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Is Suva or Nadi Better? (2024 Fiji Guide)

A view across rural, tropical landscapes in Viti Levu island in Fiji

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If you’re planning a trip to Fiji and wondering: Which is better – Suva or Nadi? I’ve got you covered with this post!

Even though Fiji is a small country, there are tons of places to explore. On the main island of Viti Levu, Suva and Nadi are the two most built-up areas. So if you’re not sure which to pick for your vacation, I’m here to help you out!

I spent a month in Fiji, island hopping as well as volunteering in Suva. In this post, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and recommendations so you can decide where is best to spend your vacation!

Suva Vs Nadi, Fiji

If you’ve never been to Fiji before, it can feel daunting planning a trip. With over 300 islands, there’s a LOT of choice. And if you’re limited on time, the main island (Viti Levu) can seem like the best and most convenient option.

Both Nadi and Suva are on the main island. Suva is Fiji’s capital and it’s on the southeast coast. Nadi (pronounced Nandi) is on the west coast and it’s where most international flights arrive. It’s also near the main transport hub and port for island hopping in the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands.

As Fiji’s two main urban areas, it’s no surprise that a lot of people consider visiting them. Both have different things to offer and are definitely interesting. However – I don’t actually recommend spending your entire vacation in either.

Map of Viti Levu

What is Suva like?

I spent several weeks in Suva on a volunteer placement. It’s the capital and largest city of Fiji so it might seem like the perfect place to start your vacation. BUT, it’s probably not what you’d expect from a paradise destination.

Rather than a tourist hub, Suva is a lot more administrative. Yes, there are a few things to see and do, but there’s not enough to make it worth an entire trip here. It’s also not where you’re going to find those pristine, white sandy beaches!

This is more a destination for those who want to experience something a little different. It does have some charm and colonial style, but it’s not tourist-focused and offers more of an eye-opening experience. 

However, if you’re planning a honeymoon or a once-in-a-lifetime paradise escape – Suva isn’t the place for you.

Best things to do in Suva, Fiji

As the capital, of course Suva is still interesting. And if you have the time for a longer trip to Fiji, there are things that you might want to consider seeing and doing.

  • Suva Municipal Market – if you want the tastiest, freshest (and cheap!) produce the market in central Suva is fab. You’ll find hundreds of food stalls selling everything from tropical fruits and vegetables to spices. The market is pretty big and is open from Monday to Saturday.

  • Shopping – you’ll find clothes stores, malls and plenty of places for souvenirs and shopping in Suva. It’s nowhere near as touristy as Nadi, but it can be a nice place to buy clothes, gifts or mementos.

  • Afternoon tea at the Grand Pacific Hotelthis hotel is an iconic property in Suva (it’s where the Queen, as well as Harry & Meghan, stayed when visiting Fiji). Even if you’re not staying overnight, you can book a luxury afternoon tea experience.

  • Colo-I-Suva Nature Reserve – this rainforest reserve is just outside Suva and is a lovely place to visit. It’s easiest to get there by taxi or on a guided tour (we got the bus, which felt way more complicated than it needed to be!). The setting is beautiful with waterfalls and natural swimming pools.
A waterfall and natural pool in a tropical nature reserve in Fiji

For the easiest option, this Colo-I-Suva Private Tour has great reviews

Is Suva worth visiting?

Unless you’ve got several weeks in Fiji and you want to see a different side of the country, I honestly don’t think Suva is worth it. If all you want from your vacation is powdery white sands and island life, Suva isn’t it.

Truthfully, I’d only recommend Suva if you’re already on that side of the island. For example, if you’re staying around the Pacific Harbour, Suva could make a great day trip. 

However, if you love to get off the beaten track, Suva can be a nice add-on to your Fiji vacation. As not many people visit this part of the island, you’ll get more of an authentic experience and an insight into the country’s history, culture and city life.

How far is Nadi from Suva?

Nadi and Suva are on opposite sides of the island. If you want to travel between the two, you have a few options. 

From Nadi International Airport (NAN) you can catch a 30-minute flight to Nausori Airport (SUV) near Suva. You can also rent a car or get a taxi or private transfer across the island. It’s 190 km to drive between Nadi and Suva along the southern coast (Queens Road route). Expect a journey time of 3-4 hours.

If you want to save money, you could also catch a bus or coach from Nadi to Suva, which would take around 4-5 hours.

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What to expect in Nadi, Fiji

Because it’s home to the main international airport, Nadi is obviously one of the easiest places to visit in Fiji. It’s also a lot more popular and tourist-friendly than Suva.

Nadi itself is a small town, but the region has the highest concentration of hotels in Fiji. It’s a dominant place for tourists and the better choice of the two to have on your itinerary!

That said, I still don’t recommend spending all your time in Nadi. Even though you’ll find gorgeous resorts in the area, it’s not the same as visiting one (or several) of Fiji’s other islands.

Wooden tables and chairs set alongside the ocean in a resort in Denarau Island, Fiji

Top things to do in Nadi

Nadi is often used as a transit hub before heading onto the smaller islands. There is however, a lot more to do here than there is in Suva.

If you’ve travelled a long way to reach Fiji, it’s a good idea to have a few days in Nadi. This will give you time to adjust to the time zone and rest before heading to the islands. You’ll also find several great experiences that are often overlooked.

  • Shopping – you’ll find small shops along Nadi’s main street where you can buy souvenirs as well as clothes. The Nadi Produce Market is also worth a visit if you want to buy fresh fruit and veggies.

  • Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple – this is a great visit in Nadi if you love culture. As the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere, Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple is unique and beautiful!
A vibrantly bright and colourful Hindu temple in Nadi, Fiji
  • Garden of the Sleeping Giantthis was the first place I went when I visited Fiji! It’s a gorgeous tropical garden around 20 minutes from Nadi. It’s known for its orchids and its trail through lush forests.

  • Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool the hot springs and mud pools in Fiji are definitely worth a visit. They’re located right by the Garden of the Sleeping Giant so they’re good to combine. When you’re there, you coat yourself in mineral-rich mud, bake in the sun till it dries, then relax in natural thermal pools.

  • Denarau Island – I consider this part of Nadi because it’s just outside the town and it’s where the best resorts in the area are. It’s also where the ferries to the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands depart from. The Port has a great collection of boutiques, bars and restaurants so it’s the perfect place for a leisurely day.
A view across water towards boats in the marina at Port Denarau, Fiji
  • Adrenaline activities – From Nadi, there’s a good choice of inland adventure activities that you can try out with options including quad bike tours, zip lining and river tubing.

  • Sunset cruise – if something more romantic and peaceful is your thing, there are options for sunset dinner cruises from Nadi. 

  •  Cloud 9 or Seventh Heavenvisiting one of these floating platforms is an absolute must if you’re staying for longer in Nadi or Denarau. They’re in the Mamanuca region but you can join a day trip from Port Denarau. When you’re there, you’ll get drinks, food and music all while floating on a platform in the middle of the ocean.

  • Island day trips – if you’re not staying on other islands, you can take day trips from Nadi’s Port Denarau to several nearby islands. South Sea Island is popular for day trips because it’s one of the closest, but you could also visit Tivua Island and Castaway Island, among others. 

Where to stay in Nadi

I recommend booking a hotel on Denarau Island if you’re staying around Nadi. I stayed at Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort for 2 nights which was lovely. But there are loads of other choices too, including:

✔️ Radisson Blu Resort Fiji ⭐️ 8.7 / 10
✔️ Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa ⭐️ 8.6/ 10
✔️ Club Wyndham Denarau Island ⭐️ 8.6 / 10

Is Suva or Nadi better for tourists? 

Out of Suva and Nadi, the latter is more tourist friendly and my preferred choice. You’ll find way more to see and do around Nadi, as well as some gorgeous luxury resorts. 

As you’ll likely arrive at Nadi Airport, it’s worth staying a day or two in the area before heading on to the islands. What I don’t recommend is staying in Nadi the entire time – honestly, you’ll be missing out on so much!! 

The smaller islands were what made my trip to Fiji so special. It’s also on these other islands that you’ll find those palm-fringed, white sandy beaches and incredible snorkelling. Staying solely in Nadi or Suva won’t compare with that.

Best places to visit in Fiji instead

I totally understand that getting to a resort outside of Nadi can feel more complicated, but I promise you – it’ll be worth it! There are so many incredible places to visit in Fiji, that if you only stay in Nadi, you’re not even scratching the surface.

Especially if you’ve travelled a long way to Fiji (or you’re celebrating a honeymoon or a special occasion), you’ll want to get the most out of your trip! To help you decide where to go instead of (or in addition to) Nadi or Suva, I’ve put together recommendations of other areas you could stay in.

Coral Coast (Viti Levu Island)

Best for: Laid-back & more affordable beach resorts

Lots of palm trees along the beachfront at a resort on the Coral Coast in Fiji

If it’s the thought of getting a ferry or seaplane to your resort that’s putting you off, Fiji’s Coral Coast could be a good option. This part of the mainland is around a 1.5-hour drive from Nadi, on the southern coast. 

The beaches here aren’t as nice as on the other islands, but it’s still a lovely choice, especially if you don’t want any hassle with travel!

Where to stay: Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, Maui Palms, Bedarra Beach Inn

Pacific Harbour (Viti Levu)

Best for: Adventure & outdoor activities

About an hour further east from the Coral Coast, you’ll get to Pacific Harbour. Here, you’ll find lovely beaches as well as a more secluded vibe. 

It’s also an amazing place for adrenaline and adventure activities (it’s known as the adventure capital of Fiji!) You’ll be able to join day tours and excursions like shark scuba diving, ziplining, whitewater rafting and jet skiing. You can also do day trips to Suva.

Where to stay: Nanuku Resort, Fiji

Mamanuca Islands

Best for: Tiny white-sand islands

A view across the sea towards a tiny, white-sand tropical island in the Mamanuca region of Fiji

If you’re dreaming of island life, the Mamanucas tick the right boxes. These islands are absolutely heavenly and have all the postcard scenery. It’s where Survivor is filmed and it’s also the setting for Tom Hanks’ Cast Away. Basically, it’s perfect!

The Mamanucas are relatively easy to reach from Port Denarau / Nadi. It’s one of the most popular areas to stay and you’ll find lots of islands and luxury resorts to choose from. 

Where to stay: Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Six Senses Fiji, Tokoriki Island Resort

READ MORE: Best Mamanuca Island Resorts Fiji

Yasawa Islands

Best for: Secluded paradise islands

A sweeping stretch of golden tropical beach, fringed by palm trees in Fiji

Further north from the Mamanucas, you’ll find the Yasawa Islands chain. I slightly preferred the Yasawas to the Mamanucas. They felt a bit more rugged and private with the most incredible beaches.

It does take a little longer to reach these islands, but that means they can feel quieter. You’ll also find great resorts and amazing snorkelling. Plus, it’s the perfect region for island hopping!

Where to stay: Coconut Beach Resort, Navutu Stars Resort, Barefoot Manta Island Resort, Paradise Cove Resort

Vanua Levu 

Best for: Authentic island experiences

Traditional thatched-roof Fijian bures surrounded by coconut palms and greenery

Vanua Levu is Fiji’s second largest island yet it’s an untouched paradise. Compared to some of the other islands in Fiji, Vanua Levu feels a little off the beaten track so it’s perfect if you want a more authentic experience.

You’ll still find great beachfront accommodation, but there’s not the same infrastructure or modern tourism here. It is, however, an amazing island for diving, as well as hiking and outdoor activities.

Where to stay: Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Namale Resort & Spa, The Remote Resort

Taveuni

Best for: Nature adventures & hiking

A waterfall in a lush, dense tropical forest on Taveuni island in Fiji

Taveuni is the third largest island in Fiji and is known as the ‘Garden Island’. This is a destination that’s picture-perfect with lush jungles and waterfalls as well as gorgeous beaches and reefs.

Bouma National Heritage Park makes up a lot of the island, so it’s a brilliant choice for hiking and exploring. It’s also an island that has a lot of Bali vibes and also boasts world-famous dive sites.

Where to stay: Taveuni Palms Resort, Raiwasa Private Resort

Kadavu

Best for: Simple, tropical isolation 

Kadavu is Fiji’s fourth largest island but it’s completely remote and uncrowded. It’s a great island for escaping and switching off from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

As one of Fiji’s less-visited destinations it feels wild and beautiful. You’ll find isolated beaches, jungles and colourful coral reefs.

Where to stay: Papageno Resort, Oneta Resort

Lomaiviti & Lau Islands

Best for: Remote, desert island bliss

If you want to feel far, far away from it all, you could also consider the Lomaiviti or Lau Islands. The Lomaiviti islands feel like a hidden gem and are very much a pristine paradise. This region is also home to Levuka – the country’s first colonial capital.

Lau is even more secluded. These outer islands are the least-visited in Fiji and aren’t the easiest to get to. Unless you’re staying at a resort that includes transfers, transport services are limited, BUT they’re great islands for adventurous paradise lovers! Some of the islands here are closer to Tonga than Fiji’s main island so you’ll find a mix of cultures and influences, too.

Because of how remote these islands are, you won’t find the same choice of accommodation, but it makes a nice option if you want a unique and off-beat experience!

Where to stay: Wakaya Island Resort and Spa, Vatuvara


Suva or Nadi – Conclusion

With over 300 islands, there’s so much more to Fiji than Nadi and Suva. Even though Suva is the capital and Nadi is a tourist hub, I highly recommend heading elsewhere in Fiji if you want that paradise experience!

From the Yasawa Islands to Lomaiviti, this South Pacific country boasts so many beautiful spots and loads to see and do. It would be a shame to only visit Nadi or Suva and miss out on the best that this destination has to offer!

Whether you’re planning your honeymoon or a dream tropical getaway, you’re spoilt for choice in Fiji.. So, no, I don’t recommend Suva or Nadi for your entire trip, but I do know that other places in Fiji will give you that dream getaway.

I hope this post has helped you decide where you should go instead!

READ MORE: Is Fiji Boring or Worth Visiting?
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