In this Article by South Pacific travel expert Ian Osborn
Hiking & The Rainforest — Birds & Animals — Visiting a Fijian Village
Although Fiji is best known for its beach resorts, there is plenty to do in the countryside away from the sun and sand. The most popular land based day tours are to visit one of the many friendly Fijian villages, often to experience Yaqona ceremonies, traditional dance performances or to purchase locally made craft, and this can be done at virtually any resort in the country for a village is never far away and always open to visiting guests. Trekking in the rainforest to spot endemic birds, to relax in a cool waterfall or simply marvel the view from a lookout point is another activity with day tour companies, especially around Viti Levu which is perhaps the best and most accessible island for land based activities.
Hiking Trails in Fiji
Despite having vast areas of virgin tropical forest, there are unfortunately few hiking trails to explore. Most resorts have cleared short trails to local hill summits but often the dense tropical vegetation prevents much of a view. The best areas for hiking are the two National Parks: Koronayitu, inland from Nadi, which has short trails through dense forest and over grassy hills passing several waterfalls along the way; and Bouma in Taveuni which has short walks through dense forest to waterfalls and day long hikes along the coast. Both parks have basic lodges for overnight stays if needed.
Fiji is an excellent place for hiking. There are literally thousands of trails around the islands that connect villages, traverse peaks and lead to waterfalls. Most are known only to the local villagers but a few have been opened up for tourism. Several areas have recently been declared as National Parks by the Fiji Island Government and offer well maintained trails, visitor centres and dedicated accommodation. The most popular destinations are reviewed below:
Mt Tomanivi, North Viti Levu
One of the best hikes in Fiji conquering the summit of Mt Tomanivi, Fiji's highest peak. The walk starts at a fairly high spot at the village of Nukukulevu inland from Rakiraki,. Guides can be found from the village to lead you along the steep trail to the summit which takes around 2 hours up and a little less coming down.
Koroyanitu National Park, Nadi Area, Viti Levu
This National Park offers several day and overnight walks, a visitor centre, scenic lodge accommodation and camping. Trails into the rainforest also pass through local villages and combine the stunning natural scenery with ecotourism. Highly recommended.
Nausori Highlands, Nadi Area, Viti Levu
This inland rural area is an impressive collection of rolling hills, river valleys and volcanic peaks. The highlands also offer fantastic views over the Mamanuca and southern Yasawa Islands to the west. The hills transform from sunburnt grassland to lush green valleys during the wet season from December to April.
Colo-i-Suva Park, Suva Area, Viti Levu
Offers 6km of trails through rainforest less than 20 minutes drive from Suva. The area offers waterfalls, indigenous flora, bird life, scenic lookouts and lodge accommodation. Buses go beyond Colo-i-Suva into the heart of Naitasiri. The area is stunning although bad weather is common and roads are frequently flooded. This is traditional countryside and although accessible to tourists, village protocol should be observed.
Bouma National Heritage Park, Taveuni, Northern Islands
In the beautiful Garden Island of Taveuni this park offers three separate day hikes - Tavoro Waterfalls, Lavena Coastal Walk and Vidawa Rainforest Hike, all excellent. There is also a rough trail to Lake Tagimaucia, home of the rare Tagimaucia flower that comes out in abundance between October and December.
Waya Island, Yasawa Islands
If you like coastal walks with views, some of the best tracks can be found meandering along the hilly coast of Waya Island in the Yasawas. Rough tracks pass through grassy plains with several challenging hilltop summits to scale with outstanding views of the surrounding islands.
Other good walking trails
Extreme walkers can explore local village trails all over Viti Levu and Vanua Levu but trails are unmarked and permission for access must be obtained from villages before entering these private lands.
The rainforest around Savusavu on Vanua Levu, Northern Islands has several frequented trails to some excellent waterfalls. Tours also operate to Waisali Nature Reserve, a beautiful rainforest with trails about 40 minutes drive to the north of Savusavu.
Birds & Animals
Apart from its incredible marine life, Fiji has rich tropical bird-life, particularly in the lush rainforests of Viti Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu. Unfortunately there are few endemic animals to find with a small crested iguana and a boa snake its most exciting but both being endangered. If you're wanting to see these two species along with lots of colourful birds, head to the Kula Eco Park just outside of Sigatoka where you can handle both the iguana and the snake if you wanted and walk through bird enclosures.