12 Awe-Inspiring National Heritage Parks In Fiji

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Bouma National Park suspension bridge 12 Awe Inspiring National Heritage Parks In Fiji

Stretching across the full breadth of the Fijian archipelago of islands, are 10 heritage sites and 2 national parks, these national treasures are filled with hiking trails, wildlife reserves, historic sites, and endless opportunities for adventures. In this short article, we delve into the history and importance they hold, to the Fijian culture and the present communities. Some sites are protected for their history, others for recreation, and most simply for the natural wonder of their surroundings.

A Map of the National Parks and Heritage Sites in Fiji
A Map of the National Parks and Heritage Sites in Fiji | Image: Supplied

Fun Fact 1: What is the difference between a National Park and a Heritage Site? National Parks are large areas of protected land with unspoiled landscapes and a diverse number of native plants and animals unique to that given area. The areas are normally strictly monitored to stop any encroaching or development from commercial activities within the confinements of the park, whereas Heritage sites are places or areas worthy of special protection because they contain cultural and natural heritage, ranging from a fortification ditch from tribal wars of the past to a small coastal town such as Levuka Town.  The sites are part of the fabric of day-to-day life but with added protections to preserve their integrity and the fabric of their importance to any given community large or small.

ParkTypeDestinationAccess
Koroyanitu National ParkNational ParkLautokaOpen
Colo-i-Suva Forest ReserveReserveSuvaOpen
Bouma National Heritage ParkNational Heritage ParkTaveuniOpen
Garrick ReserveNational Heritage ParkCoral CoastClosed
Laucala Beach Estate Ring Ditch FortificationNational Heritage ParkSuvaClosed
Levuka Historical Port TownNational Heritage ParkOvalau islandOpen
Momi Battery Historical ParkNational Heritage ParkLautokaOpen
Yadua Taba Crested Iguana SanctuaryNational Heritage ParkVanua LevuClosed
Sigatoka Sand DunesNational & Heritage ParkCoral CoastOpen
Sovi Basin – Protected AreaNational Heritage ParkViti Levu (Central)Closed
Waisali Rainforest ReserveNational Heritage ParkSavusavuOpen
Nakanacagi Bat SanctuaryNational Heritage ParkVanua LevuClosed
Table: National and Heritage Parks of Fiji – Public – Open or Closed to the Public (Public Access)

Koroyanitu National Park


Koroyanitu National Park, also known as ABACA National Heritage Park, is a trekker's paradise in Viti Levu.
Koroyanitu National Park | Image: Supplied

The Koroyanitu National Park (also known as Abaca National Heritage Park), was formed in 1989 by a cooperative of three involving: The New Zealand Official Development Assistance Programme (NZODA), the Japan National Official Committee of the Pacific Economic Co-operation (JANPEC) and six villages co-inhabiting the park,  they collectively all dipped their toe into the eco-tourism pool early, before the massive boom and reverence it has today. The six communities from the villages our entrusted to be the land stewards for present and future generations by protecting and managing the park, and self-promoting ecotourism that provides a steady and reliable income from their work.

The Park lies between the two main cities in the western division, Nadi and Lautoka. covering over 17000 hectares, and has become a hub for locals, field trips from schools and colleges, tourists coming from Denarau Island, and cruise liners entering Fiji from the shipping port of Lautoka for a day’s adventure.

If you are a keen walker or nature lover (Shy Ground Dove and the Masked shining parrot, inhabit the park Ebird), the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park is definitely worth a visit, with many guided trails to explore, from the novice to the more experienced hiker.   ‘It is popular among hikers, nature lovers, and adventure seekers since it offers challenging ancient trails through inviting waterholes, small traditional villages, and lush panoramic mountains such as Mt. Batilamu, which is also known as the Sleeping Giant.’ (Hitraveltales,2014)

FURTHER READING: An article from the team at the hi-travel tales website details their adventures at the park and is worth a read.

Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserves


Waterfall at Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve
Waterfall at Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve | Image: Supplied

Colo-i-Suva (pronounced tholo-ee-soo-va) was established in 1872,  as a national park (2.5 sq kilometers in size), located around 10-15 minutes car ride from Suva City Center, the park is teeming with tropical plants, crystal clear rivers, and the sounds of the avian wildlife singing in the tree tops (Fiji goshawks, Fiji warblers, barking pigeons and golden doves to name a few), ‘set in serene and peaceful surroundings amidst a spectacular rainforest making this a perfect spot for a cool dip followed by a picnic under the canopy of trees’ (Explore Suva, 2013).  The Waisila Creek flows through the Colo-i-Suva Forest National Park in Fiji making its way to Waimanu River. It is the water catchment for Nausori and Nasinu creek (Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve. 2022).

The history of the park was uncertain half a century ago, due to the pressures and appeal of fast money, logging was prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s, thou as the accumulative effects of this ill-judged practice were being felt, a reversal of this program was formulated, with the intention to restore the forest to its original state and start nurturing the beauty and diversity of the environment. As you walk around you will notice the stark difference between the more entrenched older native vegetation against the African Mahogany that was planted post-1950/60’s.  On 24 October 2018, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, traveled to the forest and dedicated it to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy,

Bouma National Heritage Park


Bouma National Heritage Park
Bouma National Heritage Park | Image: Supplied

Bouma National Heritage Park was established in 1990, in joint partnership with the community of Bouma District, and the Fijian and New Zealand governments. The park is located on Taveuni, the third largest island in Fiji, known affectionately as the garden island, the park veils around 80 percent of the island’s landmass and is covered in a blanket of forest and tropical vegetation home to several endemic flora and fauna species, a treat for the avian enthusiasts. There are four villages within the park known as Waitabu, Vidawa, Korovou, and Lavena. Each offering offers a specific eco attraction from hiking, coastal walks (waterfalls), marine parks, and kayaking.

The second highest peak (Uluigalua) in Fiji, towers over the rich vegetation below and cradles Lake Tagimoucia named after the famous flower of the same name, (pronounced tahng-ee-mow-theea). The is unique to Fiji and flowers between the months of October and January.  The flower has become symbolic of the heritage and culture of Fiji. with the colours of the flower being incorporated into the Fijian honours system.   In honour of the late Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the design of the ribbon, that holds the medal depicts the bright crimson and white of the tagimaucia flower (Medinilla waterhousei)

FURTHER READING: An article from the World of Waterfalls website, detailing the three major waterfalls of the Bouma National Heritage Park is an interesting read

Garrick Reserve


Garrick Reserve - National Heritage Parks
Garrick Reserve – National Heritage Parks | Image: Supplied

In the early 1980s, the National Trust of Fiji received a  donation of 430 hectares of diverse lowland rainforest in the Wainikavika creek, situated 7km inland from Navua Town, Namosi Province. The catchment area is home to some critically endangered species such as the Nanai (Fijian Cicada), Soga (Fiji Sago Palm), and the Niuniu (Navua Palm). With future plans to develop this into a National Park.

Laucala Beach Estate Ring Ditch Fortification


Laucala Beach Estate Ring Ditch Fortification
Laucala Beach Estate Ring Ditch Fortification | Image: Supplied

The Laucala Beach Estate Ring Ditch Fortification site is a twin-ring ditch fortification situated on Crown Land at Laucala Beach Estate. Ring ditches were used for fortification in times of tribal warfare in Fiji. An estimated time of construction is the mid-1500s to 1600s, with urban sprawl and more intensive agricultural practices over the last hundred years, many of these fortification sites have been lost.

Levuka Historical Port Town


Levuka Historical Port Town
Levuka Historical Port Town | Image: Walter Bibikow, 2013

‘Historic’ and ‘A wonderful day for Fiji’, were some of the adjectives used to describe the announcement that Fiji’s First Capital City, Levuka, a port town on the east coast of Ovalau island and capital of Lomaiviti province (17°41’08.61 S 178°50’16.93 E) was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2013.

This Is Part of The Citation Of Levuka That Accompanied The World Heritage Listing Announcement:  Levuka Historical Port Town is set amongst coconut and mango trees along the beachfront of Ovalau Island against the forested slopes of the island’s extinct volcano. From the 1820s onwards the port was developed as a center of commercial activity by American and European colonizers and the town became the first colonial capital of Fiji, peacefully ceded to the British by Tui (King) Cakobau in 1874 (but lost the distinction to Suva in 1882). A stone and concrete sea wall run the length of Beach Street, from which other streets and lanes branch inland in a radial pattern following the contours of the land. Inland are the sites of two former indigenous villages Totoga (Vitoga) and Nasau located on one of the three creeks draining the slopes above the coastal plain. Copra sheds, warehouses, bond stores, port facilities, and commercial buildings developed along Beach Street, and residences, religious, educational, and social institutions grew up around the villages of the indigenous population. These are generally single or two-storied corrugated iron or weatherboard-clad timber buildings with hipped or gable roofs.

Key Sites worth a visit include:

  • The former Totoga and Nasau village sites
  • The former Cakobau Parliament House site (now the European Memorial)
  • Morris Hedstrom bond store
  • The Baba indentured labour settlement
  • The Hennings residence
  • Captain Robbie’s bungalow
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral and Presbytery dating from the 1860s
  • The Royal Hotel founded in the late 1860s
  • Deed of Cession site
  • Former Government (Nasova) House site
  • Port Authority
  • Post and Customs buildings together with their remnant tram tracks to the wharf
  • Former Methodist Church and mission
  • Levuka Public School
  • Town Hall
  • Masonic Lodge
  • Ovalau Club
  • Bowling Club
  • Workers cottages
  • Shell button factory site.

Momi Battery Historical Park


Video: Momi The Guns The People

On 1st September 1939, the world was engulfed in WWII, which lasted until 2nd September 1945 and affected every corner of the globe.  Around the world, coastal gun batteries were built to defend shipping lanes and other strategically important locations.  One of these places was Momi Bay overlooked the Navula Passage, in the Western Division, Vanua Levu, Fiji.   Momi Bay was also seen as a likely landing point for an amphibious landing. – it was just south of the strategically important airstrips at Nadi and the port of Lautoka. (National Parks Fiji, 2022)

The Coastal Batteries and gun sites were initially constructed to protect the islands from german forces on allied merchants’ ships, around the pacific, but that all changed when the Japanese later joined the war, resulting in a large contingency of allied soldiers from New Zealand entering the country to construct a larger more formidable fortification at the site, to protect against a potential attack.  This National Heritage Historical site and visitor center takes you on a journey across a time when the future and existence of this tropical paradise were under threat.

FURTHER READING: An amazing review by Expat Ali titled’ Momi Battery Historical Park: Exploring Fiji’s Role In WWII‘ is an amazing read, and Momi Site Brochure PDF.

Yadua Taba Crested Iguana Sanctuary


Video: Fijian Wildlife – Fijian Crested Laguana

There are three iguana species endemic to the Fiji Islands: the Fiji crested iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis), the Lau banded iguana (B. fasciatus) and the Fiji banded iguana (B. bulabula). Previously, all the banded iguanas were lumped as a single species until genetic analysis in 2008 made new findings. The Fiji Banded Iguana (B. bulabula) (2008) in the central islands and the other is the Gau Banded iguana in Gau Island (2017). They are distinct from the Lau Banded Iguana (B. fasciatus) in the Lau Group. (National Trust, 2022)

Yadua Taba island (pronounced Yan-do-a Tam-ber), became the first wildlife sanctuary in Fiji in the year 1980 (Nature Fiji, 2008) , the island is located in the district of Vuya, Bua, Vanua Levu (16°48’58.05″S – 178°17’9.14″E), and home to the critically endangered Fijian Crested Iguana accounting for approximately 98 per cent of the world’s population in total, with close to 13,000 recorded and another 1000 on Malolo Island and other small islands around Viti Levu and Vanua Levu (Vula, 2020).  Doctor John Gibbons from the University of the South Pacific (USP) discovered the Fijian Crested Iguana in the late 1970s when he was invited to the screening of the movie (Blue Lagoon) (FSM, 2019)

Yadua Taba is an uninhabited rainshadow island with less than 180cm of rain per year. The vegetation is comprised of a mixture of beach forest, introduced Casaurina scrub, disused copra plantations, coastal scrub and grassland. Wildlife is limited to migratory birds, tree skinks and geckos, and nesting sites for the Hawksbill Turtle (UNESCO, 1999). The nearest village is Denimanu, located on the main island of Yadua.

Visiting the island is strictly prohibited, and approval from the National Trust is required, an amazing article by Jerry Fife from the Reptiles magazine/website, he was very honored to be granted a permit by the National Trust to visit the island back in 2013. This is definitely worth a read.

Sigatoka Sand Dunes

“Treehuggers” sculpted from dead wood, symbolizing the need to protect the environment. Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, Coral Coast, Fiji
“Treehuggers” are sculpted from dead wood, symbolizing the need to protect the environment. | Image: Supplied

The Sigatoka Sand Dunes were designated in July 1989 as Fiji’s first national park and placed under the custodianship of the National Trust of Fiji, the park has evolved as an important educational and recreational venue and became the starting block for the drive for environmental conservation within the nation. The site was also added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative Cultural Category List a decade later on the 26th of October 1999)

These impressive parabolic sand dunes are a ripple of peppery monoliths skirting the shoreline near the mouth of the Sigatoka River (Lonely Planet, 2022), the second largest river in Fiji (The largest being the Rewa River located on Viti Levu), and located 4-5 kilometers from the main town of Sigatoka, covering an area of 650 hectares the park offers a rich combination of geomorphological, ecological, cultural and aesthetical attributes (Coral Coast Fiji, 2012).  With the dunes towering over 80 meters in height, they provide an unhindered view across the oceans and wilderness of the coral coast.  The Fijian Sevens Rugby Team has used the venue for endurance preparatory training for the Olympics and World Cup Series.

The coastal margins of the sand dunes, prone to the full force of the pacific ocean, are in a constant state of flux and are largely unstable, exposing archeological relics, human remains, and pottery dating back over 2600 years.  In the late 1980s, a team of archaeologists uncovered an ancient burial site.

Many species of birds and reptiles have made this site their home with 22 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to Fiji observed these are the Orange-breasted Mycenaean, Fiji Bush Warbler, Fiji Goshawk, Skinks, Lizards, Geckos, the occasional Fruit bats.

Sovi Basin – Protected Area


Video: Fiji Water and Conservation International Team up to protect Fiji’s rainforest.

The Sovi Basin Protected Area is located in Naitasiri Province, southeast of the main island Viti Levu, the entire protected area (50 000 Acres) is covered with undisturbed tropical lowland rainforest, a natural haven for wildlife.  This area supports the largest protected populations of many of Fiji’s restricted-range species, including the endangered Long-legged thicketbird, the vulnerable Pink-billed parrotfinch and Shy Ground-dove, and the near threatened Masked shining parrot. (“Sovi Basin”, 2021)

Sovi Basin has a number of special natural features. The distinctive bowl shape of the Basin with its encircling volcanic peaks creates a landform unique in both Fiji and in the island Pacific. Its floor is composed of hard granite rock which has slowly eroded over time to form low rolling hills, drained by crystal clear rivers and streams. (UNESCO, 1999) .

In Fiji, 87 percent of the land is owned by indigenous Fijians and administered by the iTaukei Lands Trust Board (TLTB). With support from the Fiji Water Foundation and Global Conservation Fund, CI Fiji secured a 99-year lease with the indigenous Fijians and the TLTB to protect the 16,340-hectare (40,377-acre) Sovi Basin. The Sovi Basin Endowment Trust Fund enables sustainable management of the basin, a milestone for financing large-scale land conservation in the Pacific. Capitalized in 2013, the trust fund has been making payments to communities to lease the land, to the National Trust of Fiji to manage the fund, and to TLTB to manage the lease so that all stakeholders benefit. (CI,2020).

Waisali Rainforest Reserve

The Waisali Reserve is one of Fiji’s last remaining unexploited forests, nestled in the heart of the central highlands 20km west of Savusavu.  The reserve is co-managed by the Waisali Community and the National Trust of Fiji, through this partnership the reserve has become an important education and recreational centre for both local and international visitors. (National Trust Fiji, 2022), dedicated to the preservation and protection of native flora and fauna.

The reserve is just over 130 Hectares in size and many species call it home, over 30 different Orchids, and 21 species of birds (Orange Dove, Red Breasted Musk Parrot, and Collared Lory) (Check out the latest Species observed at the reserve at Ebird)  and the Fiji Ground Frog (Platymantis vitenus) and the endemic Fiji Tree Frog (Platymantis vitiensis).  A two-hour nature trail takes you down a well-maintained (but steep) path to a natural rock pool at the bottom, and then back up the other side to the top (STA, 2020).

The park is open to the public on Mon-Sat 9 am-3 pm and is easily accessible by the main road.

Nakanacagi Bat Sanctuary


The Nakanacagi Cave is located in Dreketi District, Macuata Province, and is the only known maternity colony of the globally endangered Fijian Free-tailed bat.
The Nakanacagi Cave is located in Dreketi District, Macuata Province, and is the only known maternity colony of the globally endangered Fijian Free-tailed bat | Image: Supplied

The Nakanacagi Cave is located in Dreketi District, Macuata Province, (Vanua Levu), and is the only known maternity colony of the globally endangered Fijian Free-tailed bat (the bats roost and breed in the cave).   Based on the best scientific data available, this single roost represents over 95% of the species’ global population.

The National Trust of Fiji worked closely with scientific partners NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, the Institute of Applied Science, and Bat Conservation International, to secure funding from the Rainforest Trust to fully purchase the Nakanacagi Bat Sanctuary and in July 2018, a dedication ceremony for the sanctuary was led by the Paramount Chief of the Province of Macuata, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere. By the end of 2019, the area of the cave was fully purchased by the National Trust of Fiji with funding provided by both the Rainforest Trust and Bat Conservation International.

This newest site to Fiji’s list of protected areas, and the first bat sanctuary in Fiji, helps contribute towards the protection of this endangered species and the restoration of a Tropical Dry Forest habitat. (National Trust of Fiji)

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