It may be Fiji’s capital with 85,000 inhabitants, but Suva’s laid-back atmosphere, spectacular scenery and village-style hospitality is something of an antidote to the typical perception of city life.
What’s more, it may be on Fiji’s famed coast, but it’s not a beach resort. Suva is lined by mangroves, giving it a lush backdrop. The closest beach is 25 miles away, but there’s plenty to enjoy here.
A city of some 85,000 residents, the harbour town of Suva is perched on a peninsula that juts out from the coast of Viti Levu, the most populated of Fiji’s 332 islands. When Suva was established, it covered just one square mile, and in 1952 it was expanded to reach eight square miles. In this same year, Suva became Fiji’s first official city.
Most of Suva’s residents are indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, but there are many minority cultures in the city, which gives it a multicultural feel. Visitors to Suva are welcomed heartily by Fijians, who are known for their friendly hospitality.
Wandering around Suva’s streets reveals an intriguing blend of colonial and modern architecture, painting a picture of the city’s history. Government House was once the home of Fiji’s colonial governors, but it is now the Presidential palace. Built in 1882, the building was destroyed by lightning in 1921 and was rebuilt seven years later. Although the public cannot see inside the palace, you may be lucky enough to catch the monthly changing of the guard ceremony, featuring vividly coloured uniforms.
For a glimpse of traditional Fijian culture, Suva cruise passengers should pay a visit to The Fiji Museum in Thurston Gardens. One of the city’s 78 green spaces, this garden was opened in the early 20th century and boasts colourful plants and flowers, as well as the city’s museum. It is here that you can examine the largest Fijian artefact collection in the world, with some items dating back as far as 3,700 years.
There are plenty of shopping options in vibrant Suva where you can find gifts and souvenirs to remind you of your trip. Cumming Street and Victoria Parade are known for their modern shops and malls, where duty-free bargains can often be discovered. For a shopping trip with a little more local flavour, try one of Suva’s lively markets, such as the Suva Municipal Market. Overflowing with fresh produce, clothing and handicrafts, residents and tourists alike can be found scouring the colourful marketplace for treasures.
To slow down the pace, enjoy a walk along Queen Elizabeth Drive, which lines the city’s shoreline. Venturing a little way out of the city will take you to natural attractions such as Colo-i- Suva Forest Park, which is known for its waterfalls, natural rock pools and tranquil rainforest walks.
The tropical climate means that temperatures in Suva remain constant throughout the year, with an average low of 22°C and average highs of 28°C. There is not really a dry season here, so it is best to pack some light, waterproof clothing to be prepared for rain and humidity.