option is to take the highlands road to its eastern extremity at Bukuya village and continue south 60 km along the Sigatoka Valley and eventually to Sigatoka town. The condition of the road is apt to be much better on this route. Make sure you stop at Nakabuta village along the Sigatoka Valley road, to purchase pottery. This is also a lovely route, but at least a three-hour drive.

Sigatoka Valley
Sigatoka Valley
Option 3

A third option is to go as far as you feel comfortable, eat your picnic lunch and head back to Nadi. The scenery along the way begins with rolling hills studded with cane. About 15 to 20 km inland you get into mountains, which tower over deep cleft valleys. Much of the land has been planted with Caribbean pine, which is already yielding valuable building material and, in the form of wood chips (visible in an immense pile at Lautoka Wharf), is also a major export product. Deeper into the interior the landscape becomes more rugged, precipitous and wet.

The inhabitants of the occasional villages are poor, eking out a living from their dalo and cassava patches. It is not unusual to see them walking along the road, bush knives at their sides, on their way to the family teitei (vegetable patch) or perhaps leading a pair of oxen. Some residents of the area, mounted on horses, hunt wild pigs using only bush knives and dogs. After school, children will be making the often long trek back to their homes. Perhaps you will see them toting their books, or village women with prawn nets heading for a stream.

Wailoaloa Beach at Smuggler's Cove
Wailoaloa Beach at Smuggler’s Cove

Wailoaloa & Newtown Beaches.

These are great places to jog or have a picnic if you’re staying near the Mercure Hotel, the Nadi Bay Motel, Traveller’s Beach Resort, Horizon Beach Resort or the Newtown Beach Motel.

From the airport head south about five km and turn right at Wailoaloa Rd, which is about 100 meters past the Dominion. Continue past the Nadi Bay Hotel about three km and follow the road straight to the beach. A vast reach of sand stretches to your left and your right. If you continue to the right a few km (down the beach) you will arrive at Newtown Beach where Traveller’s, Horizon and Newtown beach accommodation is located. If you don’t want to walk to Newtown from Wailoaloa Beach, turn right from Nadi Bay Rd onto Enamanu Rd and follow it to the end. The public access at Newtown Beach stretches northwards from the Turtle Island Airways ‘terminal’.

Garden of the Sleeping Giant - Nadi Attractions
Courtesy Garden of the Sleeping Giant

Garden of the Sleeping Giant

This garden, which contains a collection of 30 to 40 varieties of Asian orchids and cattleya hybrids, is not just for horticulture enthusiasts. It’s a combined commercial nursery and fantasy garden at the foot of the Sabeto Mountains, in the shadow of the ridge known as the ‘Sleeping Giant’. Once the garden was the private collection of the former US actor Raymond Burr (best known for his role as Perry Mason) .

The highlight of the garden tour however, is not just the orchids. Of equal interest is a meandering stroll on a canopy-covered boardwalk through gorgeous landscaped grounds, across lily ponds up to the edge of a densely vegetated jungle. The turn-off to the garden is about five km from Nadi Airport, on your right as you head towards Lautoka. Take this side road for about two km. You could take a bus and hoof it from the main road, but it’s naturally easier if you have a rental car. Admission is charged.

Sabeto Mud Baths

A good time can be had in the mud bath. (courtesy Sonali)

Just a few kilometers inland from the Garden of the Sleeping Giant  (around 30-minutes from Nadi are 2 mud baths, essentially next door to each other.  The first mud pool is known as Sabeto and the other is Tifajek. Both have changing rooms with showers. (Towels can also be rented as well).

To utilize the therapeutic value of the mud pools, first coat yourself in mud then bake in the sun until it cakes on your skin. Wash off in the first natural hot spring pool then walk over to the next clear water pool for another cleansing. Both places offer inexpensive massage called “bobo” in Fijian.

Momi Guns

The Momi battery was constructed because it overlooked the Navua Passage which offered one of the few breaks in the reef where enemy ships could conceivably enter to attack Nadi Town, the nearby airfield and the port entry at Lautoka. Because of its proximity to the only deep water passage through the reef on the western side of Viti Levu, Momi Bay was also a likely point for an amphibious landing. The guns were also needed to keep enemy naval ships at bay in case they might  shell the coast road. Any reinforcements from Suva would be easy targets from offshore naval fire.

(courtesy Fiji National Trust)

Construction began on the 6-inch gun battery in late 1940 by soldiers from the Fiji Defense Force and The Fiji Public Works Department. New Zealand soldiers later arrived to train Fijian gunners. They were followed by personnel from the US Army who joined the troops. There were two gun emplacements at Momi. Each gun is 7 meters long, weights 7.5 tons and could fire a 45 kg projectile more than 14 kilometers.

The cannon were originally British Naval guns manufactured at the turn of the century and reputedly used in the Boer War and in the relief of Mafeking during WW I.  The guns were fired only in practice. The only occasion they were discharged for ‘protection’ was when a shot was fired off the bow of an unidentified ship which subsequently gave a sharp about turn and identified itself as a New Zealand vessel.

Fijian soldiers attending to the Momi Guns. (Courtesy National Trust)

Getting There & Away

The turn-off for this WW II battery is 24 km from the airport, and should be clearly marked. Follow the signs about 10 km along the dirt road (bearing to the right) to the Momi Guns site which is maintained by the Fiji National Trust. The road to the battery is part of the original Queens Rd. There is a small museum cleverly created inside an old bunker. The walls are filled with historic photos showing Fijian soldiers in WW II battle dress and others illustrating the restoration of the Momi Guns site from decrepitude to its full camouflaged glory.

As one might expect, the Momi Guns are placed on a hill and have a glorious view worthy of a picnic lunch. (Note that in the hills, cane land is beginning to be replaced by pine.)

Visitors can take a 10-15 minute walk around the park which consists of the gun batteries, the fire control building, armory room, command post, range-finder and the fortification ditch.

The park is open six days a week and admission is $F5. There are toilets, drinking water and plenty of parking space. 

 

Guns of Lomolomo

Lomolomo gun emplacement
Lomolomo gun emplacement (courtesy Ross Websdale)

Past Nadi Airport the rugged hills of the Sabeto Mountains end almost at the foot of Queens Rd. At this juncture (about 8-1/2 km from the airport) watch for a set of railway tracks and turn right onto the dirt road. There is a school building about 400 meters up the lane on the left. You have to go through private property to get to the gun site so be polite when doing so. It might be better taking the track to the left of the school rather than the one on the right, which will lead you to the base of the bluff and is a tougher climb to the top of hill.

Unlike the battery at Momi Bay, this site has not been taken over by the National Trust and thus has been left in the state in which it was abandoned after the war. The view from the top of the gun emplacement is outstanding. For those traveling by bus, the Lomolomo site is easier to reach than Momi Bay. Take a Lautoka or Viseisei bus from Nadi and ask the driver to let you off at the school.

Viseisei

Postcard of Viseisei Village
Viseisei Village, from a postcard

Around the bend from Lomolomo and on your left is Viseisei, 9-1/2 km from the airport. Legend has it that this village is the oldest settlement in the country. Fijians say their ancestors first came to Fiji in great ocean-going canoes and landed at nearby Vuda Point. Speed humps have Mamanuca recently been installed in the vicinity of the village to ensure that passing cars move very slowly. This came about after a villager was run over by a speeding vehicle. This also should remind motorists that they should take care when driving in Fiji – pedestrians are not as wary of cars as they should be and can put themselves in dangerous situations.

There is a crafts center at the Nadi side of the village. You can stop there and ask if someone can take you to see the centennial (1835-1935) monument marking the arrival of the missionaries. Opposite the monument is the bure of the chief or tui vuda. In the middle of the village is a large Methodist church with a monument commemorating the arrival of the missionaries. Usually a small tip to the person who has shown you around the village is proper. Incidentally, after having visited this village you’ll be in good company. Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Prince Charles have also visited Viseisei. The huge, brand-new looking bure to the left of the road belonged to Dr Timoci Bavadra, the late, deposed prime minister of Fiji.

Vuda Marina Nadi & Denarau Attractions
Photo Courtesy of Vuda Marina

Vuda Point

The turn-off to Vuda Point and the Anchorage Beach Resort is on the left near the top of the first steep hill along the Queens Rd. About three km down, you pass several large oil storage tanks and then the road becomes very sandy. The beach is a short walk away (through a cane field between two freshwater ponds). This is traditionally where the first Melanesians landed. There is not much to see, but the point is a popular picnic spot for families in the area. Vuda Point is about 12-1/2 km from Nadi Airport.

Mamanuca Island
Typical Mamanuca Island

One of the developments in the area of interest to sailors is the Vuda Point Marina (see above), which has a small chandlery, fuel dock, a coffee shop, Internet access and a grocery store. Food and drink can be had at the Vuda Yacht Club, whose thatched building is a leisurely spot to watch the boats pass through the marina entrance. To quote one happy yachite,

“Local hotels also offer “yachtie specials” for dinner; First Landing Resort is next door and you can also get a pass to use their swimming pool; the Anchorage will collect you and deliver you back to the marina free of charge.”
All of these spots offer great venues to enjoy the sunset while sipping cold Fiji Bitter. Pacific Marine Services carries out boat repairs and maintenance and provides security for unattended boats.

Visit the Mamanuca Islands

There are a myriad of day trips to the Mamanuca Group. You can either fly or take a boat. For day trips talk to Margaret Travel at the airport. She’ll listen to what you want and book you on a tour.Tel 721988/722558/921992/921988 or margarettrvl@connect.com.fj.

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