Unlike its celebrated counterpart in the US state of Arizona, Fiji’s “Grand Canyon” – Viti Levu’s waterfall-fed, rapids-rich Upper Navua River – carves a deep, volcanic rock-walled pathway through nearly 30km of pristine rainforest that’s alive with wildlife and utterly breathtaking in appearance before emptying into the ocean. Needless to say, a trip along this stunning river gorge is a whitewater-rafting enthusiast’s dream.
There’s no shortage of dive sites in Fiji but the Bligh Water off the glorious northern coast of Viti Levu are in a class of their own. Reached via a two-hour drive that is an unforgettable experience in its own right, the Bligh Water are home to strong currents that carry nutrients to the area’s soft corals, which make the reefs a sight unlike any other. Toss in huge schools of tropical fish, barracuda and turtles and you’ve got the diving trip of a lifetime.
So gorgeous that they served as the backdrop for both the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away and TV’s Survivor: Fiji, The Mamanucas are a chain of 20 islands near Nadi and the resort hub of Denarau. What’s on offer here? Better to ask what’s not? Blessed with crystal clear waters, palm-fringed beaches and oodles of coral, the Mamanucas are a paradise of resorts, restaurants, snorkeling, swimming, diving, kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, parasailing, dolphin-watching, catamaran riding and sun worshipping. Did we overlook anything? Rest assured, even if we did you’re almost sure to find it there.
Grow for it
Actor Raymond Burr, a veteran of the golden age of American TV, is best remembered as the star of late-night TV staples Ironside and Perry Mason but this lifelong horticultural hobbyist also left a gift to posterity in the form of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Located in the foothills of the Nausori Highlands, 6.5km north of Nadi airport, the garden’s 2,000 varieties of Asian orchids are the obvious draw here. The garden’s huge expanses of manicured lawn and rainforest canopy-covered boardwalk at the base of Sleeping Giant Mountain make this place the ideal spot for a bit of serenity in the wake of an adrenaline-charged visit to the Mamanucas.
Dune it right
Not enough sun and sand for you? To summit sand dunes ranging from 20-60m in height, explore archaeological sites tracing 2,000 years of Fijian history, feast your eyes on ancient artefacts and catch sight of rare bird species in native dry forests, simply follow the main Queen’s Highway out of Nadi to The Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, the first facility of its kind in the islands and a site that’s under consideration for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.