Nadi and Denarau Island
If your plans call for an overnight stay in Fiji on your way to Australia or New Zealand or you have a longer layover, there are a number of choice accommodations near Nadi airport or in the trendy Denarau area.In the immediate Nadi airport area are the Mercure, Novotel, Tanoa International and Raffles Gateway hotels.
Nadi town, about 15 minutes south from the airport, is the gateway to the island. It provides a melange of tourist oriented stores and restaurants along the winding main street. But one should explore beyond the tourist venues into the side streets and the small, but colorful market.
If you’ll be in the area for a few days, it’s a good place to have clothes made at one the Indo-Fijian tailoring shops. A few restaurants that locals dine at are Tata’s (Indian), Nadi Farmer’s Club (local dishes and curries) and Mama’s Pizza Kitchen. Looming over the far end of town is the colorful Swami Temple, the largest example of Madrasi style architecture in the Southern Hemisphere. One can tour the Temple but modest dress is required.
Just a few miles from town at the shores of Nadi Bay lies Denarau Island. This huge man-made island is the tourist focal point in west Viti Levu. The development contains luxury hotels, the Denarau Golf and Raquet Club and Port Denarau.
An alternative to the airport area or if you want a base on the west to explore the Mamanuca Islands, then Denarau is where you’ll want to be. Pacific Islands can arrange your accommodations at such upmarket resorts as Starwood Properties (The Westin, Sheraton or Sheraton Villas), The Sofitel Fiji and Radisson Blu Fiji. These name brand hotels have multiple dining choices, swimming pools, meeting and catering facilities and even a seaside wedding chapel. The 18-hole golf course is the home to many international tournaments, while the tennis club’s composite courts can be played both during the day and at night.
Linking the resorts is the Bula Bus, which also goes to the nearby Port Denarau complex. Port Denarau has been built up with many fine restaurants and entertainment venues for an evening out (Cardo’s Steak House, Indigo and a branch of the Hard Rock Café) along with a plethora of shops.
Denarau is primarily home port to one of Fiji’s principal small ship cruise lines – Captain Cook Cruises; also South Seas Cruises (jet catamaran ferry service to the Mamanuca Islands); day cruises, private transfer launches to the island resorts and for sleek yacht and sailboat charters.
About 15 minutes north of the airport is one of the hidden gems of Fiji – the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Started by the late actor Raymond Burr, the Garden is home to hundreds of orchids in their natural habitat. A highly recommended stop, a leisurely walk-through will take about an hour. PacificIslands can arrange a tour to the Garden and the adjacent chiefly village of Viseisei.
Just north is Lautoka, Fiji’s second largest city. Since it is not dependent on tourism, there is a more relaxed pace to the city. It is the home port of Blue Lagoon Cruises, Fiji’s other principal small ship cruise company to the Yasawa Islands.
Lautoka is also the sugar center of Viti Levu with the huge mill as the focal point. If you’re in Fiji from June to November, the area is rife with small gauge trains and trucks piled high with sugar cane coming to market. We can arrange a tour up the slopes of the Mt. Evans range to Abaca (pronounced Am-ba-tha) Village. From here you can get a panoramic view over the Mamanuca and lower Yasawa Islands and do a scenic day hike.