I have to thank Tripadvisor reviewers who advised going early in the day. We (husband, teen-aged daughter and I) went as soon as the site opened in the morning. It was very hot and humid, but I'm sure it didn't get any cooler later!
The long walk is work, and not advisable for very small children or anyone with mobility issues. It's a walk for the fit. I read that the dunes range from 20-60 m tall. There's a fair amount of climbing up steep grade. The sand is very soft and we sank in, some places up to our ankles (true even for our very light-weight daughter). Going uphill, we'd slide back back down a little with every upward step. It helps to go fast and keep up momentum! My husband always wears shoes, but our daughter and I found it a lot easier to get traction walking barefoot. We didn't encounter anything sharp or nasty in the sand. The whole track was really very litter-free and clean.
We started out on a firm trail through the forest (a lovely stretch with interesting insects, spiders and birds), and then were hit by the heat coming into the open sunshine. A few steps later we were "hit" by the amazing view. The dune area is startlingly vast-- so much sand washed down by the river and thrown up by the sea! We could see the stable dunes, and the parabolic dunes in flux. It's frankly amazing to see vegetation taking hold in the hot dry sand of still-shifting dunes.
We didn't see anyone else on the trails or beach while we were there. We did see some birds, and heard a lot more than we saw.
The view on hitting the beach is again breathtaking!
There's a break in the reef where the river enters the sea, and there are dangerous currents in the area. A sign also warns of sharks, so we enjoyed the curls and crashing waves from a distance (barely got our toes wet). It's stunningly beautiful and it feels very raw and wild and isolated.
It's also fascinating to think of the archeological digs in the area and how they've revealed evidence of the first settlers to Fiji, including human remains, stone tools, and pottery linking the early settlers to New Caledonia. Our time in Fiji was limited, so we didn't get to the Fiji Museum in Suva where the artifacts are displayed. It would have been nice if there were more of them on site, but I understand the Dunes are rather out of the way, and more people will get to see the artifacts where they are.
The last stretch of the walk was back through the forest. It was beautiful, but still hot. The shade was countered by the stifling of any breeze.
While it's easy to describe the Dunes walk, it's difficult to give it a numerical rating. It's definitely not for everyone. There are no bathrooms along the way, and the only place to buy refreshments is at the center where you start (and finish) your walk. Bring insect repellent if you go; our daughter's legs got horribly chewed up by some sort of unseen virulent critters (two weeks later the bites are still visible).
If you're a fit nature-lover able to deal with a little discomfort, you'll find yourself well rewarded by visiting this historically significant, geologically fascinating, and wildly beautiful area.
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