Fiji’s third-largest city and the site of its international airport makes Nadi a great place to get a taste of Fiji’s culture (and its plethora of tacky souvenirs) before hitting the beach resorts. Located on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu, the Nausori Highlands loom to the north, with the Nadi River and Viseisei Village in the west.
Head to downtown Nadi to mooch around in the busy and exceedingly dusty commercial district, where Indians, Fijians and a plethora of tourists all eat, shop and mingle. The city’s economy may revolve around sugar cane and tourism rather than stunning beaches, but why be in such a hurry to leave a land famous for saccharine treats and frivolous entertainment? Many visitors can’t wait to get out of Nadi, but stay a while and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.
Nadi’s Top 10
10. Garden of the Sleeping Giant Its name refers to the bordering mountains, but the plants and waterfalls here hold their own.
5. Coral Coast Scenic Railway More than just another child pleaser, this is a great way to appreciate the landscape.
9. Kula Eco Park If a close encounter with the local fauna and flora doesn’t float your boat, try holding lizards and feeding baby sea turtles.
4. Nananu-i-ra A quiet spot offering calm swimming and snorkelling. Great for the kids.
8. Sigatoka Half-Day Shopping Tour Duty-free shopping is the drawcard, but the local pottery is the real treat.
3. Jacks Handicrafts Clothing, jewellery and bric-a-brac for the undiscerning shopper. Mainly mass-produced, average-quality items… and lots of them.
7. Fiji Museum A truly encompassing cultural and historical experience. If you’re interested in cannibalism (and who isn’t?!), the gristly utensils on show are for you.
2. Navua River Village and Kava Ceremony Tour Take a boat ride through gorges, waterfalls and a big dirty river. Swim (in the clean parts) and enjoy a tropical Fijian lunch with locals.
6. Mount Batilamu Trek An easy day trip (the base at least), this trek explores both the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park and the village of Abaca.
1. Sri Siva Subramaniya The largest and most cheerfully decorated Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere has recently had a Dravidian facelift.
- Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple – The largest Hindu temple in the Pacific.
- Momi Battery Historical Park – Naval guns and concrete bunkers from World War II.
- Tavuni Hill Fort – Fortification from the Fiji Wars in the 1800s.
- Vuda Historical Site – A 20-minute drive north from the airport, this contains remains of the first Fijian village.
- Guns of Lomolomo – Beautiful views of the surrounding area from the top of the fort.
Nadi Art & Culture
- Garden of the Sleeping Giant – A 50-acre orchid range at the base of the Sleeping Giant Mountain.
- Viseisei Village – Supposedly the first settlement in Fiji, it is a prosperous Fijian village.
- Navala Village – Picturesque village that still retains the bures that are largely gone from other villages.
- Nadi Town – Walk through the many vendors selling sugar cane and other items.
- Lautoka – Known as Sugar City due to the presence of the largest sugar mill in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Nadi Market – Mainly consists of vendors selling fresh produce.
- Jack’s of Fiji – The best-stocked and largest outlet for handicrafts, clothing, T-shirts and other items.
- Nadi Handicraft Centre – Another outlet that specializes in black pearls and leathers goods.
- Nads – Another handicraft centre that offers a wide range of Fijian pottery, as well as woven mats, clothes and baskets.
- Port Denarau – Town that contains a range of boutiques and high-end handicrafts.
Gay & Lesbian Nadi
- Purple Haze Nightclub – Gay-friendly nightclub decorated with neon planets, inflatable aliens and wall murals.
- Signals Night Club – Gay-friendly nightclub that offers good dancing.
- Hamburg Bar – Not a strict gay bar but one that offers sports, music and billiard tables.
- Bounty Bar & Restaurant – Popular with expatriates and offers live music on the weekends.
- Cardo’s Upstairs – A sophisticated bar above the steakhouse and cocktail bar on Denarau Island.
- Wailoaloa Beach – A half-mile-long beach found to the north of town containing many resorts and clubs.
- Sabeto Hot Springs – Soak in the hot mud baths located in the Land of the Sleeping Giants.
- Sigatoka Sand dunes – Walk through the large sand dunes to the south of Nadi with evidence of ancient settlements and a beautiful coastline.
- Coral Coast – Enjoy the wealth of fish found along the coral reefs found just off shore along the Coral Coast.
- Nausori Highlands – Take some time to explore these beautiful grasslands to the north of Nadi.
- Hike to destinations such as Lovoni, the Peak and Lake Tagimaucia.
- Kayak around the island or go from island to island instead of flying.
- There are many scuba diving opportunities, with dive companies offering trips to some of the most beautiful scuba diving spots in the South Pacific.
- Enjoy a round of golf at the many courses surrounding the town.
- Play tennis or golf at the Denarau Racket Club or other resorts.
The Hindu Festival of Colours in February is when Hindus throughout Fiji squirt each other with coloured water. Enjoy from a distance.
July is the time to marvel at Nadi Bula Festival’s marching bands, traditional costume and dancing competition, and ogle at the pretty Miss Bula competitors.
Sabotage your diet in the name of tourism at September’s Sugar Festival, held in Lautoka, aka ‘Sugar City’.
You have to get up early to catch the Rising of the Balolo in October or November, when sea-worm delicacies rise to the surface to spawn. It’s worth it, though.
So you think you’re athletic? Skip Malolo Lai Lai Ocean Swim Festival’s 1.5km swim and hit up the 10km event in October.
When To Go
June to September is the dry season, bringing cool and comfortable tropical weather.
Not a fan of cyclones and high humidity? Avoid travelling between November and April, when it can rain for days.
July and August are the busiest months, so be prepared for crowds.
Nadi International Airport is 9km from town. Free local buses operate to Lautoka and Suva.
Be prepared to barter if you’re using a taxi. They can be cheap, but don’t use meters.
Bus travel is a convenient way to get around.
For most visitors who seek the sunny shores of Fiji, the small town of Nadi is the first impression they have of the South Pacific archipelago. The foremost gateway to proximate island resorts throughout the rest of Fiji, the town of 30,000 people is a major tourist hub.
Nadi is northwest of Viti Levu, the main island in Fiji and has the main International Airport in Fiji. As such, the town is a popular stopover for visitors who hail from Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. For those with paradisiacal vacation plans on the Mamanuca Islands, Nadi is a mandatory port of call. The town is a commercial hive of activity, with major chain hotels, resorts and fine beachfront property within the city limits.
Although Nadi is not rife with cultural attractions per se, recent growth in tourism has made it more hospitable to international travelers. The town, for one, is a centre of Islam and Hinduism in Fiji, with two mosques and the impressive Sri Siva Subramaniya temple.
Built in 1986 on the site of a previous temple, Sri Siva Subramaniya is the Hindu home of record south of the equator. The Dravidian design is a reflection of the strong Indo-Fijian heritage on the islands.
Waqadra Botanical Gardens has a superb collection of native plants and flowers.
The Garden of the Sleeping Giant is worth the ten minute drive from central Nadi. The fabulous orchid exhibit was once the personal stash of the late actor Raymond Burr, of Ironside and Perry Mason fame.
The Garden name derives from the mountain range that forms the backdrop of Nadi. From above, the chain bears a resemblance to a giant at rest. Tours of the picturesque area, known as Sabeto River Valley, are available. The landscape is spectacular and visits to native villages are possible, with the adherence of certain protocols of course. Other attractions in the area include banana, citrus fruit, cassawa and breadfruit plantations.
Other than pure island relaxation, events in and around Nadi involve recreation and ecotourism. The Sabeto River Valley is ground zero for exploration in the area, with ample opportunity to trek, hike and climb the wild, hilly environment. Most tours of the area require a guide and can be quite strenuous. The ultimate reward however, is the photogenic scenery.
A visit to a traditional village is a distinct option for visitors to Nadi. Nearby, yet still relatively remote settlements, offer a window into native life as it once was and in many regards, remains today. Certain customs, from ancient yaqona rituals to pottery production and native meals, may comprise the total village experience.
Cyclone and tropical storm season in Nadi, like Fiji in general, is between the months of November and April. The average minimum and maximum temperatures hover in the areas of 20°C and 32°C throughout the year.
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