November 12, 2017 by jackjanssenandcarrietrip
Sigatoka Sand Dune National Park
Sigatoka Sand Dunes – A Must Visit Whilst in Fiji
Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park is located on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu. Just west of the mouth of the Sigatoka River along the Coral Coast. This is the second largest river in Fiji. The dunes are the product of fluvial erosion in the coastal hinterland and coastal dune forming processes.
I had to look up fluvial erosion: “the detachment of material of the river bed and the sides. Erosion starts when the flow energy of the water exceeds the resistance of the material of the river bed and banks.”
The dunes have been forming over millions of years as sediments brought down by the Sigatoka River are washed ashore by the surf and blown into dunes by the prevailing winds. This extensive dune system covers an area of 650 hectares and comprises a series of parabolic sand dunes of various ages and activities. The dunes range from 20 to 60 metres (65 to almost 200 feet) tall.
Hiking the Sigatoka Sand Dunes Park
There are two trails through the National Park. The short way is about an hour long. And the long way, about a two-hour walk. The trails lead you through the surrounding vegetation of native forest and grassland. Up and down hills and dunes. Then along the coast before coming back through a Mahogany forest. This forest was planted in the 1960’s to help prevent the dunes from creeping inland, which happens at a rate of about 3 meters per year. Hence, this herbaceous community is now a thriving ecosystem teeming with life.
History of the Sand Dunes Site
Sigatoka Sand Dunes are the location of one of Fiji’s earliest recorded prehistoric sites. Archaeological excavations have uncovered pottery more than 2600 years old and one of the largest burial sites in the Pacific. Evidence of the past is visible throughout the dune system as pottery scatters, stone tools, human remains, and other archaeological relics continue to be uncovered by natural processes. A few of these items are on display in the Visitor’s Centre however relics are best seen at the Fiji National Museum in Suva.
The Sigatoka Sand Dunes was declared Fiji’s first National Park in 1987. It has been shortlisted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A key tourist attraction, it’s also an important source of archaeological artifacts and information for local and foreign institutes.
An Inexpensive-Breathtaking Attraction
The park is open daily from 8am – 5pm and admission is just $10 FJD per person. That’s about $5.00 USD. I’ve hiked both trails but prefer the more challenging two-hour hike. Hiking further on the longer trail gives you the full “dunal experience”!
This is an outdoor activity in a hot, sunny locale. Therefore, the best time to hike is early in the morning or later in the day.
The National Trust of Fiji is responsible for care and control of this park. I have only one suggestion to improve this as a tourist site. The display cases in the visitor centre are foggy. As a result the artifacts are quite difficult to see. The friendly staff and park rangers are very informative and helpful. Trails are clearly marked with signage.
What to Bring /Wear to Sigatoka Sand Dunes
- Bottled Water (Bring your own as beverages may or may not be available for purchase at the Visitors Center. You just never know.)
- Sturdy walking shoes
- a hat and sunglasses
- A UV shirt with SPF protection
Pick up a walking stick along the way. But please don’t take anything from the land or ocean with you! Check out my review of Sigatoka Sand Dunes on TripAdvisor.