Viti Levu

and Nadi

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Fiji may be the nexus of the south Pacific, with Viti Levu being one of the largest islands and relatively centrally located to other south Pacific nations such as Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. It is a popular destination for Australians and New Zealanders, and also round-the-world backpackers that can be found on the beaches of the Mamanucas.

I travelled to Fiji on a combined trip with Samoa, during the time that I lived in Alaska. Despite the distance, it was relatively easy to make the journey, with only two flights from Anchorage to Samoa, stopping in Hawaii, and two flights back from Fiji, with a stop in Los Angeles. I rented a car to explore Viti Levu one day, and took a cruise around the Mamanucas for the other.

Beach at the Viti Levu Intercontinental

Natadola Beach is perhaps Viti Levu's finest, seen here at the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort. Unfortunately I was unable to access this hotel directly, as security wouldn't let me in for lunch. I dined instead at the neighbouring Yatule Resort, which was much more welcoming.

Nadi city hosts the main airport in Fiji, as opposed to the capital Suva which is on the other side of Viti Levu. Nadi itself didn't seem particularly attractive, but there were glimpses of interesting sights such as this, the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple.

Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

Shopping in Nadi

Shopping in Nadi, and the Indian influence is strongly apparent - the only other place I've seen quality spelling such as this. Around half of Fiji's population are of Indian descent.

With such a high Indian population, it's no surprise that such temples are dotted around the island. Perhaps more importantly for me though, was the even more prolific distribution of curry houses.

Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

Fijian rolling hills

The rolling hills of Fiji, only a little way back from the coast the landscape was somewhat more arid, and not the tropical jungle I'd been expecting.

Momi Battery remains to this day an unused gun station, facing the estimated approach that the Japanese would take if they'd attempted an invasion of Fiji. The guns point towards the Solomon Islands, but the agressors never came.

Momi battery

Botanic gardens

Up the coast from Nadi is the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, a beautifully landscaped botanic garden park in the shadow of the eponymous mountain.

Flowers and lily pads in the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The gardens are particularly noted for their orchids.

Botanic gardens

Fijian mosque

I spotted several mosques around Viti Levu, with an interesting style that I'd not seen before, quite different from those of the Gulf or North Africa.

The Fiji International golf tournament was first held only one year before my visit, at the Natadola Bay Golf Course, itself designed by Fiji's top golfer, Vijay Singh.

Natadola Bay Golf Course

Fiji sugar train

Before tourism took hold in Fiji, the sugar cane industry was one of the economic mainstays, with a narrow-gauge rail network built around half of Viti Levu to transport the goods. Parts of the Coral Coast Railway remain, with trips still running on the decaying trains.

Inside one of the passenger carriages the dilapidated condition of the rolling stock is fully apparent - hopefully one day soon the system will be restored to its former glory.

Inside the sugar train

Crossing the south Pacific

Fortunately my air transport was more reliable, it was about a three hour flight between Samoa and Fiji as I chugged my way into the sunset across the south Pacific.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2018