The town of Nadi (pronounced NAN-dee), 75 mi/120 km by air northwest of Suva, on Viti Levu, doesn't really offer much to visitors (other than tacky shopping), but the beauty of the surrounding region and the offshore islands is reason enough to at least pass through. The international airport is there, making Nadi the tourism center of Fiji and the major jumping-off point for excursions around Viti Levu and to the offshore islands.

Stroll around the vibrant vegetable market near Nadi town's bus station and visit the kaleidoscopically colorful Hindu temple at the south end of town. It's Fiji's largest temple (you must remove your shoes before you enter).

North of Nadi is the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, an orchid garden that once belonged to the late actor Raymond Burr. (The Sleeping Giant refers to a mountain ridge above the garden, not Burr himself.)

To fully appreciate Fiji, take one of the fun and popular short cruises from Nadi to neighboring islands. The Mamanuca Islands can usually be seen from Nadi. Accessible by short boat trips, these beautiful islands offer excellent dives and a number of relaxing resorts.

Cruises depart from Denarau Island west of Nadi town. Separated from the mainland by a mangrove creek, this perfectly flat island is developing into the country's largest tourist destination. In addition to its full-service marina, it has the country's best 18-hole resort golf course and a first-rate tennis center. Half a dozen big beach hotels and a time-share operation already are in residence, and other international resorts are on the way both there and south of Nadi.

From Nadi, you can also take hiking trips into the nearby hills to explore the sugar plantations, the Nausori Highlands and Sabeto Valley (beautiful mountain scenery), the town of Sigatoka (an Indian settlement) and Lautoka, Fiji's second largest city and home to its largest sugar mill.

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