We’ve all been there. Sitting around an airport on the brink of tears from boredom in between flights especially if it’s a hole like LAX International or a domestic air terminal in the middle of nowhere with a broken vending machine and 3 plastic seats bolted to the floor (because they tend to disappear!). With Fiji (Nadi) being “thrown-in” in many RTW issued tickets these days or issued as a connection with cheaper flights via the Pacific, a long layover in Nadi can be painful.
But that may be a thing of the past. With it’s international terminal undergoing major renovations, the new departure lounge can make a 3-hour wait pleasantly bearable. For a connection time longer than 5 hours, there’s always been an option to venture beyond the airport. Long layovers can be a great way to ‘do’ another city/country on your list and I’ve on a number of occasions opted for the longer connection through Kuala Lumpur and Singapore just to roam around the cities for a day. Nadi though is no fancy city and neither cheap especially for the budget traveller. Most travellers venturing out of the airport complex opt for a day room at one of the many resorts in Nadi for a swim in the pool and bit of sleep.
But if you’re like me and being holed up in a hotel room is not your thing and you’d rather be out exploring and hanging out with the locals then you might want to check out the nearby mud pools. On the foothills of the Sabeto mountain range, Tifajek Mud Pool and Hot Spring offers natural therapeutic treatments through mud baths and natural thermal pools.
Though only a 15-minute drive from the international airport, turning off from the highway onto a dirt road, you’re immediately away from the brochures and into the real Fiji rural area. Through sugarcane fields and farmsteads, you’ll pass by houses catching a glimpse of daily Fijian lives in rural areas. Tifajek Mud Pool and Hot Spring is a small family owned and community based business employing local village women enabling them to earn livelihoods for their families through the business.
Apart from the mud and thermal therapy, traditional body massages are also available. You may be able to participate in a traditional kava ceremony depending on the time of the day you arrive and you’ll find a selection of local products and handicrafts to browse through.
There are shower facilities available on the premises. Be mindful though, the facilities on the premises are very basic which only adds to helping the business retain their authenticity. The best time to visit is probably late afternoon when you’ll miss the hoards of tourists. The thermal pools would be a delight through the winter months from May – August.
Taxi – A taxi ride will cost you about $25 – $30 FJD dollars from the airport (one-way). Be mindful of your return trip back to the airport. You may want to negotiate a return fare with your driver as taxis might not be readily be available at a time you are ready to return.
Tours – There are a number of tour companies that offer 1/2 a day tour to the mud pool with a few other inclusions. Tourist Transport Fiji (TTF) offer daily morning tours including pickups from hotels. They are also located in the arrivals concourse of the Nadi Airport. Contact them prior to arriving – they may be able to arrange you a pickup from the airport if not a tailored a package. Web: http://www.touristtransportfiji.com/discover-suva
Local Buses – Try if you must and only if you have plenty of time! Walk out of the airport complex onto to the main Highway for the nearest bus stop. You’ll be wanting the Sabeto bus which goes down Wailoko Road past Tifajek. Buses are not reliable in Fiji so don’t risk it if you have a flight to catch.
Prices valid as of 3/12/16 on their reception booth.
There is a lot more to do in Sabeto than just the mudpools. There is the Garden of Sleeping Giants for the flora and fauna lovers, Aviva Farms which offer horseback riding and you could visit Rise Beyond The Reef and see the fantastic work they do with local crafts.
Visiting Sabeto may not be the Fiji from your travel brochures but it’s as real and simple as Fiji gets. Tifajek Mud Pool and Hot Spring is no luxury resort spa but for a fraction of the cost, your skin will be tingling and smiling through your pores with plenty of Fijian goodness! What better way to treat your travel weary body, rejuvenating it for the next leg of your journey while you get to go away knowing that you’ve directly contributed to the livelihood of a Fijian family.
Where is Shyamni? was invited to the launch of the new thermal pool by MDF Fiji (Market Development Facility). MDF has partnered with Tifajek to upgrade it’s existing pool facilities as well as improving the livelihoods of the surrounding community particularly women. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.