ADVERTORIAL • February 2019
Fancy a break from the beach and taking things up a gear – or five? From charging down rivers to trekking up mountains – even swimming with eight (yes, eight) species of shark, writer Lisa Harvey gives a glimpse of the adventures beyond the sunlounger in Fiji
Located just south of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, and once named ‘the mecca of Pacific diving,’ the dreamy Beqa Passage boasts 20 dive sites, and is home to Fiji’s protected marine sanctuary, The Shark Reef Marine Reserve. Here, multi-award winning Beqa Adventure Divers lead certified open-water divers – with no cage or barriers – down to a unique area, which has a regular population of eight different shark species. If getting up close to these predators in the wild is slightly too wild, swimming with manta rays just off-shore from Mantaray Island is well worth jumping in for. Most of Fiji’s reefs have abundant marine life and soft kaleidoscopic coral (not least at The Great Astrolabe Barrier reef surrounding Kadavu island), so you’re only a short snorkel away from a spectacular sighting. Just don’t forget the GoPro.
Rafting down the Upper Navua River, which flows for 65km from the highlands of Viti Levu, is arguably Fiji’s best-kept secret. Shrouded in jungle, the river is a hidden trail of narrow passages and walls reaching 80 metres high. Working closely with local landowners and the Native Land Trust Board to protect the area, Rivers Fiji combines conservation tourism with experienced guides who know just how to get the adrenaline pumping. The company offers one to eight day rafting or kayaking trips, for all levels, whether you want to slice chasms or paddle through mangroves. With added highlights such as stopping off at traditional villages or hiking to (and jumping off) towering waterfalls, it’s a side of Fiji you’ll never forget.
You could soak up Fiji’s tropical views from your luxury hotel – but you could also fly through them. Zip Fiji, based 35 minutes from Nadi on Viti Levu, boasts 16 of the highest, fastest, longest zip lines in Fiji, all woven into a spectacular setting of rainforest, canyons and caves. Designed with the best views in mind, the 360-degree panorama at the top of a mountain overlooks the ivory beaches of the Mamanuca Islands (one of the locations in Tom Hank’s Cast Away), as well as Tavarua, Fiji’s most popular surfing spot. And if that doesn’t take your breath away, hurling yourself out of a plane from with Skydive Fiji – and landing on an island of your choice – certainly will.
Fiji’s ocean will always be a lure, but those with a hunger for hiking should head off the beaten (read: beach) path – and onto jungle-fringed trails found in Fiji’s National Parks, including the Lavena Coastal Walk, Vidawa Rainforest Hike and Tavoro Falls Hike in Bouma National Park on Taveuni. Known as Fiji’s ‘garden island’, it’s also where the International Date Line cuts through – near the town of Waiyevo – and one of the few places in the world you can actually jump from one day to another. Experienced hikers after the tropical trek of a lifetime should try the nation’s highest mountain, Mount Tomanivi, ‘the roof of Fiji’ on Viti Levu. Reach the summit with Talanoa Treks alongside guides who grew up on the mountain.
An alternative way to take the road less travelled? An Off-Road Cave Safari. This thrilling excursion revs through the mighty Sigatoka River and heads deep inland to explore the country’s largest cave, Naihehe Cave - but only after a traditional welcome ceremony by its keepers who live in nearby Sautabu village. Another journey on wheels not to be missed is Ecotrax, the world’s first electric rail bicycle tour. Using a disused sugar cane railway along Viti Levu’s Coral Coast, these solar-charged bikes, and its Indiana Jones-like trail, will take you through unspoilt bushland; past large rock cuttings, and astonishing stretches of emerald fields and deserted beaches. It’s even created micro-businesses for the local villages it passes through. Best of all, whether you can or can’t pedal, this authentic adventure is accessible for everyone.
BA flies to LA, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. From there, take a connecting flight to Fiji with Fiji Airways, part of the oneworld alliance. Fiji Link then offers services to eleven exciting domestic destinations with a range of schedules to connect to and from international arrivals