When you arrive to Lautoka, you’ll be surprised to learn its the second-biggest city in Fiji because of how charming and quaint it is. Known as “Sugar City” for its huge sugar cane industry, Lautoka, Fiji offers plenty of sweet things to do, like exploring the old Sugar Mill, taking off on an adventurous nature excursion, or relaxing in local hot springs. On a New Zealand cruise to the South Pacific, there are plenty of reasons to take it easy in Lautoka.
If you’re looking to fill a day here, head to the city’s most popular attractions like the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, or venture outside the city limits to the lush rainforest of Koroyanitu National Heritage Park. Of course, Fiji is famous for its beaches, so there’s plenty of sun and sand waiting for you at Natadola Beach or Saweni Beach, just five miles from the city center.
Sugarcane literally put Lautoka on the map. Sugar City got its nickname thanks to the huge sugarcane boom of the early 20th century. While there aren’t any guided tours of the facilities, you can stop by on your own to see the conveyors and mill workers in action.
Nature lovers will come face to face with hundreds of varieties of orchids in the botanical Garden of the Sleeping Giant, which is one of Lautoka’s top things to see. Strike out on your own as you explore the lush gardens that mirror the Fijian rainforest, or enjoy a guided tour, where you’ll learn how the gardens came to be one of the biggest orchid habitats in the world.
This national park is located off the beaten path about six miles from the center of Lautoka. You can hike to the top of Castle Rock and take in the incredible views of the Fijian landscape, or take a slow trail to the Savuoine Falls. Once you’ve arrived, dip in the cool swimming pool caused by the waterfall’s dramatic run off.
Natadola Beach is Lautoka’s most undisturbed by humans, and it shows. It’s a popular spot where the white sand welcomes you to sit and suntan. Many call it Fiji’s best beach. Swimming, picnics, and crystal-clear waters for snorkeling await you when you arrive. Even beginner surfers can learn the waters here.
Lautoka is home to a variety of beach resorts, like the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel and the First Landing Beach Resort, where travelers can admire the accommodations, take a dip in some of the hotel pools, and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Located conveniently near the Garden of the Giants and other attractions, these resorts offer a nice break from exploring the town.
A full submersion in the mud baths and the springs here is a must-do experience while on your Lautoka cruise. After all, the mud and sulfur is rumored to have restorative properties, and the springs are a favorite of the locals. Indulge in this thermal mud spa and wash away any stresses.
Blue Ginger Cafe & Deli
Address: Elizabeth Square (opposite Post Office/ANZ bank), Lautoka, Fiji
Open seven days a week, Blue Ginger brings fresh baked bread and filling sandwiches to the people of Lautoka every single day. The extensive breakfast menu is chock-full of omelettes and diner-style eggs and bacon, while lunch offers comfort foods like hamburgers and fried fish with a Fijian twist.
Chili Tree Cafe
Address: 3 Tukani Street, Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji
More than just a cafe, Chili Tree Cafe is a neighborhood hotspot for sandwiches, fresh baked banana bread and other treats, and savory sandwiches with classic sides like french fries.
The Boatyard Cafe
Address: Vuda Marina, Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji
Waterfront and harbor views are a huge selling point for the Boatyard, along with delicious local flavors and fresh ingredients. Breakfast smoothies and pastries sell out quickly in the mornings, but there’s also a full coffee bar, omelettes your way, and plenty of sandwic varieties available.
Lautoka was noticed by the Europeans as early as the 1760s, but the city didn’t truly come into its own until the boom of the sugarcane industry in the early 20th century. Once sugarcane became the area’s main export, Lautoka went from a little nobody town to the second-biggest city in Fiji. Today, its status as a port city means Lautoka welcomes plenty of trade and tourists to the area. Lautoka is also home to a population of around 50,000 people, including native residents who have been calling the area home for hundreds of years.
The port of Lautoka is mainly used to carry the area’s biggest export, sugarcane, out of the area. It’s a busy port, but not as equipped for cruising as it is for trade. However, the local government continues to add to and improve the port facilities. The best sights are beyond the city center, but Lautoka cruise passengers can enjoy the simplicities of the town while they’re here.
For Lautoka cruise passengers, the best way to explore the area is on foot or by booking an excursion to the area’s natural attractions, where transportation is typically included. There are also taxis available on the island.
The most common shopping in the area is provided by souvenirs shacks and handmade goods from locals. The Lautoka Market is the main shopping market, where vendors and street eats are around every corner. This open-air market is famous for fresh mangos, pineapple, tomatoes, locally sourced fish, and more.
The Fijian dollar is the official currency of Fiji, and you’ll find it’s a good practice to carry cash while traveling on your cruise to Lautoka. Credit cards are hit or miss here. You’re not obligated to tip your taxi driver or restaurant server while you’re in Lautoka, but rounding up to the nearest dollar is greatly appreciated.