The Ultimate Guide to Suva

Nov. 20, 2017, 10:46 a.m.


This harbour city is Fiji’s capital and spread over the South East of Viti Levu, the country’s largest island. Suva City is named after the indigenous district of its locality, as the site of its Central Business District and major centres originally belonged to the district of Suva, part of Rewa Province. It is today one of the South Pacific’s largest and most cosmopolitan hubs. Aside from the Government, Suva is also an educational hub for the Pacific region and provides regional headquarters for many organizations, including the United Nations and European Union in the Pacific. Suva City was built on the waterfront of a peninsula and includes a considerable tract of reclaimed land, with dual frontage of the Suva Harbour and Laucala Bay.


Suva’s mix of modern and colonial architecture can be attributed to its past as a British colony from 1874-1970.

Fiji had been ceded to Great Britain due to the burning of the American Consul’s house on Nukulau Island, located off the coast of Rewa and visible from the foreshore. The Polynesia Company of Melbourne, Australia, offered to pay the debt and in return, was given considerable tracts of land in Suva by Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, a powerful warlord from Bau Island (Rewa’s rivals)- who had claimed to be King of Fiji and had thus, been held accountable by the Americans to make a settlement. The people of Suva village (part of Rewa Province) moved from their settlement at what is now Thurston Gardens, to Lami, where they remain. Their village at Lami was named Suvavou (“new Suva”). Following the acquisition of land by the Polynesian Company, settlers arrived on the steamer, Alhambra in 1870, and by 1880, public land sales were held, which attracted more shiploads of settlers and buyers from Australia. Present day Toorak was named so after one of Melbourne’s most eminent suburbs.

The Polynesian Company indeed played a crucial role in convincing the British administration to relocate the capital from Levuka (on Ovalau Island) to Suva, due to the restrictive landscape of Levuka’s surrounding mountains which made a municipal expansion difficult, and failing sugarcane farming efforts by the Polynesian Company in Suva.

Surveyor General, Lieutenant Colonial F.E Pratt of the Royal Engineers designed the layout of much of the CBD and it wasn’t long before this new capital turned into a fledging township with stores and trading centres and many streets named after colonial officers and leaders. Suva was the new capital by 1882, with its downtown named Victoria Parade, after the reigning British monarch of the time, Queen Victoria, and the nearby parkland named Albert Park, after her husband.

Suva acquired municipal status in 1910 and by 1952, its boundaries had expanded to include Muanikau and Samabula, with the addition of more residential wards later on. 

On October 10, 1970, Fiji gained independence from Great Britain.  Lau Province’s paramount chief, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, became the country’s first Prime Minister.


Economy & Main Industries

Suva has over 7000 registered businesses that range from leading industrial powerhouses, retail, manufacturing, broadcasting, print media, hotels and lodgings to SMEs.

Suva’s major corporate houses include Fijian Holdings, whose portfolio includes cementing plants Basic Industries Limited, Standard Concrete Limited, Pacific Cement Limited and Humes Industries, as well as the RB Patel supermarket chain, Fiji Television Limited, Merchant Finances, Fijian Holdings Properties, FHL Stockbrokers Limited, South Sea Cruises, Blue Lagoon Cruises, Life Cinema Limited, FHL Fund Management Limited and Fijian Holdings Unit Trust.

As a commercial hub, Suva is home to the Reserve Bank of Fiji and to the national headquarters of Westpac, Australia New Zealand (ANZ), Bank of Baroda, Bank of the South Pacific (BSP), BRED Bank, the Fiji Development Bank and Home Finance Limited.

All major media companies have their headquarters here, including Fiji Television Limited, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation and Mai TV. The Fiji Times Limited, Sun (Fiji) News Limited, Cover Story Limited (Mai Life, Travel Fiji & Pacific, Style and Fiji Time magazines), Front Page Limited (Islands Business magazine), FriiStyle Marketing (Entrepreneur magazine) and other publications are also based in Suva, making this the centre of local media production.

In terms of shipping, Port of Suva is the country’s largest and busiest container and general port, as a key maritime gateway to the capital city, boosting Fiji’s accessibility to major shipping lanes from the USA and Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The Kings Wharf started in 1912 as a wooden structure that serviced Fijian and the Pacific region for nearly 50 years, before a major renovation in 1961 and further technological advancements and redesigns in 1982, to meet the evolving needs of the shipping industry.

While the highest rate of real estate activity is concentrated in Suva, the city is also the site of a growing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, given the availability of world-class ICT infrastructure. Lyndhurt Limited has indicated plans to develop an international business park at the Kalabu Tax Free Zone, home to the Mindpearl Call Centre that opened in 2016 with 1,200 employees. The Fijian Government has also positioned the country as an attractive location for business process outsourcing (BPO) operation, with over 3,000 direct jobs noted in 2016 through the outsourcing operations of the ANZ Suva Hub, Centrecom, Packleader and Mindpearl, and more anticipated once Lyndhurst and the Fijian Government’s manufacturing and services zone are fully operational in the next few years, with a goal of creating 40,000-50,000 direct jobs as part of a long term vision in the ICT and other value-adding sectors.

Key Areas of Development

The urban area of Nasinu is the centre of Suva’s largest population and one of the fastest growing areas in Fiji. Construction of its new Laqere Market began in August 2017, with aims of it being a modern and functional hub of Nasinu’s economic activity. The Government has confirmed plans for a new Valelevu Stadium and swimming pool that would cater to this flourishing area.

Nakasi is also a quickly growing area with a large residential inventory and expanding population prompting commercial developments.  A massive $750 million project titled Nakasi Modern Village was launched in mid-2017, covering 645-acres at Nakasi’s Sauniwaqa subdivision. The Korean-financed mix-use venture will be underway over a 15-year period and expected to solidify Nakasi into a major hub with designated areas for tourism development and supporting investments such as a cultural centre, museum, industrial parks and open spaces, primary and secondary and tertiary-level educational facilities and sites for public administration and services, a fire station and hospital. In early 2017, the new Rups Big Bear Complex opened in Nakasi and quickly positioned itself as a point of convenience with a cinema, pharmacy, bank, restaurants and other businesses, to cater to the area’s populace. Nearby, the privately-developed Vitivou Estates at Davuilevu are also underway and due to add to the area’s commercial and residential inventory, particularly as a key accommodation hub for business travellers commuting from Nausori Airport, across the Rewa River. 

Suva’s CBD is also set for a further commercial development with the construction of a multi-million-dollar tourism and retail centre by Carpenters Properties Limited covering 10 acres on the waterfront. The first phase is due for completion in 2019 and includes the construction of a hotel, commercial and retail centres to add to Suva’s recreational inventory, with plans also underway for townhouses, apartments units, eateries, supermarkets, a gymnasium and spa and massive retail centre. Underway nearby is the 19-storey WG Friendship Plaza along McGregor Rd, which includes office units, residential apartments, a retail centre, hotel and rooftop garden by Chinese investors.

Weather, Climate & Geography

Fiji’s wet seasons runs from November to April and Suva is particularly known for a prominent level of rainfall. As part of the South-Eastern part, it generally gets a monthly total rainfall of 150mm during the dry season (May-October) and 400mm during the wettest months, with these parts of the Fiji Islands receiving rain on about six days out of ten for the dry season and eight of ten during the wet season, according to the Fiji Meteorological Centre.

Suva is spread over a peninsula between Suva Harbour and Laucala Bay, and almost entirely surrounded by water. Stretching from the leafy township of Lami to its West until Nausori to its East, across the Rewa River, Fiji’s widest river. Much of Suva’s coastline is dotted by mangroves, with its main beach running along Suva Point. Its geography includes the rainforests of Colo-i-Suva to its North, and a generally hilly topography at residentials areas such as Tamavua, Namadi Heights, Domain, Toorak and Cunningham.

Population & Demographics

Suva is the largest urban area in the Pacific, outside Australia and New Zealand, and holds court as the region’s most cosmopolitan centre in the South Pacific. Its wards include the CBD, Tamavua, Cunningham, Nabua, Samabula and Muanikau, with the greater Suva area home to about 220,000 residents.

Entertainment Attractions

As a cosmopolitan and sporting hub, Suva provides many recreational activities. History enthusiasts and researchers will enjoy the extensive collection of archaeological material  and cultural objects housed at the Fiji Museum, located at Thurstan Gardens, the original site of Suvavou village. The museum library is home to a visual collection of historic photographs and key writings by early European settlers and missionaries. 

The Colo-i-Suva forest is also a popular hangout for its natural swimming pools and tracks, home to the Waisila Creek, and abundance of birdlife. My Suva Picnic Park along the waterfront of Queen Elizabeth Drive is also favourite day retreat for picnics and events. Key retail and eatery hubs include MHCC and TappooCity in Suva’s central business district and Damodar City in the Laucala Bay area. 

The Grand Pacific Hotel, Holiday Inn and Tanoa Plaza offer a sophisticated atmosphere for visitors, while the city nightlife is centred in the CBD, with Traps Bar, O’Reilly’s, Onyx and Chill On Carnarvon part of a lineup of trendy bars and clubs.

The ANZ Stadium and Damodar Aquatic Centre at Laucala Bay are key athletic centres, with a host of surrounding gymnasiums. 

Schools & Educational Institutions

Suva is home to the main campus of the University of the South Pacific and the Fiji National University. There is a large inventory of public and private preschools and primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. 

The oldest schools include Marist Primary School (formerly known as St.Colombus) and Suva Grammar School, while its most renowned private school is International School Suva. The University of the South Pacific is home to the Oceania Arts Centre,a  regional hub of Pacific arts, culture and studies, with a performing arts unit. There is also the Vou Dance School, which promotes live contemporary Pacific-inspired dance and music performances. The Fiji Maritime Academy is located nearby at Laucala Bay.


Fiji’s largest hospital, the Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital, is located near the Suva CBD, as well as the country and the Pacific region’s largest, private health facility, MIOT Pacific. Formerly known as Suva Private Hospital, it offers the city’s most advanced cardiac and accident emergency centre.

Other notable healthcare includes Epworth Clinic, Nasese Medical Care, the USP Health & Wellness Centre, Samabula Health Centre, Raiwaqa Health Centre, Tamavua Hospital and PJ Twomey Hospital, which caters to leprosy and tuberculosis patients.

Notable oral health services can be found at Daily Care Dental, Stewart Street Dental and The Smile Clinic Ltd amongst other dentists.

Emergency Services

Police Emergency-917; Ambulance-911; Crime Stoppers 919 are the key contact numbers for emergencies.

St John International has a local Suva base with an ambulance fleet service along Amy St that can be contacted on 3302584 or 3301439. They also provide First Aid services at events and provide community outreach [programs and emergency medical training.

For emergency medical air services, there is the HELIPRO Fiji Air Ambulance at which can be contacted on 679-7707770.

Key Transport Services

Public buses and taxis are a major mode of transport for Suva residents, with a large network of routes accommodated by most bus companies.

For inter-city travel, there is Pacific Transport Limited (679 330 4366), Sun Beam Transport (679 6662822), Sunset Express (679 332 2811).

Tourist Transport Fiji (679 672 3311), Rosie Tours (679 6722 755) and Pacific Destinations (679 330 4366) all operate a wide vehicle and route network with coaches, private transfers and rental cars to and from Suva.

Government Authorities

Home to the seat of governance, most ministerial headquarters and other government authorities are located in Suva. 

A directory of their addresses and contact details is available on  the Fijian Government portal, Fiji’s Parliament is located within Government Buildings, in Suva’s CBD. This also houses the Office of the Prime Minister at its new wing and other departments. The Real Estate Agents Licensing Board ( is at at Suite 3 of Level 1, Narsey’s Building, CBD. 

Types of Properties

Like other cities around the world, Suva has varying properties for low to medium and higher-income earners. An urban drift from rural and maritime areas to Suva and a housing demand outweighed by supply has put pressure on an already high density in the Greater Suva Area. 

Common property types include apartments and flats, houses, buildings of rental units by the Public Rental Board and poorly-constructed structures common within informal settlements. 

Eminent neighbourhoods include Muanikau and Domain, Princess Rd, Namadi Heights and Ragg Street,  Nasese and Suva Point, while middle-to-lower-income areas include Cunningham, Tamavua and informal settlements along the Tamavua River, Jittu Estate and Omkar. Laucala Bay, Laucala Beach, Nakasi, Valelevu and Nasinu provide some of Suva's largest residential inventory, with a mix of varying property types, including commercial. 

Suva has the highest rate of real estate activity, with real estate services in abundance from different Suva realtors and realty firms.

There is also an abundance of properties in nearby Nausori and the small municipality of Lami, located at the gatway to the capital city.