I never thought I’d be jealous of coral, but Nick tells me the squishy guy I am looking at has five stomachs with five mouths, all of which need to be fed. What a life! And with a name like Elegance Coral, I’m seeing no negatives to living this kind of marine life.
We’re standing in the coral display at KULA Wild Adventure Park on Fiji’s Coral Coast, just next door to the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, and Nick Felstead, KULA marketing manager and self-confessed spider fanatic, is giving us the lowdown on the various fish and marine life.
Bright shades of pink, purple, green, blue and yellow spread out across the aquariums and fish of all shapes and sizes swim about, each serving their own specific purpose within the ecosystem.
As stunning as the display is, it serves a higher purpose than to just satisfy tourist eyeballs.
Nick tells us this park is as much for the locals as it is the tourists – if not more.
“We get local school groups to come through and some of the kids say things like ‘why did you paint the fish?’ because they’ve never seen fish like this; they’ve only seen them dead on their plate,” he says.
“This is about showing them what amazing things we have in the ocean here in Fiji, and how important it is that we preserve them.”
The educational aspect spans the whole breadth of the 28-acre property.
“Fijians are typically terrified of animals like lizards and snakes, so bringing the locals through here helps teach them not to be afraid of hurt them,” Nick says as I cuddle up to a tiny python.
If you’re around the turtle pool at 11am, 1pm or 3.30pm, you’ll also get to help the park rangers feed the baby turtles which is part of the turtle breeding program.
As its name suggests, there is more than just wildlife at this adventure park. The 300m zipline is an absolute must. It’s a quick 65-seconds that takes you for a whirlwind tour through the forest canopy, around trees and down to the river bed.
The patented system can turn 360 degrees meaning you get a G-force enhanced the thrill as you swoop through the trees.
If it’s a thrill you’re after, the Splash Mountain Jungle Water Slide, which weaves through the trees, should be high on your priority list. And if you’re really up for a challenge, the record for the most consecutive slides in one day is 52, so spend the day going up down the 110m slide and you may just leave a living legend.
There really is so much to do here. The Coral Coast is great for holidays with kids, too. If you’re a parent and want to palm the kids off for a few hours, then the Ranger for a Day program is available to 7-12-year-olds and it is way cooler than hanging with Mum and Dad.
From 9am-3pm, kids can prepare the animals’ food, feed koalas and birds, plant trees and spend time with the marine scientists who share their knowledge of all things marine life. Participants also get to take part in iguana research, checking their microchips under the scanner and making sure the incubated eggs are looked after.
“This is for the kids who are a bit too old for the kids clubs at the resorts, but still want a really fun day out,” Nick says.
Even if you’re not doing the ranger program, it’s hard not to spend a whole day here, plus once you get a little peckish like our dear friend Elegance Coral, then you can feed your one mouth at the Hawksbill Café or Splash Café for lunch, a juice, coffee or a Fiji Bitter.
KULA opened in the 80s as a bird park and became KULA Eco Park in 1997 before a rebrand in 2015 to KULA Wild Adventure Park. It’s directly next door to the Outrigger Resort, there’s no shortage of things to do in Fiji but no matter where you’re staying on the Coral Coast, definitely make sure KULA is on your itinerary.