Suva, Fiji’s capital city, may not be at the top of every traveler’s itinerary on their trip to Fiji. In fact, most people give it a pass. But if you’re interested in seeing Fiji beyond the polished luxury resorts or remote getaways, Suva is worth a visit.
Visit the Fiji Museum
The Fiji Museum features a handful of exhibits that detail the intriguing history of Fiji. In the main exhibit, you’ll be able to see an old wooden sailing vessel called a drua and other maritime artifacts. In the second section, the museum details Fiji’s history of cannibalism, traditional rituals (some still practiced today), weaponry, and first interactions with English colonizers. The most talked about feature is the half-eaten shoe from when Fijian cannibals killed and ate Thomas Baker, a Christian missionary who came to Fiji and met Jesus himself shortly after in 1867.
Walk along the sea wall
Suva Harbour is the final resting ground of over 20 shipwrecks — and many of them can be seen from shore. Start at Grand Pacific Hotel and walk along the sea wall towards Nasese.
Hike Mount Korobaba
Mount Korobaba is a fun (and semi-steep) hike to Suva’s tallest point. Venture out early morning to enjoy a trek through lush forest and the sounds of Fiji’s native birds. The start of the trail looks a bit dodgy — being near a cement factory and all — but the views of Suva Harbor and the surrounding islands from the top are worth the effort.
Grab a sunset drink at the Royal Suva Yacht Club
Royal Suva Yacht Club is where the old salties and surfers of Suva come to enjoy a cold beer. Visit during the afternoon to watch the sun set over the Suva Harbor. There is often live music playing and occasional game nights as well. If you’re spending a lot of time in Fiji, it’s worth offering yourself as crew for any boats coming in and out of the harbor.
Enjoy Suva’s nightlife scene
If it’s dancing and music you’re after, you’ll find in downtown Suva. Head to O’Reillys for a bit of rambunctiousness, Traps for a laid-back vibe and coconut cocktails, Temptations for karaoke, Downunder Bar for a more local scene, or Chill Bar if you simply want to sip drinks in a more blue-light atmosphere. If you ask around, you might find a wine tasting, drag show, or barrel night taking place somewhere.
Dine on Indian food
One of the best things about being in Fiji is the abundance of amazing Indian food. Since the Fijian population is around 40% ethnically Indo-Fijian, there are plenty of places to get your spice fix. Yellow Chili is a personal favorite (reserve a table in advance) followed by Ashyana and Maya Dhaba.
Read: The Best Cafes in Suva
Go for a snorkel at Rats
There is a surprisingly good snorkeling spot in Suva, but you’ll need a boat to get there. At Rat’s Passage just in front of Lami, you can snorkel with colorful reef fish, white tip reef sharks, and admire the technicolor soft corals. If you ask around the Royal Suva Yacht Club, you might get lucky and find someone with a boat and keen for an underwater adventure.
Watch a movie at Damodar Cinemas
Are you someone who is guilty of chatting during the movies? Then you’ve come to the right country. Listening to Fijians yell and laugh and somber scenes during a movie is often more entertaining than the movie itself. The best is when they bust up laughing during a scary scene in a horror movie — it helps keep the nightmares at bay. The best movie theater in Suva is at Damodar (cleaner than Village 6), where a movie will only set you back $7.
Swim under waterfalls at Colo-I-Suva
Colo-I-Suva is a natural reserve about fifteen minutes outside of downtown Suva. Walk along the paths from waterfall to watering hole and swim in whichever one looks most appealing. There are around 10 waterfalls throughout the park and it’s an easy way to spend the day. The entrance to the park costs $5 FJD and you’ll want a taxi driver’s number on hand to come pick you up once you’re done with your adventure — the walk to the main road is quite a trek.
Wander through the Suva Municipal Market
Each morning, Fijian vendors set up stands with tropical produce, spices, handmade goods, and fried treats. This is easily the best place to buy fresh food in Suva. Papaya, cassava, dalo, pineapple, eggplant, tomato — it’s all here. Pickpockets tend to pry on obvious tourists here, so keep your belongings inconspicuous.
Stroll through Thurston Gardens
Walk among native plant life and enjoy listening to the birds at Thurston Gardens. Look up and you might see fruit bats hanging from palm trees. On the ground, you’ll spot ferns and ponds with water lilies. Head here to enjoy some solitude and shade.
Swim and Dine at the Grand Pacific Hotel
Easily Suva’s most regal building, The Grand Pacific Hotel is a place to experience a blend of luxury. Built in 1914, the hotel has hosted the likes of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and 1973. More recently, Prince Harry and Princess Harry paid a visit — an event that caused Suva to nearly shut down.
The hotel has a pool on the premises and visitors are allowed to swim in it as long as you purchase drinks or food.
Scuba dive in Suva Harbor
When most people think of scuba diving in Fiji, Suva Harbor doesn’t come to mind. Why would it? The harbor is polluted and the weather is often gloomy. However, there are a handful of decent dive sites centered around shipwrecks and passages of coral reef. There is only one major dive operator in Suva, Suva Scuba, that offers occasional courses and fun dives throughout the week. If you have your own gear, bring it.
Sail on the Drua
A handful of dedicated sailors made a near-exact replica of a drua, a traditional canoe, in the Fiji Museum. Today, tourists can board the drua and sail around Suva for themselves. You’ll learn how Fijians crossed incredible distances on this interesting craft as salty wind blows against your skin. The Drua Experience only runs on special occasions, so book in advance if you want to go for a ride.
Shop for souvenirs at the handicraft market
Many who visit Fiji want to leave with one of Fiji’s more macabre souvenirs like a neckbreaker, brain fork, or paddle carved from wood and decorated with elaborate etchings. While mega-stores like Tappoo sell these by the boatload, it’s best to buy them from a local down at the Suva Handicraft Market — where you’re likely to get a better deal. Bargaining is acceptable and you’ll usually get them to throw in a handful of extra items if you buy more than one object.
If someone offers to carve your name on a knife as a “gift,” decline. It’s a scam and you’ll be pressured to pay for their generous present. If they write your name after you’ve declined — be persistent and walk away. They’ll artfully scribble over your name on the wood and create a new space for the next person who walks into their ploy.
Get a massage at Pure Fiji
Pure Fiji is a miniature oasis in the heart of an industrial complex. Here, you can get massages, manicures, pedicures, and skin treatments from the spa’s friendly staff. Prices tend to hover just below those at the major resorts. If you visit the spa on Saturdays just after 10am, you can purchase Pure Fiji products at a discount.
Pure Fiji also runs Zenergy, a studio offering yoga, body pump, aerobics, and step classes. The vibe is super friendly and welcoming — so don’t be put off if it’s your first time taking one of these types of fitness classes.
Grab a coffee at Governor’s
Governor’s is part museum, part restaurant. On the walls, you’ll see Suva’s has-been colonial history and old posters of movies filmed in Fiji. Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — it’s all delicious.
Take a dance class with Rako Pasefika
Rako Pasefika is one of Suva’s most beloved music and dance troupes. They offer dance classes that cost $5-10 per class and are open to people of all ages and abilities. Some weeks, you’ll learn Pacific Islander chants and fast-paced choreography while other weeks you might learn a slow Hawaiian hula. The instructors are highly talented, friendly, and keen to make you move your body to the rhythmic beat of wooden drums.