Fiji’s administrative capital is often undeservedly left off the tourism radar as travellers flock to dreamy outer islands or coastal resorts within moments of touching down at Nadi International Airport. However those looking to do more than topping up their suntan or exploring Fiji’s natural treasures above and below the water would do well to explore Suva. Come for its history, but linger a while to absorb the lifestyle of a city with a population of around 90,000 with oodles of distinctly Melanesian flavour.
After Fiji was annexed from the United Kingdom in 1874 the Capital was relocated from Fiji’s first modern town of Levuka on Ovalau Island to where Suva stands today. Back then Suva was little more than a waterfront village perched at the base of a mountain. Located on a peninsula that formed a natural harbour, access to the sea and ports beyond became Suva’s link to the rest of the South Pacific. Eventually much of the mangrove-lined coast was reclaimed as the village morphed into a city. The Port of Suva plays a significant role in Suva’s position as the third largest urban centre in the South Pacific behind New Zealand and Australia.
A multicultural city dominated by Indigenous Fijians, Indo-Fijians along with Europeans and Chinese, stand on a Suvan street corner and you’re likely to hear conversations held in Fijian, Hindustani, English, Cantonese or a cacophony of any of them!
The Royal Suva Yacht Club on Walu Bay is a bit of a social institution amongst locals as well as the scores of cruising yachts who visit Fiji each year. Even if you can’t recognise the blunt end of a yacht from the pointy end, it’s worth calling in for lunch or dinner or simply a refreshing beverage overlooking the waterfront.
Pop into the Fiji Museum set amidst the grounds of Suva’s botanic Thurston Gardens for a terrific insight Fijian history. Artefacts and archaeological finds dating back 3,700 years as well as photographs and more recent relics are on display. The Fiji Museum offers an intriguing insight into Pacific Island culture and migration as well as Fiji’s own often troubled history.
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