WHERE TO GO SIGHTSEEING : Fiji Island

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Suva : There is a variety of tours available, ranging from one of an hour or so, which covers the high points of Suva, to a tour of several days, which includes all of Viti Levu and principal points of interest on outlying islands. In Suva itself you will want to explore the central shipping area, city markets, Walu Bay, Tamavua Heights, the Reservoir Lookout, Samabula, Lauthala Bay, Suva Point. A visit to the Colonial Sugar Mill at Nausori, 14 miles away, is also interesting. Even the Suva cemetery, with its brilliant colored croton trees, is interesting and different.

You should take a drive along Kings Road, which encircles the coast of the island to the north, and Queens Road, which bands it to the south. (The island is about 135 miles long.) On the north side you pass through Lautoka (Lautoka Hotel), starting place for the Blue Lagoon Cruise of the beautiful primitive Yasawa Islands, with interesting native villages, kava ceremonies and mekes (native dances). Farther along the road is Vatukoula, third largest town in Fiji, where one can visit the Vatukoula Gold Mines, one of the largest producers in the South Pacific. You drive for miles through sugar-cane country and cattle grazing areas.

On the south shore road you will see heavy tropical forests and the large pastoral areas of the Navua (River) flats with herds of grazing cattle. Korolevu, which is about midway between Nandi Airport and Suva on the south shore road, is certainly the spot for anyone who is , really serious about getting away from it all. There is an enchanting hotel with small native-type cabins (bures) right on the beach. Here you may stay for luncheon or for weeks. The swimming is excellent, the fishing marvelous, there are horses to ride and a wonderful deep-blue sea to look at. The price of all this peace and quiet is about $8 to $10 American Plan. Also popular is the Beachcomber, a ranch-type hotel nearer Suva. The facilities and low prices are about the same, the beach outstanding, but there’s more activity in a pleasant, tropical sort of way.

On your island drives you will see picturesque South Sea villages, with thatched huts, palm-lined beaches, magnificent views of surf breaking on the coral reef. Along the roadside you’ll see native Fijians with wiry bushy hair which practically stands on end and children who wave to you happily. In the East Indian settlements you will find women wearing the traditional saris and the men wearing white turbans. The Fijians and East Indians live in separate communities, rarely intermingle, but manage to live peacefully. There is an interesting weekly river and harbor tour which includes Lauthala Bay and Nukulau Island, for swimming, reef exploring and relaxing in a beautiful tropical setting. Cost is about $5.

Tribal dances take place only on special occasions and then are usually performed by natives from one of the smaller outlying islands. There are, on rare occasions, Fire Walking ceremonies on Mbengga Island, southwest of Suva, where Fijians baffle onlookers by treading barefoot over red-hot stones without apparent injury.

Tahiti : This famous island is now readily accessible by air. Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) operates a fortnightly service which stops at Suva and makes the overnight flight in a 4-engine Solent flying boat to Papeete, Tahiti, via Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.

SOURCES OF FURTHER INFORMATION : The Fiji Visitors Bureau, situated opposite Suva’s Town Hall building on Victoria Parade, has tickets for local events and information on tours, local sightseeing and cruises; literature in English on Fiji, maps of Suva, Viti Levu and the Fiji Islands. The Pan American Sales Office, Victoria Parade, can provide similar information.

A typical South Seas village, seen along the roads that lead around Viti Levu Island from Suva.

Coconut palms nod over the streets of Suva. Grand Pacific Hotel is in the foreground.

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