The sun shines down on me, as I walk down Naviti Street in Lautoka. I stop for a moment, enjoying the refreshing sea breeze. I look down to my side, an old Fijian man sits on the pavement selling fresh lemons. He smiles at me. I pass a variety of eclectic shops and boutiques, as I make my way to the Municipal Markets. Its midday, there is loud, excited chatter, and colourful produce everywhere you look. A lively, Fijian atmosphere encapsulates the markets, emulating true Fijian culture.
Palm trees shade almost every roadside. Such exotic greenery is consistent throughout Lautoka. You will never be far from greenery, as small parks and trees are round every corner. Perhaps the most vibrant of all the greenery will be found at the City’s Botanical Gardens. The gardens are home to a variety of different tropical plants and water features.
I leave the market, but being surrounded by all the succulent fresh fruit and veg has made me hungry. I walk down Vitogo Parade and pass a variety of Chinese restaurants, takeaway shops and hot food kiosks but decide to stop at an interesting cafe on Tukani Street called the Chilli Tree Cafe. My rumbling tummy is delighted at the extensive menu scrawled over the blackboard behind the counter. There is a all day breakfast menu, offering eggs and beans on toast to honey and pancakes. There is also an exciting looking menu for kids. I am enticed by the ‘make your own sandwich’ counter, which offers a different selection of meats, cheeses and salads. The friendly staff help me choose my fillings and I take my carrot juice and take a seat.
The sun continues to shine as I leave the cafe, with a full stomach, so I head down to the sea front. Once at the waterfront I decide to take a walk along the sea wall. I watch a number of graceful sailing boats making their way to and from shore. The gorgeous day allows me to have a clear view of the beautiful Bekana Island.
Lautoka is a city that offers a different kind of experience of Fiji. It’s off the beaten track, and although it does not necessarily focus of providing for tourists, the beautiful park, individual cafes and picturesque sea front definitely make it a city worth visiting.
Facts: It’s the second largest city in Fiji with a population of 52,220 people and is often known as the ‘Sugar City’ as it lies in the heart of the sugarcane growing region.
Size: The city covers an area 16 sq km.
Vegetation: The city is a port. It has a beach but it is not used for sunbathing. It is surrounded by many sugar cane fields.
Tanoa Waterfront Hotel – This four star luxurious hotel is located on the waterfront of the city. Watch the sun set over the ocean as you enjoy your dinner at the hotel’s famous restaurant Fins.
Contact: (679) 666 4777
Cathay Hotel – An economy priced hotel, located in a busy part of town. Has air conditioning and a swimming pool.
Contact: (679) 666 0566
Accommodation around Lautoka
Saweni Beach Apartment Hotel – Self-contained beach apartments with air conditioning. Swimming pool. Dorms also available. 10 minute drive from Lautoka City.
Contact: (679) 330 8644
First Landing Beach Resort and Villas – This hotel located on Dreketi Inlett has a day spa, large swimming pool and a number of various activities that you can take part in.
Contact: (679) 666 6171
Chilli Tree Café
Located on the corner of Tukani Street, close to the waterfront, this popular hang out has an organic feel to it and offers a variety of delicious dishes and drinks. The drinks menu boasts a selection of milkshakes, smoothies teas and coffees. For food, there are kids, breakfast, hot food, and a ‘make your own sandwich’ menus. Grab a paper, take a seat and do some people watching out of the plate glass windows.
Open for breakfast and lunch.
Blue Ginger Cafe and Bar
Located in Elizabeth Square, opposite the ANZ bank, this Cafe offers a varied cuisine of moroccan, mexican, Fusion Asian and vegetarian cuisine. The coffee served is renowned for being the best in Fiji.
Opening times: 8am – 6:30pm
Nan Yang Seafood Restaurant
Located on Nede Street, this restaurant has some of the best freshly caught seafood in Fiji. Has varied lunch and dinner menus.
Opening times: 6am – 10am, 11am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
See & Do
Municipal handicraft and food market
Get a real taste of Fijian culture at the municipal markets. Fresh produce from watermelons to chilli powder are piled high in the food market hall. The handicraft market offers many traditional handmade Fijian ornaments as well as handmade accesories and clothing from woven straw bags to colourful skirts. The markets are the second largest in Fiji and well worth a visit.
Opening times: Mon – Fri 7am – 5:30pm, Sat 5:30am – 4am
Lautoka Golf Course
Located off Tavakubu Road, just outside the heart of the city, the Lautoka Golf Course is a course of a high standard that often entertains various golfing tournaments. Visitors are welcome. Call ahead to ensure playing time.
Contact: (679) 666 1384
The Gardens are one of Lautoka’s greatest features. Located on Thomson Crescent, the Gardens can first be spotted by the large water fountain near its entrance. It’s home to a variety of different tropical plants from Royal Palms to Banana flowers. Each plant is helpfully labelled with its name and origin. It’s a great place for a picnic, as the Gardens have many picnic benches and open grass verges to sit on. Walk on the bridge over the lilypad covered pond to discover a quiet shaded spot.
Punjas Children’s Park
Located opposite the Botanical Gardens is a large Children’s playground. Ran by the City Council the playground has recently been built and has new, modern equipment for the kids to play on.
Koroyanitu National Heritage Park
Located 15km southeast of Lautoka City is one of Fiji’s greatest nature reserves. The park offers excellent hiking along ancient trails that go through small villages, past waterholes and up to panoramic summits. At the base of Mt Koroyanito is Abaca village where there are luscious waterfalls, bird watching opportunities and archeological sites. Accommodation is also available at the park as you can stay at the villages, at Nase Lodge, at camp sites and at the peak of Mt Batilamu, where you can fall asleep to the sight of the sun setting and awake when it rises. Guided walks are offered and recommended.
Transfers are readily available from Lautoka City.
For more information and bookings contact Abaca Visitor Centre: (679) 664 5431