Fiji's Safari Lodge

This ecoadventure operation offers plenty to do in the 'sleepy' South Pacific.

By: Allen Salkin

VITI LEVU, Fiji Fiji’s growing soft-adventure options are fast altering the destination’s old reputation as a place fit only for beach-snoozing and colorful-cocktail-sipping. One dependable and professionally run adventure operation is perched on the north coast of Viti Levu, the “main” island of Fiji where most clients will arrive on international flights.

Safari Lodge offers fishing, sea kayaking and sailing expeditions for all budgets. Director Warren Francis is an engaging sandy-haired fellow eager to show visitors the humble magic of the Fijian people his tours employ.

“We have spent the last 10 years learning about their culture,” Francis said, “and now we wish to introduce others into the natural Fijian way of life.”

A two-hour drive from the airport in Nadi, Safari Lodge offers clients who opt for overnight adventures the choice of staying in its own basic Fijian bures (bungalows), or in nearby more luxurious accommodations.

The three- and seven-day fishing trips show the kind of non-destructive tourism Safari Lodge is selling. On each day of the trips, different local reefs are visited, and each reef is fished only once or twice a month. That way, there is no danger of depleting local fish stocks or engendering ill will among local villagers.

Trips set out from the lodge’s Ellington Wharf and include two-hour lunch breaks with food supplied by the lodge’s own Coconut Cafe.

The company uses three different types of boats, depending on the type of fishing clients chose. For big-game fishing, they have a Bertrum 21-foot craft, powered by a 150-horsepower engine and a 30-horsepower auxiliary engine.

Each fishing day starts around 9 a.m. and includes a two-hour lunch, usually on a local beach where snorkeling or napping is available. The seven-day trip includes two days of accommodations and fishing at Viti Levu Bay Eco-Tourism Resort, a short jaunt along the “Sunshine Coast.” On the three- and seven-day trips, clients can choose from a variety of fishing styles, including hand-line, sport and game fishing.

Prices for 2004 are $1,241 for the seven-day trip, which includes airport pickup, accommodation, lunches and all equipment; $540 for the three-day trip (no air transport); and between $56 and $223 for one-day trips. Agents receive 15 percent commission.