Updated: Jan 18, 2020
You don't have to go far to find the real Fiji. Here are three 'off the beaten track' alternatives for you to consider.
1. Levuka, Ovalau.
Levuka is a quirky little historic World Heritage listed town on the island of Ovalau about 35km off the eastern coast of Viti Levu. There are two main ways to access to Levuka - plane or ferry. Flights from Nadi (about 30min) or Suva (about 12min) or ferry from Suva which takes about 3 hours and is an adventure in itself. Both options take you to the Western side of Ovalau for a picturesque taxi ride to Levuka which is on the Eastern side.
Levuka is known as Fiji's first capital and there is all sorts of interesting places to visit. The Royal Hotel is the oldest hotel in the Southern Hemisphere and evokes feelings of Colonial Life (it's said to be haunted). Other interesting activities include a visit to the historic cemetery, the ferry that was washed ashore during Cyclone Winston, climb the hill for vistas from the old horse racing track or take a walking tour to the middle of the island to hear about 'magic herbs and plants' and see where many consider the best kava is grown.
Take time to talk to Levuka's residents who seem more than happy to share their perspectives on Levuka's history.
2. Namosi Eco Retreat
The Namosi Eco Retreat is only a short drive from Suva. This is a basic locally run retreat with loads of character in a spectacular valley. The drive to Namosi is a beautiful experience with lush tropical valleys, rugged limestone mountains and picturesque waterfalls. The retreat is across a shallow river from the village of Navunikabi and the adventure begins as soon as you reach the village with the short crossing of the river by foot. There are heaps of activities - raft building and volleyball with the villagers were my favourites. A special highlight is helping to prepare the lovo - a delicious traditional Fijian feast of meats and vegetable dishes cooked in the ground. The food is grown locally and prepared on a rotation basis by village families - the economic benefits of the Retreat are shared in the village. Evening activities include kava ceremony, singing and dancing with the villagers.
“The food is grown locally and prepared on a rotation basis by village families - the economic benefits of the Retreat are shared in the village.”
The quiet pace of Namosi leaves time to explore and connect with the genuine village hospitality - I left Namosi with warm affection and a deeper connection and understanding of Fijians.
3. Yacht to Kadavu Island Group
We enjoyed a four day yacht trip to Kadavu which is about 5 hours south of Suva. This is definitely off the tourist trail and it's amazing!! We swam with whales, turtles, dolphins and the highlight was swimming with manta rays. The yacht sleeps six but four would be more comfortable. We stopped in postcard style harbours in uninhabited islands - swam, lazed on the beach, cracked our own coconuts and explored the islands. Our captain was very familiar with these waters and took us to secret locations such as the manta ray cleaning station. We took it in turns to cook the food we had prepared supplemented by fish caught by the captain as we enjoyed some of the best snorkelling I have ever experienced.
There's so much more to Fiji than Nadi, Denarau and the Yasawas and it's easily accessible. We'd love to design a trip for you to discover the Real Fiji. Check us out at https://www.thecustompath.com.