If you’re going to be spending time in the Mamanucas and Yasawas then you need to become familiar with Port Denarau and Nadi. This is the place cruisers come back to every few weeks to provision and check in with the “real” world. Here’s are few things and places you might want to know about.
- The South Pacific Butchering Company is “the” place to go for meat. This place is absolutely amazing and is just a short bus or taxi ride from the port. Their meats are always fresh and very tasty. Some are imported but much of it is local beef, chicken and pork. They offer an amazing service for us yachties too. If you call or stop by and place an order they will vacuum seal it in the quantities your choose, freeze it and then deliver it to the port the following day. Good meat is hard to find in Fiji and we are so happy to have found this amazing place!
- In the port there is a small grocery store called the Yess Expressmart that caters to the ke pelangi (tourists). They have really good vegetables even if they are a bit pricey. Of course anything located in a tourist area and along the waterfront is going to be pricey. We buy our beer here when we aren’t going into town. They also have some things we have difficulty finding at the stores in town such as really good sour cream and gourmet type cheeses.
- For fresh bread there’s only one place to go and that’s the Fresh Bread Kitchen. They bake the bread right there and it’s always fresh. They also have an amazing Raspberry Lamington that we simply can’t resist. Dan & Grape Ape call it Raspberry Babinka. For those who have seen the movie “Deuce Bigalow” you will understand that comment.
- The open air market in Nadi is probably the cheapest place to get fresh vegetables but you need to be an early bird to get them. Since we aren’t really early birds these days we typically get ours at the market in the port.
- As for grocery stores. They are a hit or miss kind of thing. We find that shopping here is much like every other third world country. You have to visit several different stores to find what you are looking for and be prepared not to find it at all. That said there are several in downtown Nadi but we found the New World market just outside of town at the bottom of Namaka hill has a better selection than the stores in town.
- Rhum-ba is hands down our favorite spot with beer served in frosty mugs, excellent food, fantastic marina view and an amazing staff. Of course here in Fiji they love their rugby and Rhumba puts up TVs for the big matches.
- Mamacitas Mexican Restaurant in the Wyndam Hotel at Port Denarau had some pretty tasty Mexican food. Having spent a lot of time in Mexico it had to be good to impress us. They also serve up a traditional lovo buffet which Dan said was good but not great. He loved the pork but the rest was just so so. We’d definitely go back but probably for lunch and we’d sit out front. The view isn’t is nice but inside it is really loud with so many people walking around on the tile floors and because it’s a family resort there are lots of kids.
- The Hard Rock Café has some pretty tasty food and does an afternoon happy hour. It’s a little pricey compared to Rhumba but it’s nice to try something different once in a while.
There are several other restaurants at the port and many in the various resorts around Denarau. We just tend to be creatures of habit and when we find something we like we stick with it. For us it’s Rhum-ba all the way!
Marine Parts & Hardware
Finding marine parts and service is fairly easy here. There is a Yamaha sales and service center located here as well as several other facilities including sail makers etc… There’s also a marine store in the shopping area where you can pay a definitely inflated price because they are right there at the port.
There are other marine facilities and hardware stores located in Nadi. Shopping for parts here is like any other third world country….you have to be prepared to look for something in the most unlikely of stores. I’ve mentioned before that there are Chinese owned stores all over and they often carry a very mixed bag of things from clothes to food to electronics to hardware. This is the reason we are always walking in and out of stores when we go on walkabout. We take mental notes of what we find and where so if something comes up we know where to try first.
As I mentioned in the article about Denarau and Nadi there are taxis and buses. We take the bus into Nadi and then a taxi back when we have a lot of items to carry. Also, around Port Denarau there is the Bula Bus. This is a fun little, open air bus to ride if you are just resort hoping around Denarau. It’s $8 FJD per day and is a hop on hop off type of thing. We rode it when we met some friends who were staying at the Sheraton Resort and it was a fun change from the regular, large buses that we take into town.
They have rental cars too but the one time we looked into one they didn’t have any available so we don’t know much about them. We do know you can rent them right here in the port.
The city buses don’t have AC so be prepared for that. They can be hot but we like riding them because we enjoy interacting with the locals. Having spent so much time in this area we’ve become friends with many of the locals and every once in a while we will see one of them riding the bus. It makes us feel like a real part of the community.
There are also several ferry companies that operate out of the port. The Malolo Cat will take you to and from Malolo Lailai which is also known as Plantation Island. That’s where the Musket Cove Resort, Plantation Resort and Lomani Resorts are located. We’ve taken this into the port from the island and it’s a nice 50 minute ride. If you have a Musket Cove Yacht Club card they offer you a 10% discount. These are available to cruisers who are staying in the marina or anchorage for a $10 FJD fee.
Port Denarau Marina
I said a couple of articles ago that we haven’t actually stayed in the Port Denarau Marina. We would have done so a couple of times but it’s really hard to get a slip or even a mooring there. It seems they cater to the mega yachts and Dazzler certainly isn’t one of those. That said they are very friendly and helpful in the marina office and we do use their laundry facilities. You have to buy the tokens from the marina office the day you plan to use them. Guess they don’t have enough tokens to go around.
We’ve also found that they are incredibly helpful with information as to how to get around the area, how to arrange for checking out of the country and just about anything we’ve asked.
You can check in and out of country here. We didn’t check in here so we don’t know that procedure. We are considering check out here so we learned you have to make plans a few days in advance and stay at one of their dedicated Customs & Immigration slips so it will cost you a night’s slip fee.
Of course there are many more stores, restaurants and things to see here but we just wanted to give you some information on the places we actually know about.
Avoiding The Scams
As in any country in the world there are always people out there trying to take advantage of the tourists. Fiji is no different. One of the biggest scams we’ve seen here is in the souvenir markets. Don’t just take someone’s word for it when they tell you it is locally made. We’ve found that most things are not. Most things are plastic junk from China. It’s a shame too because they have the resources and the ability to create beautiful works of art but they choose the shortcut and many, many tourists fall into their trap.
We spent time along the way talking with real Fijian wood carvers to learn how to tell the difference between the real thing and the Chinese knockoffs. It paid off for us when we wanted to buy a kava bowl as well as a few other woodcarvings. The easiest way to tell is by weight. If it feels really light, it probably is not genuine. It’s probably made from some balsa wood in a factory in Asia. The same goes for their wooden jewelry. If you see several pieces that are virtually identical you have to know that they were not handmade. The came from a factory. Oh yes, and all of the items from wooden picture frames to purses that have Fiji written on them came in a container from across the Pacific.
If you don’t care about that and just want something that looks like it came from here then fine but if you want the real deal then you have to be a bit more discriminating. We even found Chinese made sculptures in the famous Jack’s of Fiji stores where they sell carvings, clothes, jewelry and more. They tell you each piece was carved locally but when you see fifty pieces that look exactly alike and then you pick them up and they weight almost nothing, it’s easy to tell they are knockoffs.
The moral of this story is caveat emptor….buyer beware.
Touristy Things To Do
There’s probably a hundred or more different touristy things you can do in the area. There are many, many charter boat opportunities where they take you diving, snorkeling and sailing. They also offer trips out to the islands. We have yet to take do any of these things because, well, we are already visiting these places. That said, we would not miss an opportunity to recommend the Coral Cats. They offer snorkeling, fishing and daysailing adventures aboard their catamarans. One stops by Musket Cove on Malolo Lailai for lunch. And while we’ve not taken this cruise we’ve talked with those who have and they highly recommend it.
So why would we recommend them if we’ve never been on one of their trips? Well, in the three months we spent coming and going from Musket Cove we had the opportunity to meet and interact with the young men who run the catamarans. We’re very impressed with them on multiple levels. Their knowledge of sailing and the local area is excellent. Their outgoing, humourus and wonderful personalities make them a joy to be around. We’ve watched as they hold and entertain babies and young children so their parents can have a peaceful meal. Now that’s service!
One day we even watched one of these fantastic young men teach (with parental approval of course) two little girls how to climb a tree near the beach. Captain Leli, Mac, Sailor and the rest of the guys are truly great guys who do everything they can to show their customers a great time. If we were choosing this type of adventure in the area, Coral Cats would be our choice!
If you are one of the few peole out there who doesn’t really enjoying hanging out on the water there are a host of other tours and attractions to see. There’s the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple located in the city center in Nadi. The Garden of the Sleeping Giant Orchid Farm that was once owned by Raymond Burr where they have thousands of varieties of orchids. You can zipline or take a jungle safari and so much more. Chances are, just like us, you won’t have enough time to do and see everything that interests you. For us, we’re just glad we’ll be back for a few months during next season so we can get a chance to see me.
THIS INFORMATION IS CURRENT AS OF OCTOBER 2019.