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Sabeto/Tifajek Mud Pool and Hot Spring
Sabeto, Viti Levu, Fiji


 
Visiting the mud bath and hot springs was one of the best experiences I had in Fiji. Let me describe the process to you: First you strip down to your bathers in a little open shelter. Then you wander over to a bucket filled with mud and coat yourself all over. As someone who has played on sports fields throughout many a winter, covered in either gritty, gluey or sticky mud, this was an entirely unexpected sensation for me. This mud is silky smooth to the touch, without any earthy odours, and the sensation of spreading it over your body is unusually pleasurable. Don't get too carried away though, as apparently the trick is to spread the mud reasonably thin, so that it doesn't take too long to dry and form a crust. Swimming at Mud Pool and Hot Spring near Sabeto, Fiji Left: One of the buckets of mud      Right: Smeared, dried and ready to enter the mud pool

Once coated, there is about fifteen minutes to spend out in the open air until the mud has had enough time to seep into your skin and dry out on the surface. Then it's time to recycle your mud by slipping into the mud pool to wash it off. The steps are a bit tricky because you can't see your feet and the weight of your body causes you to sink up to your ankles, with the mud squishing up between your toes. The best course of action is to stand on the step below the water line and push off into the pool. You can swim back and forth across this warm pool, which is about 10 metres long and 10 metres wide.

After washing off most of the mud, it's on to the next three hot pools. All of the pools, including the mud pool, are heated from a natural hot spring. The hot spring source is off limits in a little well, because the temperature is a scalding 70 degrees celcius (160 degrees fahrenheit).
I couldn't get a precise answer out of the guides about how hot the water in the pools was, but based on what I know of other hot springs, the water felt like it was in the mid to high 30 degrees celcius (around 100 degrees fahrenheit) by the time it reached the pools. All of the pools are similar in size at around 10-15 metres in length, with enough room to swim half a dozen strokes at a time. The water in the last two pools is quite clear and they both have a concrete floor and walls. Swimming at Mud Pool and Hot Spring near Sabeto, Fiji Above: The slightly turbid second pool      Below: The clear fourth pool Swimming at Mud Pool and Hot Spring near Sabeto, Fiji There are two hot spring businesses operating right next to each other at this location. The experience that I described above is based on visiting the Sabeto Mud Pool Hot Spring, which is the one you will encounter first when driving along the road. Next door is the Tifajek Mud Pool and Hot Spring, which offers a similar experience. Tifajek tends to cater more for the tour groups because its main pool is larger (at around 25 metres long), but it has fewer pools. You can still visit Tifajek if you are not part of a tour group. Both sites are very popular, so I'm sure you'll have a great time regardless of which one you choose - or better still, visit both! The experience at Sabeto Mud Pool Hot Spring felt very personalised, with a cheerful guide who escorts you around and holds onto your cameras to take all of the photos that you otherwise never could, because your hands are covered in mud. For a small extra fee you can also get a massage. I don't know whether it was the mud or just my elevated mood, but I definitely felt lighter after the visit, and possibly even a few years younger.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Unnamed road off Queens Road, directly north of Sabeto Road, 9 km (approx. 15 min drive) north-east of Nadi International Airport
Latitude:-17.718186 Longitude:177.484304
Getting there: The easiest way to get here is by taxi or with a tour company, but here are directions if you are driving yourself. From Nadi, head north along Queens Road. When you see Sabeto Road (roughly pronounced Sam-bay-toe), drive a further 1 km north along Queens Road, over the river and turn right down the unnamed road. There is a sign to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant on the corner. Drive for 4 km along the road, including sections of unsealed road that were passable by 2WD in dry weather when I visited. The hot springs and mud pool are well sign posted, with a car park visible from the road.
Facilities: Toilets, car park, changing shed, gift stalls
Entrance fee: I forget exactly, but it was modestly priced at around FJD$10-$20 per person including a personal guide. Towel hire was extra, so bring your own towel. Massage is an optional extra.
Water temperature: Warm
Water clarity: Murky to cloudy to clear
Under foot: Mud, concrete
Maximum water depth: 1-2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced in the mud pool and the second pool, beginners in the third and fourth pool. If you are an inexperienced swimmer or have young kids, there is a guide on hand to help you in the water.
Prohibitions: No prohibitions specified on site
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water
Opening times: Open during daylight hours
Wheelchair access: There are flat concrete paths linking the pools, but there are steps into each of the pools
Accommodation Options: You can reach the hot spring and mud pool from accommodation in nearby Nadi.
Managing authority: Sabeto hot spring and mud pool
Nearby attractions: Garden of the Sleeping Giant, which you drive past to reach the hot spring, and the Orchid Falls and zip line on Sabeto Road.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the pool.
Change of Conditions:
I am not currently aware of any change of conditions reported at this site by the managing authority, or by swimmers on this website. If you are visiting this swimming spot and have any further updates on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
Comments:
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