Known as ‘where tradition, culture and nature meet’, Fiji’s Coral Coast radiates peace amidst blue ocean and emerald jungle. This stretch of coastline lies on the west of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu and extends from just south of Nadi, past Pacific Harbour, to the north of Suva, along Queen’s Road. The drive on the aptly named road is exceptionally beautiful, with verdant hills joining up to blue skies.
Far away from the hustle and bustle, the Coral Coast caters for all budgets and tastes, with accommodation options for high and low budgets, families, couples or friends looking for the convenience of large resorts or the seclusion of small, boutique properties.
Those who enjoy the facilities and amenities of large-scale resorts will find what they are looking for at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. Located right on the beach, next to the little town of Korotogo and favoured by both families and honeymooners, the Outrigger has 205 rooms and 47 bungalows, some absolutely beachfront. A great place for families, there is a huge kids pool, kids menu, kids club, nanny services and a full program of activities to keep the little ones amused.
Besides the children’s activities, the Outrigger also offers dozens of activities to keep adults well entertained. Aerobics, cultural village tours, diving lessons, guided reef walks, kayaking and snorkeling tours, the fun ‘watermelon cracking’, and many more. The Outrigger has four great restaurants; the Sundowner Bar and Grill, is as the name indicates, perfect for a sunset drink and meal by the beach. In the heart of the resort, is Vale Ni Kana, an impressive pavilion reminiscent of a traditional chiefly bure, with nightly themed buffets.
Those after fine dining, will find it at the Ivi Restaurant, the Outrigger’s award winning, adults only, fine dining restaurant. The Baravi Poolside Restaurant offers a variety of choices with an Asian flavor, right by the pool and at the Kalokalo Bar, you can enjoy tapas between meals and a drink any time.
Sitting atop a hill, the Outrigger’s award winning BEBE spa is stunning and a must try while you are there. The grand-design building offers a range of luxurious pampering treatments and features eight treatment rooms with private open-air balconies and sweeping views of the Coral Coast.
Right next door to the Outrigger is the ‘sunset strip’, a picturesque road that runs along the beach, so called for obvious reasons. Along this road, there is a range of small boutique hotels for those after that intimate experience.
One of them is the Bedarra Beach Inn, a 24-room well-appointed property with a pool, spa, and the very good Ocean Terrace Restaurant, overlooking the pool and lagoon. Serving tasty choices such as the traditional Kokoda, great Indian curries and many more at affordable prices, it is a great dining option. A few hundred metres along the road, is the Crow’s Nest Resort. With 34 villas, many of them self-contained, this is a good alternative for those looking for self-contained accommodation. It is currently undergoing renovations and further expansion, with a new restaurant, swimming pool and new luxury villas on the way.
There are plenty of things to do along this coast, besides enjoying cool swims in the pristine and calm water of the Pacific Ocean. The town of Sigatoka is the main town in this area and it is flanked by the mighty Sigatoka River. Sigatoka is a good place to spend a day visiting the local fruit and vegetable markets and strolling along the riverbank.
Those who would like to enjoy the river itself can’t miss The Sigatoka River Safari. Receiving Trip Advisor’s certificate of excellent for the last five consecutive years, the half-day adventure, aboard custom-built safari jet boats, will take you along the river, visiting Fijian villages along the way. The same company runs Off-Road Cave Safari, another amazing tour that will take you into the Fijian countryside and Fiji’s largest cave system, the Naihehe Cave.
Another natural wonder around this area is the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. Located at the mouth of the Sigatoka River, the dunes cover an area of 650 hectares and are the product of coastal erosion. Perched high, some reaching 60 metres tall, the sand dunes offer amazing views of the ocean below and a great diversity of flora and fauna, being home to, for example, 22 bird species. The site is also famous for its archeological wonders; there is a large burial ground with a rich Lapita history, and excavations have found pottery, artifacts and human remains dating to 2,600 years ago.
Yet another must–not-miss activity in nature is a visit to Kula Ecopark. The Park was rescued from receivership back in 1997 by its current owners, and they have been building and improving ever since. When they first acquired the Park, it was not so much a park as a derelict property, with few facilities and in a very bad state. ‘The birds were dying, everything was in terrible condition, we had to do something’, says Ramesh Chand, the Park’s director.
Nineteen years later, the work they have done in the 28 acre property is monumental, with over 1 km of boardwalks and huge aviaries and display areas. Taking a walk through acres of natural forest, including elevated boardwalks to explore the forest canopy, and walking over the suspended bridge, is a real treat for all the senses. On your walk, you will encounter huge walk-through aviaries showcasing many of Fiji’s birds, display enclosures showcasing a variety of reptiles and an aquarium displaying tropical fish, coral and other marine life.
The Park has four main goals; one of them is restoring populations of rare Fiji wildlife by acting as a breeding center. Currently, they are working on a rehabilitation and breeding program with the Monuriky Crested Iguana. With only a few left in the wild, the park started their program in 2010. Since then, they have breed 70 iguanas and 32 were successfully released back into the wild to Monuriki Island last year. Their program will continue to progressively release iguanas every year to help restore the population.
Another aim of the park is that of education and awareness of Fiji’s wild life. As part of this program, since 1998, the Park has been running its free, hands-on environmental workshops for Fiji’s school children. Since its inception, over 12,000 children have taken part in the workshops. During their day-visit to the park, children learn about protection and sustainability and to appreciate Fiji’s flora and fauna.
Kula Ecopark also aims to display Fiji’s wildlife in as near natural settings as possible and preserve the park’s natural environment and flora. Within its commercial operation, visitors can get to know and see many of Fiji’s birds such as five species of parrots, as well as different species of iguanas, snakes, and Fiji’s natural ecosystems.
The Park and its projects are mostly self-funded through gate fees and individual donations.
The Coral Coast continues south towards Suva, and as it winds its way through hills and valleys, past more spectacular accommodation options such as Tambua Sands Resort, Fiji Hideaway, and Navity Resort, pretty towns pop into view. One of then is the town of Korolevu, with its quaint police station and clinic. Between Korolevu and Komave, you will find the Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa.
Another giant of Fiji, the Warwick is a five-star 28 acre property with 246 rooms and suites, five restaurants, and all facilities that one could possibly need or want. Right on the beach, on a lovely bay, the best thing about the Warwick is that it does not feel like a big resort. A very elegant property, it definitely has that old mystique to it and a lot of class. The resort has been built around a huge central lobby with a wing either side. The main pool is conveniently located between the resort and the beach at the Nadi wing. Guests can have a game of pool volleyball or a drink at the pool bar while children splash and play in the kids’ pool. In the Suva wing, you will find the adults-only swimming pool. A very clever use of design to guarantee that children or not, everyone will have their very own space to just be. Gym, games room, tennis and squash courts, spa, and a huge lawn resting area with hammocks hanging between coconut palms, border the main buildings. The Warwick offers guests a great range of activities for both children and adults including kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling, glass bottom boat tours, diving, village tours and more.
The rooms at the Warwick are spacious and well equipped with all mod-cons and four room types to suit your needs and budget. It also has other very neat bonuses; guests staying in Deluxe Suites are provided with exclusive access to the Executive Warwick Lounge Bar with complimentary afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks. Their five restaurants will meet up expectations with dining options for all occasions. The Bula Brasserie serves full breakfast, a la carte lunch and sumptuous themed buffet dinners while Pappagallo restaurant, also with full ocean views, serves traditional Italian fare. For a bite by the pool, the Lagoon Bar and Grill has a tantalizing menu and if you are feeling like a taste of Asia, Sazanami Japanese Restaurant provides. Finally, the Wicked Walu restaurant is the place that you will want to visit more than once. Located on its own cute private island, Wicked Walu specializes in seafood grills and chargrilled steaks. A gorgeous spot, a traditional Pacific building with a sand floor, both the place and the food are stunning. For a drink before or after, the resort has different bars to hang out in style.
The Warwick is well-known for its conference facilities. With meeting facilities able to accommodate up to 500 guests, state of the art corporate amenities, and three meeting rooms and halls, whether a large or small conference, workshop, event or wedding, they can tailor to specific needs.
Past the Warwick Fiji, the road continues south, with many more places to stay and things to do along the way. There are several transportation options along this road; tourist buses, such as Coral Sun, run twice daily to and from Nadi and Suva and pick up from most resorts in between. Locally, the taxi prices can be negotiated, and there is a range of buses, with different schedules, from the one-dollar small local buses to express services. If you, like me, are a bit of an explorer, hiring a car, at least for a few days, will be a good investment as there is so much to do and see. Each part of this spectacular road along the Coral Coast has its own charm, places and people, like little worlds peacefully sprinkled along it. It is in fact, a whole universe waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.
The Warwick Fiji, +679 653 0555, email@example.com , www.warwickhotels.com.
The Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, +679 6500044 , firstname.lastname@example.org, www.outrigger.com.
The Crow’s Nest, +679 6500230, email@example.com.
Off-Road Cave Safari, +679 6501721, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.offroadfiji.com.
THE PACIFIC TRAVELLER