Food and Drink in Port Denarau
Like any country with a distinct ethnic community, Fiji boasts numerous indigenous dishes and food styles.
Food is international with an emphasis on seafood. You can often find authentic Fijian cuisine, which is usually fish, shellfish or meats cooked with local herbs, coconut milk and taro leaves, being cooked in a traditional earth oven, called a lovo.
Fijian Kokoda is a national delicacy. It is a type of ceviche dish made with raw tuna or snapper marinated in lime and coconut and often served in a coconut shell. If it's on the menu, order it -- it's delicious.
The traditional drink is kava, a tuber grown locally with its own unique 'medicinal' qualities that's also used in solemn yaqona ceremonies. The taste takes a bit of getting used to, but it grows on you! Be sure to try it. Indian cuisine has also become part of Fijian culture given that almost half of the population are of Indian descent. Superb curries can be found everywhere.
With sugar as a commercial crop in much of Fiji, rum is also produced. Since 1980, the Fiji Rum Co. has distilled the spirit at its plant in Lautoka using hand-cut cane in a pot-still process. The company is now winning medals for its flavoured rums and staple Bounty brand. Note is a tasting and sales shop in the golf club.
There are at least a dozen food outlets either at the marina complex itself or a short walk along the roadway. There are more at each of the nine resorts on the island. Here is a small selection.
Bone Fish: This popular restaurant offers lunch and dinner on the water's edge at the marina. The restaurant specialises in seafood, and starters include the scallop and prawn mousse ravioli in gazpacho broth; for non-seafoodies, you'll find stuffed mushrooms with feta and herbs sauteed in thyme butter. Main dishes are big and always feature a pan-fried fish of the day on a bed of crushed potatoes with local snake beans and toasted cashew nut and coriander tapenade. There is also the option of the seafood platter for two comprising lobster, crab, marlin steak, spiced tuna, prawn lollipops and tempura fish. They also have fancy pina colada prawn shots. (Shop R5, Port Denarau Marina; 679 6750032; open daily 10 am to 10 pm)
Nadina Authentic Fijian Restaurant: This is a little eatery that gets big reviews. Billed as an authentic Fijian restaurant, the venue emphasises seafood, herbs, spices and local vegetables. Start with a kokoda or a prawn and duruka (a large type of asparagus) soup, before trying the mud crab with a coconut curry sauce. Look out for the coral trout; it's a sweet fish. (Shop R1 and R2; 679 675 0290; open daily for lunch and dinner)
Beaches in Port Denarau
Port Denarau itself is not a 'beach' destination, although there is a small strip of grey imported sand in front of the resorts. You'll need to venture a bit farther out to the islands to find the best beaches.
Best for a Day Visit: Tivua Island is Captain Cook Cruises' exclusive atoll surrounded by a circle of white sandy beach and 202 hectares of coral gardens. Enjoy a day on a true tropical island with a wide range of activities to choose from including snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding and glass-bottom boat tours, music and entertainment .
Famous Beach: Monuriki Island is the location made famous in the Tom Hanks' film, Castaway. Take a day cruise to the island and relive the Hollywood movie magic for yourself.
Best Mainland Beach: Natadola Beach is widely hailed as one of Fiji's best beaches and features pure white powdery sand, shady trees and horse riding. It's about an hour by road south of Nadi toward Sigatoka. Day tours with other attractions along the way are available from Denarau.
Don't Miss in Port Denarau
The Garden of the Sleeping Giant: This local attraction is located beneath the Sabeto mountain feature of the same name and is about a 10-minute drive northeast of Nadi Town. Created in 1977 as the private garden for the late American actor Raymond Burr (of Perry Mason and Ironside fame), it is filled with fabulous plants and more than 2,000 varieties of orchids. A guide is available to accompany visitors at no extra charge. The garden is set on 40 acres (16 hectares) and takes between 90 minutes and two hours to explore on the formed pathways. (Wailoko Raod, Nadi; 679 672 2701; open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5pm; closes noon Sunday)
Sigatoka River Safari: This jetboat ride skims over the river at speed and executes 360-degree airborne spins. A Sigatoka River Safari tour includes a village visit, kava ceremony and lunch and is the perfect day tour for those who want to get off the beaten track. It operates every day with early pickups from hotels and Denarau resorts for the one-hour drive to Sigatoka Town through wild rural scenery. Board a sleek jetboat at the river for a fun and hair-raising ride past farmers, fishermen and wonderful mountain scenery. At the traditional village, visitors don their complimentary 'sulu' (sarong) to wear for a guided tour, kava ceremony, concert and lunch -- followed by dancing. (Tappoos Sigatoka Store, Main Street, Sigatoka; 679 650 1721; open daily for two half-day tours)
Captain Cook Cruises (Fiji): This is one of several operators offering day cruises from the Port Denarau Marina. For example, their beautiful tall ship Ra Marama and its sailing catamaran Fiji One offer daily trips to nearby Tivua Island in the Mamanuca group. The day includes snorkelling and glass-bottom boat rides, a tropical buffet lunch, morning and afternoon teas, beer/wine/soft drinks on the island and a kava ceremony. Passengers can play volleyball, use kayaks, snorkel or laze on the sand and listen to a Fijian band. (Denarau Marina; 67 9 670 1823; open daily, 8 am to 5 pm)
Spa Denarau: This is one of the two day spas operating from Port Denarau. Spa Denarau uses the acclaimed, locally produced Pure Fiji products. Enjoy massages and wraps, body exfoliation, facials, and a luxurious pedicure and manicure. (Unit 10, Ground Floor, Port Denarau Retail; 679 675 0312; open daily, 9 am to 7 pm)
Sri Subramaniya Swami Temple: This is Nadi's Hindu temple, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, and it offers a departure from the usual island, beach and adventure activities. You can't miss the colourful landmark on Nadi's main road: an hour spent here is a very peaceful experience. The complex has a great vegetarian eatery. (Queens Rd; 679 670 09; open daily, from dawn to dusk)
The list of activities available from Port Denarau is extensive but, apart from booking tours out to the region, you can do so much right in position: think scuba diving, golf, skydiving, fishing charters and helicopter sightseeing.