All sorts of fabulous adventures await almost as soon as you step off the plane in Nadi. Since almost all visitors arrive here, via Fiji’s largest airport, why not drop the bags and start your island adventure straight away? Atmospheric local restaurants, easy access to Viti Levu’s key attractions, and a spread of luxury resorts mean there’s an abundance of activities and experiences to fill at least the first two days of a perfect vacation.
If you’re staying at one of the large resorts on Denarau Island, melt away your travel fatigue at your hotel: grab breakfast, take a dip in the pool or head to the spa.
The marina here acts as a springboard to the spectacular Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands. Arguably Fiji’s most divine drawcards, these 50-odd islands attract tons of romantics, resort-hoppers and roving families for their sugar-soft sands, eye-poppingly blue waters and enchanting escapism. Day-trip to one of the nearby islands such as Malamala Island, Tivua Island, or kid-friendly South Sea Island.
The Cloud 9 floating platform – a 45-minute speedboat transfer from the mainland – is a stylish spot for sunbathing, cocktail sipping, swimming and taking in views of the magnificent Mamanucas.
Ready for lunch? There are plenty of satisfying options in the nicely compact Nadi Town, including local favorite Tata’s. After sweating over some delicious Indo-Fijian curry, stretch those legs and spend the afternoon exploring on foot.
A short walk from Tata’s brings you to the riotously bright Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple, where you’re in for another sensory wake-up. This Hindu temple is one of the few places outside India where you can see traditional Dravidian architecture. Admire its multi-colored paintwork, ceiling frescos and wooden carvings of deities.
Next head to the handicraft market, where you’ll find everything from traditional kava bowls to bright fabrics, carved wooden boxes, masks and colorful bags. It’s your best bet for locally produced souvenirs, and the friendly stallholders are often in the mood for an interesting chat.
For dinner, head back to Port Denarau and treat yourself to a Fijian sunset looking west over the Mamanucas. Cardo's Steakhouse, Lulu’s and Rhum-Ba are all good options for a meal with a view.
Use this day to explore Viti Levu. Scores of operators offer half-day tours of local attractions, with popular destinations including the Garden of the Sleeping Giant (a lush plantation ablaze with more than 2000 orchid varieties), Sabeto Hot Springs (an outdoor natural thermal mud spa: bring your swimsuit) and Viseisei village (the country’s oldest settlement and locally famous as the landing site of the first Fijians).
If it’s real action you’re after, head to the Coral Coast, a 50-mile swathe skirting Viti Levu’s southwest. The region starts about an hour’s drive from Nadi and is renowned as a thrillseekers’ hotspot. Surfing and snorkeling are popular draws, as is a slippery stagger up the Sigatoka Sand Dunes, Fiji’s first national park and home to ancient dunes up to 190ft high. Despite its name, many of the Coral Coast’s best attractions lie not on the shoreline but in its lush interior, dubbed ‘Fiji’s salad bowl’: take a jetboat ride up the Sigatoka River, or hit Kula WILD Adventure Park for wildlife encounters and zipline thrills.
For those who prefer to spend the day in Denarau, sign up for an afternoon cooking class with Flavours of Fiji. This school holds a three-hour kaiviti magiti (local feast) course (11am-2pm), teaching guests how to create Fijian and Indian dishes, as well as tropical desserts. Kids eight years and older are welcome to join.
Whether you’ve tempted your taste buds with a cooking class or need some serious sustenance after a day of adventure, it’s time to round off a superb 48 hours in Nadi with dinner. Eco Café on Queen’s Road does a mean wood-fired pizza, or you could try fresh seafood prepared Fijian-style at Tu’s Place next door.
If you still have some energy left, while away the last hours of the night at nearby Ed’s Bar, one of Nadi’s best drinking spots; or visit the atmospheric beer garden at New Nadi Farmer's Club, where most evenings there’s fire dancing and live music for entertainment.
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