With more than 300 islands in Fiji there are endless sun-kissed spots to explore, with all sorts of adventurous activities both on land and below the surface of the gem-toned South Pacific Ocean. Still, most people opt to spend their time near Nadi as the resort area is a fantastic base for exploring the mainland around Viti Levu and beach hopping.
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Some mistake Nadi (pronounced nan-di) as the capital since it’s home to the international airport; however, Fiji’s capital city is actually Suva which is on the east side of Viti Levu, while Nadi is a smaller town close to Denarau where the main port and resort area is.
This tourist hot spot has luxe resorts, a lively marina and is the gateway to the best places to visit in Fiji, with nearby attractions like natural hot springs, a botanical garden, waterparks, golf courses and of course sandy beaches.
From mud baths to markets, here are some of the best things to do in Nadi, Fiji.
Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple and Nadi markets
Start your tour in Nadi town, which has a few shopping streets, a produce and handicrafts market and the dazzlingly colourful Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple. This Hindu temple is the largest in the southern hemisphere, and features Davidian architecture like wood carvings of deities.
While some local Hindus visit this holy site every single day and present fruit offerings, visitors of all faiths are welcome which makes this one of the best things to do in Nadi.
A dress code is in effect at the Nadi temple which includes covering shoulders and legs, and sulus (sarongs) available to borrow at the entrance if required. Slip off your shoes, and wander around the photogenic complex to admire the vibrant murals, intricate sculptures and pyramid-shaped temples.
Note: Photography is welcome around the exterior of the complex, but not inside the main temple.
Garden of the Sleeping Giant
Next up is the serene Garden of the Sleeping Giant, an elaborately-landscaped horticultural masterpiece located in the foothills of the Nausori Highlands close to Nadi.
Nestled under a mountain that resembles the shape of a giant lying on his back, the sprawling 20-hectare garden was once owned by American actor Raymond Burr and is now open to the public. Open daily, it showcases more than two thousand types of rare orchids as well as grand mahogany trees and plants like fragrant spearmint and fire-engine red lipstick palms.
Visits start off with a quick tour from the staff members who list off a dizzying array of flora and fauna, then guests are left to continue along the pathway that winds through the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, past tranquil lily ponds, a wedding venue and up to a viewpoint of the surrounding valley. A refreshing fruit juice awaits in the main lodge when you get back.
The Sabeto Mud Baths
It gets quite hot and humid in Garden of the Sleeping Giant Fiji; fortunately there’s a spot to soak just down the road.
The Sabeto mud pools are surrounded by the lush Sabeto Valley, and a popular hangout spot for tourists and locals alike with four different thermal hot springs.
The first step is to slip on your swimsuit, and slather every inch of yourself in mud. Bake for about 10 minutes in the hot sun until it dries, then hop into the first pool to slosh it all off. Fortunately, the kind villagers who manage the site are happy to take photos of how ridiculous you look!
These Fiji hot springs are said to be chock-full of therapeutic mineral properties, and visitors are encouraged to soak in each one. Temperatures range from about 30 degrees celsius to a nearly-scorching 70 or 80 degrees, providing the perfect spot to relax and rejuvenate.
Afterward, rehydrate by sipping out of a fresh coconut, or continue your Fijian spa day by getting a massage. It’s a rather unique experience with everyone in the same room on tables and mats, yet it’s guaranteed to slip you into a tranquil state.
Sabeto Mud Baths pricing (in FJD)
- Admission: $30 for adults, $15 for children, $15 for sightseeing only
- Massage: $70 for 1 hour, $40 for 30 minutes
- Towel rental: $5
There are also washrooms, food stalls and souvenir stands on site.
Touring Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple, Garden of the Sleeping Giant and Sabeto Mud Baths
This tour is an excellent option for those who arrive at Nadi airport first thing in the morning and are unable to check in to their hotel until late afternoon, since it only takes half a day and includes a soak in the hot springs to help unwind from all that travel stress.
It’s possible to do a self-drive Nadi tour, keeping in mind the drive up to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant can be quite bumpy and dusty. A more popular option is to visit on an organized tour through a company like Rosie Holidays which has friendly, knowledgable local guides, or this Nadi tour which includes a visit with school children and a stop at Viseisei Village where Fiji’s first ancestors landed.
- Viti Levu: Mud Pool, Temple, and Sleeping Giant Garden
- Shore Excursion-Nadi Mudpools,Sleeping Giants Gardens,Markets, Temple & Shopping
- Discover Nadi (does not include Sabeto Mud Pools)
Another popular thing to do near Nadi is exploring Denarau Island, which is attached to the mainland by a short causeway and is Fiji’s resort hub.
Home to huge hotel brands like Hilton, Westin and Sheraton, this is where the majority of people visiting Fiji stay since it’s close to the airport and is a good base for day trips around Viti Levu and out to the surrounding islands.
Activities on Denarau Island include golfing, spas, getting wet at the Big Bula Waterpark which is Fiji’s only land-based waterpark. A hop on/hop off trolley shuttles between the resorts all day long, including a stop at Port Denarau where you’ll find shops (don’t miss Fijian-favourite Jacks to pick up souvenirs) and restaurants.
This is also where boat tours depart from, which head out to spots like the Mamanuca Islands, the Cloud 9 floating bar and beach clubs.
Where to stay near Nadi, Fiji
Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa: This stunning, five star resort just a few minutes from Port Denarau impresses at every turn, from the friendly staff to the luxe rooms to its sweeping beachfront location.
Both families and couples are welcome here, as the Sofitel has a separate adults-only area called the Waitui Beach Club. It’s worth springing for, with perks like an elevated infinity pool experience complete with plush cabanas and a swim-up bar, as well as complimentary snacks throughout the day and a nightly happy hour.
All guests have access to the spa which features a large hot tub hidden under a thatched bure, multiple restaurants, the main pool complete with waterslide and a night club. Click here to book
Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort: While the decor at this newly-renovated resort is missing the Fijian feel that its neighbours do so well, the Sheraton still impresses thanks to the reflective pools, serene lobby area and multiple restaurants.
A good option for families, there’s plenty of entertainment on-site including a kids area, man made beach and an incredible traditional fire dancing show. Click here to book
Globe Guide explored Nadi as a guest of Tourism Fiji
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