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Secret Suva

By Julietta Jameson Posted 1 Apr 2014

Don’t miss Fiji’s amazing capital – full of unique sights and experiences.

The most cosmopolitan city in the South Pacific is its most overlooked. It’s not just the commercial and political centre of Fiji – Suva is a city that buzzes with an eclectic vibe created by a vibrant multi-cultural local population, students from all over the region and a lively expat community. The backdrop is a gorgeous green hilly peninsula lying between Laucala Bay and Suva Harbour in the southeast corner of Viti Levu. There are amazing views from pretty much everywhere and fantastic colonial architecture to admire.

Check these out to discover its authentic heart.

1. Rugby
To know Fiji is to know it loves its rugby union. Go to Albert Park in the early evening. This beautiful ground that dates back to the colonial era. Two games are often going at once, and you might even catch the national team training. The annual Hibiscus Festival is held here (hibiscusfiji.com) where, each year, Miss Hibiscus Fiji is crowned.

2. Natural wonders
Suva is a great jumping off point for some fantastic adventures. In the nearby segments of the Upper Navua River in the central highlands you’ll find amazing protected wilderness. Take a day rafting trip to see waterfalls (riversfiji.com.) Nearby Colo-I-Suva State Forest has nature walks and swimming holes (www.experiencesuva.com/dir/colo-i-suva-forest-park/‎).  Mount Korobaba on the city outskirt is a challenging hike that rewards at the top with amazing views.

3. Glam pads
One of Fiji’s chicest hotels is high on a hill in the heart of Suva. The boutique Five Princes was the original home of the family who started Fiji Airways. The extraordinary, historic Grand Pacific Hotel, where the likes of Queen Elizabeth and US President John F Kennedy have stayed, will reopen this year all revitalised in time for its 150th anniversary.

4. Architecture
Architecture buffs will love shopping hub, Cumming Street, and its rainbow-coloured wooden colonial buildings. The Presidential Palace is fabulous, as is the Suva Municipal Library founded by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (suvacity.org).

5. Fantastic Fiji
The Museum of Fiji is a great place to take kids. It’s got displays of tribal weapons as well as exhibitions dedicated to fishing as well as traditional art and crafts. The facility doubles as an art gallery. (fijimuseum.org.fj).

6. Markets
Suva’s fresh produce and flower market is a photographer’s dream. Colourful, bustling and unique, it’s a must see, especially for the gorgeous flower stalls. Nearby is the Suva Flea Market, where you can get great souvenirs such as carvings, weaving and tapa cloth.
And along the adjacent harbour wall, the fishermen sell their fresh catch to locals.

7. Traditional food
The shabby chic Old Mill Cottage serves outstanding traditional Fijian food, some of it cooked in a lovo.  Famous Singh’s Curry House, is a chilli-lover’s paradise. Tiko’s Floating Restaurant serves fresh lobster, scallops and whole fish.

8. Pampering
The Pure Fiji HQ is home to a day spa and health and wellness centre. You catch a yoga class there and stock up on luxuriously pure products which are sustainably produced. You’re doing good for Fiji when you buy – the company donates to local communities (purefiji.com).

9. Green gardens
Suva has around 80 parks – yes, 80. Popular with the local is the Takashi Suzuki Garden (great for sunsets) and Thurston Gardens, surrounding to the museum, are fantastic for getting out of the heat. Hit the University campus for more shady spots and people watching (usp.ac.fj).

10. Shopping
Cumming Street is great for browsing under shady colonial awnings, while Tappoo is for serious shoppers, a four-storey department store offering tax-free leather goods, jewelry, clothing, home wares and more (tappoo.com.fj).

All images by Julietta Jameson

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