While we will admit to being fans of visiting botanical gardens anywhere in the world, Fiji’s Garden of the Sleeping Giant is one that is truly special. Yes, really. Even non-flower lovers and non-botanical garden enthusiasts – and there was one among us – should put this on their Fiji list. Here, you can easily spend a number of hours wandering past landscaped lawns, around lily ponds with trickling fountains and croaking frogs, and along canopy-covered boardwalks and paths winding through the rainforest, all the while gawking at over 2,000 varieties of Asian orchids and Cattelya hybrids. It is as visually stunning as it sounds. Plus, it changes with the seasons. Granted, some may note it’s not meticulous in maintenance, but hey we’re in Fiji not Switzerland here. It’s glorious in its lush abundance.
Wandering the lush tropical paths through Fiji’s Garden of the Sleeping Giant.
Set in the verdant green foothills of the Nausori Highlands and at the feet of Mt. Batilamu (the Sleeping Giant in Koroyanitu National Heritage Park) 20 minutes drive north of Nadi, the garden was once owned by Raymond Burr – a Canadian-born actor who made his mark playing Perry Mason, Ironside, and other film and television roles.
Burr loved orchids. And he loved Fiji, which he referred to as his second home.
Garden of the Sleeping Giant brief history
In 1965, Burr purchased Naitauba, a private island in the Lau group off the northeast coast of Fiji’s main isle of Viti Levu. He also bought and meticulously landscaped a South Seas-style plantation house just 20 minutes by road north from the Nadi airport. But it was not until 1977 that he acquired and opened a 20-hectare (50-acre) nursery to hybridize orchids after looking for the best possible climate for them to flourish. That is what is now known as the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. With his partner, Robert Benevides, Burr hybridized an estimated 1,500 orchid varieties before leaving Fiji in 1983. He even named one of the orchids for Barbara Hale, the actress who played his secretary, Della Street, in the Perry Mason series.
HITT Tip: While you can easily enjoy the gardens on your own be sure to avail yourself, at no additional cost, of a short, guided tour. The very friendly Fijian guides will regale you with a brief description of the property and a little history of how this mountain valley was transformed into the fantasy garden it is today, and then walk you through the grounds and put names (Spider, Dancing Lady, Octopus, Bee, Lady’s Nail Polish, etc.) and even stories to the hundreds upon hundreds of colorful and weirdly shaped floral faces you’ll discover. You’ll never imagine some of these are orchids. Have your camera ready!
Wandering along canopy-covered boardwalks and paths winding through rainforest, all the while gawking at over 2,000 varieties of Asian orchids and Cattelya hybrids is an amazing experience.
The gardens, with dozens if not hundreds of varieties (depending on who you listen to), are open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. Entry fee is FJD $16 (USD $8.50) per adult, $8 (USD $4.25) for children 6-15 years, and $40 (USD $21) for an entire family (including minor children). gardenofsleepinggiant.com
HITT Tip: Be sure to plan enough time to be able to comfortably enjoy a relaxing sit on the building’s covered patio at the main entrance with a complimentary glass of cooling tropical fresh-squeezed juice.
Flowering lilies add wonderful splashes of color in the ponds of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant in Fiji.
Heads up! This information on the Garden of the Sleeping Giant in Fiji was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.
Winner of a Silver Medal from the North American Travel Journalists Association for travel writing excellence in both 2018 and 2019, Michael has authored more than 16 books and penned many hundreds of feature articles over the years. His travels have taken him to all seven continents. He is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA), the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), and the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).