Lautoka, Fiji

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Lautoka is not in a logical position to be one of Fiji’s busiest ports. Ports are usually found in bays or harbors; here it's just the open Bligh Water (yes, that Bligh, who, after his crew mutinied in Tahiti, proceeded to pull off one of the greatest sailing feats in history, which included not letting his remaining men get turned into the Fijian daily special).

Lautoka has a nice, fading colonial vibe with a 100-year-old sugar mill still in operation. The juxtaposition of Muslim mosques and Hindu temples in town, though, captures recent Fiji history in a nutshell. Indo-Fijians, many of whose ancestors had been brought over from India by the British in the 19th century as indentured laborers, eventually amassed enough power to begin buying up local stores and land. When the native Fijians noticed the imbalance, it led to a coup, a countercoup and, in 2006, a counter-countercoup. (Don’t fret: Visitors will not notice a thing. Democratic elections have resumed and all’s well.)

Only 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Lautoka’s hustle and bustle is the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park. In an almost magical exception to what usually goes on in the South Pacific, this park contains a fully protected, unlogged cloud forest. Hike to the mountaintop and enjoy endless blue-green views of all those Fijian islands the great European explorers missed from fear of headhunters and cannibals.

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