By Leila Parina
Fiji is a well-renowned tourist destination filled with clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, amazing culinary delights, a rich culture, and the friendliest smiles from the local citizens. All these make it an exceptional destination for studying. With the school year kicking off, the country has welcomed many students from across the Pacific for the new school year.
There are many tips and tricks all over the internet as to “things to do in Suva”. This guide is for students by students, where we share some of Suva’s best-kept secrets.
As students, the weight of assignment deadlines, class schedules, crowded hostel arrangements, and stress can affect cooking options. Sometimes you just want to get a meal somewhere nice and call it a night, or a quick bite and then head of to class. Luckily, there are many amazing food and dining out options in Suva.
A popular favourite is the regular burger or barbeque or food stands found among many streets in Suva. They serve burgers, sub sandwiches, kebabs and a full meal that includes cassava or taro with salads and a choice of meats, including lamb or chicken, curries, rotis’ and chicken and chips. You can get a good bite for $5 to $15. Food stands can be found stationed across USP and keep an eye out for the food trucks that can be parked at town or near the seawall. They’re a little pricier, however the food is delicious and the meals make for great social media posts.
Another fun way to enjoy a variety of Fiji’s cuisine is to visit market days. Market Days host a variety of stalls that sell food and various goods such as clothing, local handicrafts, jewellery, arts and craft. The highlight is the variety of food options ranging from local Fijian, Pasifika recipes, Indian, Asian, Western style, and baked desert goods Student favourites include lovo packs, Fekei, roti wraps, sushi, spring rolls, fish, and barbeque lamb or chicken packs, kebabs, and a brownie or pineapple slice. The ROC City Market Day and Garden City Market Days run once a month and the USP Market Day runs for a whole week, once a month.
Another option is to visit food courts such as the Damodar City food court, Tappoos, FNPF plaza, and Harbour Centre food court. And it is also a good idea to walk into smaller eateries as they also have a lot to offer and can be accessible on a budget.
What can a student do to entertain themselves in Suva? Apart from the usual night out at the clubs or a movie date, there is a lot of fun that students can have when they just need a break from studying or the confines of their room.
A picnic or swimming excursion is a fun option. Visit the Colo-I-Suva Forest Park and enjoy the cool natural waters on a hot sunny day. The forest greenery is lush and pleasing to look at and there are spots to sit and enjoy a meal, so grab some friends, pack a snack or lunch box and take a taxi or the bus up for a fun day at the waterfalls.
Other swimming spots, apart from the pools at the campuses, include the Damodar Olympic Pool (currently closed for renovation) and the Suva Olympic pool. There’s also a small pool on USP campus. These places are great to walk into and cool off in the Suva heat. The entry fees are small and apart from carnival and competition days, they are generally open to the public.
My Suva Park is a designated recreational park in Nasese that is open to the public and hosts many functions. There are park benches and bures that can be used to accommodate friends and family who want to have a picnic day out, or just somewhere to sit and eat and take in the sea breeze.
Indoor activities can be found at Fatties Kava and Billiards. Opposite USP campus on Varani Street and located below the famous Fatties convenience store, the billiard centre popular among students. They also have other smaller games, kava, and a large TV that is used to screen sports matches. It gets full when there is a popular match on or in the evenings, when the working crowd and residents drop by for a bowl. A tip to enjoying the facilities in less crowded environment is to go on Sunday afternoons or weekday mornings (when you have no classes of course!)
Close to campus, Damodar and Village 6 movie theatres screen the latest blockbuster hits. Look out for specials or discounts on tickets, which are regularly offered.
Another fun thing to do is to watch popular sporting matches. Fiji is a rugby-crazy country and the Vodafone Arena and HSBC Stadium host local and international matches where the banter and rivalry between opposing supporters is sometimes as lively as the match itself. You can also get a live screening of most international matches at local bars, kava bars, or entertainment centres if you do not have a TV to watch at your residence.
Sometimes nightclubs, restaurants, entertainment centres, or the Suva City Council host concerts, festivals or themed parties that are much-needed stress relievers. There is always something happening in Suva so it is a good idea to keep in the loop by following social media pages of Fiji Traveller, the Suva City Council or popular entertainment houses to get the latest information.
Sometimes, it is good to do as the tourists do and go sightseeing, because once you get home and are asked if you’ve visited popular spots in Fiji, you should be saying YES! In Suva you can’t go wrong with a walk through Thurston Garden (also a popular picnic spot), a gallery date at the Fiji Museum, exercise at the Albert Park, or just get on a bus and go on a ride all through the city. A must do for many students is to conquer Mt Korobaba, Suva’s highest peak. The climb can be slippery and is about three hours up and back down. It can be tiresome for some, but the view from the top is worth it.
Buses also travel from the Suva Bus Stand to Pacific Harbour, where you can use the beach for a very small entry fee.
Visiting other campuses is also a form of sightseeing. The USP and FNU campuses boast historic and beautiful architecture, and the grounds are well maintained with flower gardens, beautiful lawns, and lush trees. You can also make new friends while on a campus tour.
Suva is a multi-cultural thriving city and there is a lot to explore. Don’t just confine yourself to your circle or what you know. A great tip is to go local, and enjoy what Fijian culture has to offer. Make friends with local company where you can learn more and get great tips to enjoying your stay.
Leila Parina is a Papua New Guinean journalism student at USP’s Laucala campus.