Travel Guide to the Coral Coast, Fiji Islands
Coral Coast Holidays — Sigatoka & River Valley — Korolevu & Rainforest
The Coral Coast is popular as a family holiday destination and it's easy to see why. The main town of Sigatoka takes just an hour to reach by road from Nadi Airport so there's no hanging around for a boat or plane - just hop in a taxi or coach and you're there no matter what time of day you arrive. But the other great appeal is that there is plenty to see and do along the beautiful coastline from great golf courses to river rafting through tropical forests and waterfall treks. The beaches aren't the best though - they are pretty enough to look at but usually of coarse sand and the lagoon in places can be too shallow for swimming or snorkelling.
With a dozen or so large resorts on the Coral Coast and at least as many more smaller accommodations there's plenty of places to stay and all offer good value for money and popular too for families seeking an affordable holiday compared to the offshore "island resorts" which sell at a premium.
Coral Coast Holiday Planner
The Coral Coast meanders for around 50 kilometres starting off as dry rolling hills around Sigatoka and gradually turning to a more rugged landscape of tropical mountains covered in dense rainforest. The beaches here are pretty but with only narrow and often shallow lagoons for swimming and snorkelling.
Sigatoka, a small market town beside the river, is a 1-hour drive from Nadi Town and is the market centre for the Coral Coast villages. The town has a lively outdoor market where fresh produce is brought down from the fertile Sigatoka River Valley by truck or boat. There is excellent sightseeing in this region, both up the valley and along the coast with the Sigatoka Sandunes National Park a highlight. Nearby Natadola Golf Course is the best in Fiji.
Further east towards Suva the rainforest kicks in making it a great spot for adventure, especially around Pacific Harbour. Here there are shard dives, white water river rafting and zip lines through the rainforest. Pacific Harbour is a 2hr 30min journey from Nadi Airport and just 40-minutes from Suva City.
One of the most scenic drives in Fiji meanders along the Coral Coast darting in and out of sleepy roadside villages and crossing numerous creeks descending from the mountains. There are few specific attractions on the Coral Coast apart from its scenery, but situated mid way between the sites of Sigatoka and the activities of Pacific Harbour, and with plenty of accommodation, it makes a good holiday base to enjoy the two.
Natadola Beach & Yanuca Island
Sigatoka marks the official start of the Coral Coast although two of Fiji's largest resorts lie just before the town: The Shangri-La Fijian Resort is located on rocky Yanuca Island connected to the Queens Highway by bridge and there's a small cultural centre opposite with a reconstructed ancient Fijian village. You can also catch a beautified colonial sugar train to Natadola Beach which lies 10-minutes up the coast towards Nadi. Natadola is the best beach on the main island of Viti Levu and has good body surfing and a couple of reasonable beach breaks good for beginners. It's a popular spot on weekends with locals.
Sigatoka Town & The Sigatoka River Valley
Just before reaching the market town of Sigatoka is the Sandunes National Trust Site. Fijian guides can be provided from the information centre and there are well maintained tracks leading through coastal forest to the sand dunes which help preserve and protect this fragile ecosystem. Pottery sherds dating to 3000 years ago are scattered in the sand, evidence of settlement by the early Lapita people. The sand dunes reach heights of up to 50 metres and the wild beach with crashing waves makes an exceptional place to walk and surf.
Two scenic dirt roads lead inland from Sigatoka Town running either side of the the Sigatoka River and each offers great sightseeing through valleys and rural farms with two points of notable interest. On the Sigatoka Town side of the river, about two kilometres inland, is the Nakabuta Pottery Village. The village makes traditional style pottery and demonstrations are displayed in the large Meeting House bure. On the Suva side of the river is the Tavuni Hill Fort National Historic Site. A trail leads up a steep hill, the top of which an ancient Tongan Fort remains. Highlights of this historic site include the killing stone, used in the times of Cannibalism, and sweeping views across the Sigatoka River Valley.
There are several small beach motels and restaurants in the beach suburb of Korotogo known as the Sunset Strip as well as the large Outrigger Lagoon Resort perched on a hill overlooking the ocean and with a beautiful spa centre. Opposite the resort is the interesting Kula Eco Park which has many of Fiji's endemic species of wildlife.
East of Sigatoka Town, the scenery begins to change from rolling grassy hills to a more rugged coastline doused in denser forest. There is also a distinct change in climate - here begins the wet tropical side of Viti Levu. For many, this vibrant scenery with swathes of emerald green are refreshing. Here too begins a parade of traditional fishing villages along the coastal highway.
Korolevu & The Rainforest
Heading east from Korolevu towards Pacific Harbour and Suva, there are several tours available into the rainforest to see waterfalls, caves and local villages. As the hills become more rugged, the coastal highway detours inland. Set in secluded bays off the highway are several lovely small resorts, Mango Bay for young budget travellers. All are on picturesque beaches and have access to great snorkelling, game fishing and shark diving off Beqa Island.
Extending east from here is Pacific Harbour with its adventure tours and river rafting into the mountainous highlands and shark dives around Beqa Lagoon. If looking to explore Suva on a day tour the drive along the Queens Highway takes just over an hour.