Getting to and around the Suncoast
The Fiji Journal (FJ) has always recommended to everyone that it is always best to arrange a transfer prior to arriving in Fiji to escort you from the airport to your hotel or resort. This enables you to instantly jettison your luggage and start relaxing and exploring the different restaurants and facilities. You can arrange this directly via correspondence with your resort or directly with a professional transfer company. If you decide to organise this upon arrival at Nadi International Airport, there are several Transfer companies situated in the arrival lounge that will provide you with this first-class service, but it may cost slightly more, and you may have to compromise.
If you want to rent a car, enabling you to transverse the different roads to your hotel at your own pace, you can again hire a vehicle from the many stalls at the airport. Again, we strongly recommend doing this prior to arriving; this will secure the vehicle of your choice that is fully serviced and ready and waiting for you immediately upon your arrival, creating a smooth transition from the air to the roads. An in-depth step-by-step guide detailing the requirements can be read here.
Airconditioned Coach: This can be a more complicated choice; The Coach stops outside the Departure Terminal at the International Airport. Make sure the destination indicator, the sign mounted on the front of the coach that displays the route number and the destination, reads LAUTOKA CITY; this is the final destination for this coach. Upon arriving at Lautoka, you will have to disembark.
The next coach you will need will normally be occupying or going to occupy one of the adjacent bus lanes, with the destination displaying Raikraki, which travels up the King’s Road towards the Suncoast. We only recommend this to people with plenty of time, a small backpack, and who wish to navigate using the local transport, as when you reach The Suncoast, you will normally have to catch a taxi to make the final section of the trip. The whole journey could take 5 to 6 hours. A Full Guide
Distances to Major Fijian Towns and Cities
The table below displays the distances in Kilometers from the SunCoast and the major towns and cities distributed around Viti Levu, Fiji. (1 mile is equivalent to 1.6 kilometers)
|Rakiraki to: (Queens Road)||Rakiraki to: (Kings Road)|
|Ba - 73 km||Korovou - 68 km|
|Lautoka - 107 km||Nausori - 143 km|
|Nadi - 133 km||Suva - 162 km|
|Denarau - 142 km|
|Sanasana - 182 km|
|Sigatoka - 197 km|
|Korotoga - 204 km|
|Pacific Harbour - 277km|
|Suva - 321 km|
Suncoast Historical Snapshot
For much of Fiji’s modern history, sugar has been the driving economic powerhouse across the two main islands of Fiji. This agricultural practise and dominance of the land can be easily observed when you travel along the Queen’s Highway from the coral coast of Sigatoka town, along Nadi, Lautoka, and across the southern tip of the main island of Viti Levu, making up the Suncoast. You will pass hundreds of acres of sprawling cane farms, some housing the distinctive architectural colonial buildings still standing dominantly on the hillsides.
Indo-Fijians were originally brought into Fiji from India under the Girmit indentured labour system between 1879 and 1916 as a cheap source of labour for their colonies to work the sugar cane plantations. Some 60,500 Indians were transported to Fiji between these dates. The majority of today’s Indo-Fijians are direct descendants of these exiled Girmitiyas of Fiji. Many prominent Indo-Fijian academics, politicians, and professionals were reared on these humble rural farms, going on to build impressive careers outside of farming.
Crystallised sugar is believed to have been first made in Fiji in 1862, and shortly afterward, as many as 35 sugar factories sprung up around the country, yet today only four remain. The first sugar mill was built by early settlers Brewster and Joske in Suva, and the original site was a popular home-grown cooking restaurant called the Old Mill Cottage, this renowned heritage site was unfortunately enveloped by fire in early 2023.
The industry was centered at Labasa in the north and the western side of Viti Levu:
- The Penang Mill at Rakiraki started crushing sugar cane way back in 1881;
- The Rarawai Mill in Ba was established in 1886;
- The Labasa Mill was built in 1894. and;
- The Lautoka Mill, which commenced crushing in 1903, is still the largest mill in Fiji and has been operating for 120 years.
The current sugar industry in Fiji began shortly after the turn of the last century, when the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) became the major player.
- CSR dominated into the early seventies, and in 1971, the agreement relating to the acquisition by the government of the majority shareholding was enacted by Parliament.
- In order to streamline industry operations, the government created the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), which came into existence on April 1, 1973.
- In 1976, the Government established the Fiji Sugar Marketing Company Limited (FSM) to market Fiji sugar. FSC, a public company with Government shareholding, is the sole miller and operates the four existing mills, one of which is based in Labasa and three on Viti Levu.
At its peak, Fiji used to produce as much as half a million metric tonnes of sugar.
An extensive railway system was built in both Vanua Levu and Viti Levu to move cane quickly to mills from cane farming areas. Farmers also use trucks to cart their yield to the mills. Sugar will continue to play a prominent part in Fiji’s economic future.