DESTINATIONS
MACAU: Magical Charm
AUSTRALIA, TA: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
USA, NM: Santa Fe – Downtown Retreat & Mountain Ranch Resort
PERU: Lake Sandoval, Amazonia: Mundos Intocados – Untouched Worlds.
AUSTRALIA, SA: Hopping Across to Kangaroo Island
USA, WY: The Legend of Buffalo Bill
AUSTRALIA, SA: Dishing It Out In South Australia
USA, NV: Top 10 Las Vegas Travel Tips
KIWI: Stewart Island's Natural Beauty
KIWI: Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track - Stairway to Heaven
KIWI: Sitting on the DOC of the Bay - A Campervan in the Coromandel
HONG KONG: Top Ten Must See Attractions
MACAU: A Macanese Affair to Remember
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 2
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 1
KIWI: Top 10 Kiwi Coastal Department of Conservation Campsites
KIWI: South by Southwest Auckland
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Campervan Adventures on the Great Tropical Drive
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Adventurous Atributes
KIWI: Top 10 Adventure Activities to Experience in Auckland
KIWI: The Gems and Jewels of the Tutukaka Coast
AUSTRALIA, NSW: A South Coast & Southern Highlands Tasting Seduction
USA, WY: Unadulterated Wilderness - Yellowstone National Park
KIWI: Island’s in the Gulf
USA, SD: Famous Faces in Great Places
USA, MT: Montana’s Forgotten Ghost Towns
UAE: Abu Dhabi - More Than A Flight of Fancy
WESTERN SAMOA: In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stephenson
TONGA: Vava’u Island Group
KIWI: Unpack, Inhale and Unwind – Breathing Easy on Auckland’s West Coast
KIWI: Waiheke Island – Paradise Found
USA, ID: Sun Valley Lodge, Ketchum
USA, ID: A Big City with a Small Town Heart
SOUTH KOREA: Temple Tourism Where Silence is Golden
AUSTRALIA, TAS: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
AUSTRALIA, TAS: A Taste and a Tipple in Tassie
KIWI: Conjuring Up Some Matakana Magic
USA, CA: Jamaica Bay Inn, Marina Del Rey
NEPAL: Kartwheeling in Kathmandu
KIWI: Going With The Flow - A Day on the Dart River
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 2.
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 1.
SINGAPORE: Capella Hotel, Sensosa Island
USA, HI: Hairpin Highway to Hana and Beyond
KIWI: Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown
ENGLAND: Haunted by Heathcliff - Yorkshire's Bronte Country
USA, CA: Handlery Union Square Hotel, San Francisco
KIWI: This Restless Land – Hiking the Tongariro Crossing & Mt. Ruapehu
KIWI: On My Bike - Mountain Biking and the Queenstown Bike Festival
ENGLAND: Mark it in Your Calendar – Visit Skipton, Yorkshire
SCOTLAND: A Scottish Highland Fling
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: Wrestling Wrasse on the Beara Peninsula
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: 48 Hours in Cork
ENGLAND: The Land of Romans, Myths and Medieval Castles
SCOTLAND: 48 Hours in Edinburgh
WALES: Wandering North Wales
USA, CA: In Yountville Pushing the Epicurean Envelope
ENGLAND: On The Trail of Lancashire’s Pendle Witches
THAILAND: Sky High in Bustling Bangkok
TAHITI: Lazy Hazy Days of Winter - Tahitii and Moorea
AUSTRALIA, QLD: In Seventh Heaven
VENEZUELA: Where Angels Dared To Tread
NORFOLK ISLAND: Isle of Exiles
NEW CALEDONIA: Flavours of New Caledonia
KIWI: The Wonder Country - Campervan Ventures in Southland
MALAYSIA, Sabah Borneo: In The Land of the Red Ape
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Taste of the Tropics

FIJI: Cavorting on the Coral Coast

The Coral Coast lies about an hour’s drive southwest of Nadi along the Queen’s Road on the main island of Viti Levu where the coastline is a combination of mangrove forests, rocky outcrops, some huge sand dunes, inland bays and sandy beaches fringed by shallow, well protected lagoons making it an ideal location for snorkeling and diving.

AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2012

 

Children the world over are very much alike. They all play hide and seek, sometimes torment smaller kids, they inevitably get dirty, get into mischief and generally do stuff that their parents aren’t aware of. Fijian children in the outlying villages are no different except they have a way of smiling and holding up their fingers in a welcoming gesture to visitors that you don’t often see . . . a sort of ‘V for Victory’ sign but in reverse accompanied by a huge smile – is it any wonder Fiji is known as the friendly isles.

 

On my previous visit I’d stayed in the well-known enclave known as Denarau and never left the resort area except to go fishing as I was there to attend a wedding. However what lies beyond the Denarau security fences and the side-by-side big name hotels is a sight worth going back to Fiji for . . . the stunning Coral Coast.

 

The Coral Coast lies about an hour’s drive southwest of Nadi along the Queen’s Road on the main island of Viti Levu where the coastline is a combination of mangrove forests, rocky outcrops, some huge sand dunes, inland bays and sandy beaches fringed by shallow, well protected lagoons making it an ideal location for snorkeling and diving.

 

On our first day we opted for a local adventure that is fast becoming the best way to experience Fiji’s rich natural beauty and traditional culture. In the nearest town, Sigatoka we made preparations for a jet boat ride into the upper regions of the Sigatoka River. The Sigatoka River Safari is an award winning tour operator with purpose built, New Zealand made jet boats.

 

Our guide was Captain Hijack (Lepani) whose cheeky chatter and informative knowledge made everyone laugh and listen, especially when tales of cannibals and culture are thrown into the conversation.

 

The highlight of the four hour round trip is to be invited into Mavua Village, one of 15 villages (that are rotated in and out of the tour schedule on a daily and seasonal basis. This practice ensures that mass tourism doesn’t alter the traditional lifestyle of the village but in fact enhances their prosperity – a percentage of your tour price goes directly to each village). After a guided tour by a village elder we were escorted into a Chiefly House or communal hall to present an offering of Yagona (kava). Then the kava making ritual is followed by a traditional kava making and drinking ceremony, followed by more drinking, singing, a traditional Fijian lunch and then some Fijian dancing! One member of our group Patrick commented, “this is better than a Fijian disco.”

 

On our second day, after a wonderful beachside breakfast at the Beachcomber on the Lagoon Resort our group made the short drive to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park headquarters for our two hour guided hike. This easy to follow trail starts and ends below a lush forest canopy with the jewel in the crown being the huge, wind swept sand dunes above a deserted stretch of beach that looked like some long-lost elephant graveyard as it was covered in driftwood logs from the relentlessly pounding surf.

 

In a country blessed with an abundance of scenic beauty, the Sigatoka Sand Dunes stand out as one of the more unique wonders of Fiji. In 1989, the dunes were designated as Fiji’s first National Park under the management of the National Trust of Fiji Islands. This distinct feature covers an area of 650 hectares and offers a rich combination of geomorphological, ecological, cultural and aesthetical attributes.

 

The dunes contain a diverse mixture of endemic and introduced plant species. The National Park also plays host to 22 species of bird, eight of which are endemic to Fiji, including the Fiji bush warbler, Fiji goshawk, orange-breasted mycenaean, skinks, lizards, geckos as well as fruit bats that find refuge in the park's diverse habitats.

 

The Sigatoka Sand Dunes are also famous for their rich archaeological history. The first significant clues to man's arrival in Fiji were discovered at the park in the late 1980's when a team of archaeologists uncovered an ancient burial site. To date over 50 individuals have been excavated and their arrival has been dated to approximately 2600 years ago. Scatters of pottery shards, human remains, and stone tools found within the dunes have led experts to believe that these early inhabitants are of Lapita (named after a similar archeological site in New Caledonia) origin. Many of the unearthed artifacts are on display at the Fiji Museum in Suva.

Just a short 10-minute leisurely walk or a quick buggy ride across the road from the Outrigger Resort is the Kula Eco Park. This is Fiji’s only wildlife park and facility for the breeding of endangered species. This is a wonderful family friendly place to visit with everything from falcons and fruit bats, native parakeets, iguanas, snakes, birds and other creatures including turtles . . . in fact it’s a microcosm of Fiji’s natural wildlife. Set in a verdant valley there are raised boardwalks so you get the feeling you’re walking in a real jungle environment. The park also gives you an opportunity to hold a baby boa constrictor or if you’re afraid of snakes, a Fijian crested iguana. Discovered in 1979, it’s the rarest iguana in the world as there is said to be only 20 left in the wild.

 

Visiting Fiji in the drier winter months of May to November is the best time to enjoy consistently fine, warm days. In the wetter winter months of December to April, the humidity is higher and then the nights and days are warmer. If you enjoy your rugby then visiting the ‘friendly isles’ in mid-November is good way to take in the Coral Coast Rugby Sevens Tournament. This is fast becoming a talking point on the seven’s circuit and in 2012, attracted 24 men’s teams and eight women’s teams.

 

 

No matter what time of year you visit, the Coral Coast is one place that should be on everyone’s list of preferred destinations in Fiji.

 

 

 

Facts: 

 

Outrigger on the Lagoon

This 5-Star hotel on the Coral Coast is designed in a style of a traditional Fijian village. The resort boats 207 air-conditioned deluxe rooms and 47 air-conditioned bures set on 16 hectares. Resort facilities include four restaurants and bar options, a large tropical swimming pool, plus private beach and spa. All Deluxe Ocean View rooms, suites or bures receive a VIP Talai Butler Service.

T: 679 650 0044

W: www.outriggerfiji.com

 

Sigatoka River Safari

Is a four-hour round trip including visiting a traditional Fijian Village, cultural commentary and a few 360-degree jet boat spins.

T: 0800 6501 721

W: www.sigatokariver.com

 

Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park

This is a two hour guided or self-guided hiking trip

T: 679 3314593 / 3301807

W: www.nationaltrust.org.fj/sigatoka_sanddunes.html

 

Kula Eco Park

Located across the road from the Outrigger on the Lagoon, there is a fee of just $26 Fijian dollars for adults and $13 for children (under 11 years)

T: 679 6500 505

W: www.fijiwild.com

 

Bebe Spa Sanctuary (Fijian for butterfly)

Located at the Outrigger on the Lagoon, Bebe Spa offers seven world-class treatment rooms and a beauty centre.

T: 679 650 0044

 

W: www.bebespafiji.com

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