Food and Drink in Nadi
Fijians typically eat a big lunch, and Nadi is a great place to try Chinese, Fijian and Indian cuisine. Local dishes to sample include kokoda, a ceviche of raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut cream, and an Indian curry with rice and dhal, a lentil soup. Though there are lots of restaurants on Denarau Island, downtown Nadi offers more authentic eateries clustered on and right off Main Street.
Local Eats: LC's is a local favorite for Chinese food (Hillsdale Road, Namaka, Monday to Saturday, 672-8181). Tata's is legendary for its inexpensive, spicy curry (Nadi Back Road between the Siva Temple and Hotel San Bruno, Monday to Friday, 670-0520). Hot Bread Kitchen's two locations offer sausage rolls, pies and freshly baked bread (Main Street and Colonial Plaza, Namaka).
Gourmet Options: According to legend, the first Fijians arrived at First Landing between Nadi and Lautoka about 1500 B.C. Today, the outdoor beachfront restaurant at the First Landing Resort serves views of the Mamanacas along with seafood specialties like kokoda, grilled mahi mahi, Lobster Louie and garlic prawns (666-6171). Chef's is widely considered one of Nadi's restaurants, serving exotic entrees like roasted ducking ravioli, curries and Afghan chicken (end of Sagayam Road just off Main Street, Monday to Saturday, 670-3131).
Restaurants Close to Main Attractions: Patrons at Saffron Restaurant can enjoy their tandoori mild, medium or hot. The large menu includes dishes like Peshawari Kadai chicken, Afghani sizzling lamb and lobster curry flavored with coconut and kalongi (Sagayam Road off Main Street, 670-1233). At Daikoku Japanese Restaurant, chefs cook teppanyaki dishes at your table (Main Street, Tuesday to Sunday, 670-3622).
Don't Miss in Nadi
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).