Popular Nadi Shore Excursions
With its large Indian population, Nadi is a religious center for Muslims and Hindus. The city's major Hindu place of worship and most recognizable landmark is Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple. Decorated by artists from India, the colorful South Indian Dravidian-style temple features a statue of Lord Murugan, deity of the seasonal rains. Visitors are welcome to admire the frescoes and carvings, but are asked to remove their shoes and not take pictures (5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., $3.50).
For his private garden, actor Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) chose the foothills of the Sabeto or Sleeping Giant Mountain Range some 10 minutes north of the airport. Today, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant has blossomed with native plants and several dozen varieties of Asian orchids and cattleya hybrids. Walking trails meander through forested hillsides, streams and ponds with water lilies (672-2701, Wailoko Road, $12 adult, $6 child, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday).
In nearby Korotogo, animal lovers will enjoy Kula Ecopark. Supported by the National Trust for Fiji and other conservation groups, this wildlife sanctuary is home to a number of species like hawksbill sea turtles, Kadavu parrots, rapors, owls and fruit bats. The park is also a breeding facility for endangered species like the Pacific black duck and crested iguana (650-0505, $10 adult, $5 child, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
One of Viti Levu's best public beaches, Natadola Beach offers soft white sand and gorgeous blue water. Bring your own picnic fare and snorkel gear, but watch for currents that can create a strong undertow (28 miles south of the airport, take the Maro Road turnoff along Queens Road, just past the police post).
For an intimate half-day snorkeling, fishing and sailing, Valentino of Valentino Sailing Safari Ltd. takes up to 10 guests to "where the wind is best" on a 37-ft. catamaran, Moana Uli Uli (from Port Denarau Marina, half-day day $480; three-hour sunset sail $415; 679-675-0611). The historic tall ship Ra Marama sails to Tivua Island, with a kava ceremony, canoeing, beach volleyball and barbecue (from Port Denarau Marina, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; $62 adults, $31 child; snorkel gear included).