Last updated 10 June 2020
Adventure in Fiji
These half-day activities will have you back in time for sunset drinks and/or a late afternoon swim by the pool.
“As soon as you see any of the locals, start smiling and pretend you’re happy,” advised Britney.
This was one of the many puns provided by the effervescent Britney, an employee at EcoTrax on Fiji’s Coral Coast. I’m about to ride/pedal the world’s first electric-rail riders, a half-day activity I’ve elected to try during my stay at Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. But first I must listen attentively to Britney’s safety briefing and spiel about Eco Trax’s history.
One of the co-owners of this unique adventure experience, Mandy welcomes us inside the original corrugated iron and tin shed, once the location for repairing trains which transported the sugar cane for the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC.) The FSC pulled out of the area after widespread damage caused by floods from a Tropical Depression which hit Fiji in January 2009. Mandy and husband Howard de Vries, an entrepreneurial couple from New Zealand, visualised the concept after discovering the disused rail tracks on one of their many trips to Fiji.
With an engineering background and an inventive streak, Howard came up with an idea of how they could utilise the disused rails for adventure tourism. Inventing his version of the ‘velocipede’ (sounding like something out of Jurassic Park) these electric-assisted bikes have been modified to travel on rail tracks.
“The Fiji Sugar Corporation abandoned these tracks in 2010 so rest assured there will be no fast trains coming in any directions,” says Britney with a beaming smile.
The track winds through local villages where the smiles from the kids coming to high five you as you cycle past, are as bright as the blue sky above. The bikes are safe for anyone to use, adults, kids (big and small) and they’re especially ideal for families, they have a special seat that can be attached for babies. Pedal as much or as little as you like. The track is 11.2 kilometres (there and back) and is flat requiring minimal exertion. If you’re multi-skilled and can pedal taking photos at the same time, your bike partner will appreciate it, otherwise, they’ll be managing the load as you snap the local sights. But the bike is equipped with a battery, which kicks in should you choose to cruise.
Britney warned us to watch out for local animals that occasionally stray on the tracks. A rogue domestic horse who must have liked the shady spot on the tracks was quickly removed by our guides, Dolly and Sake and returned to its smiling owners.
Another quick stop was at Sake’s local village, Malomalo where he ran in to grab some fresh coconuts and fruit for our final destination Vunibua Beach.
This idyllic beach was deserted apart from two locals spearfishing in the crystal-clear water. BYO swimming gear as you won’t want to miss cooling down in the temperate water. Dolly cut up a selection of fresh fruit and coconut juice replenished the energy levels. I couldn’t say no to a few of the sweetest lady finger bananas I’ve ever eaten!
@ecotraxfiji is a fun immersive experience on mainland Fiji. And there’s no need to pretend you’re happy, as Britney suggested. This is one of those experiences you cannot help but smile about.
Kula Wild Adventure Park
Kula Wild Adventure Park is so close to Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort you could walk there, but the staff insist on driving you in an Outrigger buggy. This place is for kids and big kids looking for fun, with the bonus of also interacting with some of Fiji’s unique wildlife.
Due to our being on Fiji time (our oops, too much pool time at the resort) we were running a little late, arriving at the park an hour (ish) before the closing time of 4.30pm. Our group of four meet Nick Felstead, the son of Kula Wild Park owner Phil. Unfortunately, we were too late to try the Krazy Canopy Flier. This curved zip line (only the third one in the world) was designed in France and installed to give kids and adults an experience of flying through the treetops for 300 metres before landing at the river bank below. The water slide was also closed for the day, but it looked like the place where young kids can have a few hours of fun. A licensed café located conveniently next to the water playground would be where I’d install myself with a good book while my kids run some energy off. They sell wraps and curries and more importantly for parched parents, cold refreshments.
Although we were too late for the adventure activities, Nick introduced us to some of the park’s more colourful inhabitants. Reaching into a small cage he gently brought out a banded iguana. This mottled green creature with an exceedingly long tail seemed quite comfortable perched on a human hand (thanks to Marianne for being hand model extraordinaire.)
We let Nick handle the crested iguana on his own. This species native to Fiji was once abundantly found on 14 islands. But they’re now endangered and only located on three of Fiji’s islands. Nick and his team are part of a breeding and re-populating program and will be releasing some crested iguanas back into controlled environments. One of these islands is the well known Monuriki Island (where Tom Hanks Castaway movie was filmed.)
The tour through the Land and Sea building, home to the largest coral display in Fiji is a fabulous way to get up close to the beautiful sea life without having to enter the water with goggles and a snorkel. It was fascinating to see the lab (behind the tanks) with the elaborate set up which is closely monitored to keep the coral and seawater in tip-top condition. It also made me appreciate the scientific work required to maintain the delicate balance to keep both coral and fish alive.
A few days later I traveled to Castaway Island in the Mamanuca Island Group where I learned about the conservation efforts made by the locals and workers on Castaway to help preserve our delicate marine environment.
*I traveled as a guest of Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way.