Fiji's national parks are pristine, vast and bursting with life. And with protected cloud forests, coasts, mangroves and dense bushland, there’s a lot to choose from. Here’s our pick of the best...
The Bouma National Heritage Park covers a huge swathe of the green-cloaked island of Taveuni. Many adventures can be found hidden inside the dense forest and the Vidawa Rainforest Trail is great for walkers looking to seek some of these out. Follow the trail while keeping a keen eye out for colourful endemic birds and some rare flowers, many of which are unique to Fiji.
Cool down with a dip in the Tavoro Falls, a trio of tiered waterfalls that look like they have been ripped straight from the paradise island of your imagination. Follow the ascending path that links the three to listen to the crashing water and swim in the pool below, surrounded by emerald greenery on every side.
If you want to get a sense of just how vast this national park is, be sure to climb to the top of Des Voeux Peak. After passing through rugged jungle filled with birds (look out for the elusive orange dove), you’ll reach the 1,195-metre-high summit, where you’ll be able to see the jungle sprawling out around you as well as the Lau Islands on the horizon.
Don’t miss Lake Tagimoucia while exploring the peak. The banks of this vast volcanic crater lake are home to the epiphytic flower, and is the only place the world where you’ll find this rare species of plant.
Taveuni doesn’t just offer adventure above the ground, its underwater world is just as vibrant.
Locally managed by the communities of Lavena, Waitabu, Vivawa and Korovou, this underwater haven has been a strict no fishing zone since 1998, meaning life has been able to flourish here.
Put on a snorkel mask, walk down the fringe of white sand to reach the azure water and look down to see the pastel-hued coral reef, home to over 1,000 species of fish.
Look out for the humphead wrasse. Being anywhere between three and six feet long and electric blue, green and purple in colour, they certainly aren’t hard to spot. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see turtles and rays gliding past.
The Sigatoka Sand Dunes, with their rippled surface undulating under a blue sky and rising mightily above the South Pacific, are a sight you’ll likely never forget. Although the views are some of the best you will see in Fiji, exploring these dunes is about more than just the spectacular beauty. This part of Fiji is home to one of the earliest settlement sites in the country and there’s a wealth of cultural heritage as well as natural sites to discover here.
With some of the dunes rising to a height of 60m, there’s some tough yet rewarding walks to be had. The sandy landscapes may look barren on first inspection, but a walk and an alert eye will reveal a whole world of life. Look out for lizards and geckos on the ground and raise your head to the skies to catch endemic birds such as the Fiji bush warbler and Fiji goshawk gliding past.
Study the shards of pottery that are scattered across the dunes for an insight into this area’s long and rich history. These pots are thought to have been left behind by the early inhabitants of Lapita origin and the dunes have produced the largest collection of Lapita pots from the Pacific region. Visit the Museum in Suva where some of the pottery is on display and where you can learn more about this early heritage.
With walking trails that are covered by the shade of trees, filled with the sound of birds and splashed with pristine natural pools, it’s hard to believe this pocket of unspoilt nature lies just a 15-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of the city of Suva.
The Colo-i-Suva Forest Park is particularly exciting for avid birdwatchers as 30 of Fiji’s 57 land bird species have been spotted here. Increase your chances of exciting sightings by hiring a park ranger, who will use their expert knowledge to take you to the best spots for seeking birds, making sure you see as many of the feathered creatures as possible.
Don’t forget to take a packed lunch. The park has lots of spots perfect for a picnic and with so much nature and beauty on offer, you’ll want the trip to last all day.
Situated in Fiji’s far north off the coast of Savusavu you’ll find Namena Marine Reserve, one of the best places for diving in Fiji. Fishing has been banned at the reserve since 1997, meaning the waters are teeming with a rainbow spectrum of coral as well as fish big and small.
Take your time searching between the crevices of the coral to see some of the 1,000 fish that call this reef home, such as the blue ribbon eel, silvery shoals of barracuda, an endemic species of squid and even hawksbill turtles.
There are much bigger fish here too and if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of spinner and bottlenose dolphins as well as pilot, mink, sperm and even humpback whales splashing their way through as the reserve is right on the edge of a big fish migratory path.
The adventure doesn’t stop once you get out of the water. Take time to explore the shore, looking out for the red-footed booby birds. There are around 600 pairs of these intriguing birds on Namena island.
Snorkel or dive in the Mamanuca Islands and you'll quickly see how clear the waters are. This is largely thanks to the Mamanuca Environment Society, which has worked to set up Marine Protected Areas throughout this string of islands. And it's had a huge positive impact, with the waters brimming with bright soft corals and a rainbow spectrum of fish life.
Many of the hotels in the Mamanuca Islands are involved in the scheme. As well as taking you to the best spots to see the marine life, the hotels offer informative talks and environmental programmes to educate both adults and children alike.
Don't miss a visit to one of the Mamanuca Island's turtle conservation centres, where you can help release the baby turtles back into the wild. Watching the tiny turtles scuttling down the sand and disappearing into the sea is a sight you'll likely remember for the rest of your life.
Situated within the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the largest reefs on the planet, the Naiqoro Passage is a 21-metre-long narrow passage hiding an abundance of life.
Jump off the boat and descend with a guide, lowering yourself down the vertical wall to discover a riot of colour. Red, orange and purple spongy coral hide many reef fish including snapper and sweetilips fish.
There’s a warren of tunnels, crevices and caves to explore, all covered in a colourful carpet of coral, where you can swim in and out in search of manta rays and reef sharks.
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