Saturday, November 3, 2018

Denarau Island as Jump Off Point to Paradise (Viti Levu, Fiji)

Denarau Island is a multi-use facility for Fiji's tourists located west of Viti Levu, Fiji's main island. Attached to the main land by a short causeway, the island is the home of Port Denarau, the jump off point for travels to the islands of the Mamanucas and the Yasawas further north. 

It has Port Denarau Shopping Center, cafes and restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe, a bakery; a pizza parlor; an Indian, Chinese, Fijian and Italian restaurant; a New Zealand ice creamery; a jewelry shop; several spas and hair/nail salon; an apparel shop (Harrisons); a car rental shop; foreign exchange; a medical and diagnostic center; a Westpac Bank and even a law firm, if you require representation in Fiji - Heaven forbid. 

It is home to posh 5-star hotels like Radisson Blu, Westin, Hilton, Sheraton, Wyndham and Sofitel. Simply put, it's the most non-Fijian place in all of Fiji. It also has a beautiful 18-hole golf course you'll see on your way to the port and shopping center.

A taxi from Wailoaloa Beach or Nadi to Denarau will cost you around F$15-20 one-way. It takes about 10-15 minutes covering 9.4 kilometers. 

I haven't really explored much of Denarau. Most tourists are always on a rush to either catch their chartered boats or hop into their Sea Cruise buses back to their hotels and guesthouses in Nadi or Wailoaloa. 

I didn't want to miss my bus because it's free service when you book for an island visit or head to one of the islands for a few days via the Yasawa Flyer

Port Denarau has a small building littered with many travel booths where you can buy tours. You can exchange your Bula Pass vouchers here for your boarding formality. For my visit to Castaway Island (from that Tom Hanks movie), I worried about my passport because I forgot to take it with me. But it wasn't necessary as long as you have your tour voucher or Bula Pass with you. I think, though, it is safer to have your passport with you. 

There is no waiting hall inside the building. You just stand near the jetty outside and wait for your yacht to board. Like most of Fiji, the dynamics of boarding your ride are relaxed. 

If you love shopping, Denarau is the place for you, although the airport has several shops that are surprisingly cheaper than the ones I saw in Wailoaloa or Nadi. Airport shops are usually more expensive. Not in Fiji.

I am not sure if it's a good idea to hike from Denarau to Nadi, particularly if you have heavy luggage with you. Remember that Denarau is considered private property (supposedly) with commercial activity. You're there to dine or shop; board a boat, check in at one of the posh hotels, or play golf. In short, paying guests are welcome.

Rent an electric bike at F$9/hour or F$38/day.

The port's check-in counter. has friendly staff.

After check-in, you go outside and wait for calls to your ship's boarding. No benches here.

Directory of Shops, Services and Offices in Port Denarau Shopping Center:

This photo only courtesy of

#denarauisland   #fiji   #melanesia   #southpacific   #port

Monday, October 29, 2018

Tropic of Capricorn Beach Resort (Wailoaloa, Nadi, Fiji)

Wailoaloa Beach has limited choice for accommodation in this area. But when transiting in Nadi, I'd rather be where the sea is. Nadi City wasn't a very pleasant option. Of course, I also considered a B and B in Martintar, but that didn't pan out. There were elements in the online reviews that turned me off. 

Meanwhile, Tropic of Capricorn had free airport pick up, two swimming pools, a decent wifi service and the South Pacific ocean. Like most accommodations in Fiji (outside luxury resorts), the standard of quality and facility isn't up to par with hotels elsewhere, particularly in Asia. With what you pay, you get less. This stay, for example, doesn't include breakfast for its price. This makes Fiji relatively more expensive for travelers. Fiji isn't for the backpackers on shoe-string budget.

Tropic of Capricorn has two buildings. At the back of the front desk/check-in counter, are a row of dorms. Then fronting the beach, you'll find a relatively newer 4-story building for standard, double and family rooms. I booked a double room with balcony and pool view. But what I got was an ocean view instead, at the 3rd floor of the building. I wasn't going to complain about that.

The staff are warm, friendly and go out of their way to introduce themselves, ask about you, and chat. They are a very curious lot. I got asked a lot about the teleseryes (mini-series) from my country. Even in my travels in Madagascar in Africa and in Vietnam, people are crazy over them. It wasn't a random question, I learned. Everywhere I went, Fijians are big fans of Pinoy mini-series.


Another characteristic about Fijians is their laidback demeanor. The concept of "rush" is almost alien to them. I had a scheduled 8 AM pick-up for one of my island visits. Despite the 6:30 AM opening time for Tropic's Bamboo Kitchen (Tropic Cafe), the waitress manning the bar wouldn't budge - and it was already 7:20 AM. It was frustrating, particularly because you see her raising her brows whenever I'd ask. You wanted to pluck her thick brows to remind her of the time. Wouldn't have minded if I didn't have a schedule to follow. Yachts and ferries from Denarau depart on time so the idea of my ferry leaving without me was unpalatable. Besides, I paid dearly for it.


I decided to go to Smuggler's Cove Resort, a multi-story hotel resort located next door. At that time, their restaurant was already a bustle of activity while Tropic's was still yawning languidly. To be honest, I had pangs of regret why I never considered Smuggler's Cove which is more tourist-friendly. They have a shop that offers items tourists need (mosquito coils, postcards and stamps, ref magnets, etc.) and they change foreign money to Fijian dollar, among other things. They have an ATM machine, and a restaurant that's open early til late. Furthermore, the hotel resort hosts nightly kava ceremonies with dancing and singing.

Tropic of Capricorn was fine by me. But there were services that could be improved - like following their breakfast schedule or changing it altogether so people won't rely on it. Their wifi is limited to one gadget, and has intermittent signal and poor connectivity. I had to re-connect several times. I booked my day tour to Castaway Island from their travel desk. 

One time, I inadvertently forgot my camera on a table at the lobby, and remembered about it while I was at the bus station in Nadi, on my way to Suva. I had to take a taxi back to look for it. It was scary, but the staff at the front desk kept it for me. So you see, you have a measure of security at the Tropic. They are trustworthy. I appreciate that.

As earlier mentioned, the beach resort boasts of two swimming pools. One is located in front, just a few steps from Wasa wasa Road. Thus, not a lot of guests use it. The other is in the midst of a flower garden, beside the newer building, which has more modern fixtures: glass panels, comfy interiors, and a shelf full of books. 

While the foyer has a modern design, my room upstairs has but a fresh coat of paint. Otherwise, it has seen better days. The "newer" building doesn't seem so new after all. My double room was cramped, with a rickety AC, a small ref, and a clean toilet with bathroom fixtures last seen in the Philippines in the 70's. There's the cringe factor as I use it. All in all, my little Fijian corner was acceptable.


Wailoaloa Beach is located west of Nadi. It is about 3.8 kilometers from Nadi City. Easiest is to take a taxi (about F$10-15) which takes 10-15 minutes. Otherwise, a commuter bus passes by Wasa wasa Road (no designated bus stop) every 30 minutes until about 6 PM daily except Sundays which is a rest day for most of Fiji. 

The commuter bus will drive around the area to pick up possible passengers (there's very few). In fact, I was the only passenger on my bus ride to Nadi  The ride is cheap, at just F$1, but you need to have a prepaid card which can only be bought from the airport or at the bus terminal in Nadi. It's best to load F$10 or F$15 for your card. You swipe it on a card reader beside the driver. The amount is deducted every time you use it. The card is a smart card that can be used in other buses going to Lautoka, Suva and other places, but not for taxis.

Is it possible to walk from Wailoaloa to Nadi City? Yes it is. But I would advise against it. The way to the city has areas with nothing but empty parcels of land; the houses few and far between. The place is sparsely populated. Some parts have no sidewalks. It would be crazy to walk from the city back to Wailoaloa after 5 PM when it starts to get dark because many areas aren't lit at night. It would be a risky adventure.

Receiving room at the newer building has a cozy and modern design.

There's a wifi room for those with limited wifi signal, and it has AC.

My room is at the 3rd floor, left. The ground floor with red walls is the dining room.

Tropic of Capricorn facade along Wasawasa Road. 

This is the first swimming pool, located infront of the check-in counter.

Front desk, check-in counter and Travel tropic, the hotel's travel desk, where you can book day excursions.

I forgot my camera on this table.

This is a good tutorial. Note that the letter "d" is pronounced "nd". thus Nadi is pronounced as "Nandi". 

Day trips from their travel desk. I booked my Castaway Island visit here.

To the newer building and the beach.

My room at the 3rd floor.

Bamboo Kitchen or Tropic Cafe. Supposedly open at 6 or 6:30 AM but the schedule is actually employee-dependent. The restaurant at the Smuggler's Cove next door is more reliable, if you're in a rush.

Restaurant tables

Wailoaloa Beach doesn't have black sands, but isn't white either. Despite its mediocre sand, this has a great sunset.

View from the 3rd floor side-veranda.

Bought a few stuff from the convenience store (mini-grocers) beside Grace Road Kitchen some 3 blocks from Wasawasa Road (below).

#tropicofcapricorn   #accommodation   #wailoaloabeach   #fiji   #nadi