From Suva or Pacific Harbor Whitewater rafting: a great activity to discover wild inland Fiji! Went with Rivers Fiji on their Upper Navua river trip. Full day from Pacific Harbor with a 45 minute bus ride to and from Suva. Who would imagine white water in Fiji, and kilometers of steep-sided narrow canyons? Rivers Fiji is not only letting folks discover this hidden treasure in the tropics, but they are actively involved in preserving the natural integrity of the upper Navua watershed from the extensive logging being done in that region (Fiji's only privately held lease used for conservation, chosen by the get to represent Fiji in RAMSAR, an international wetlands conservation convention). It's a beautiful, entire day's worth of safe, fun rafting with a sandwich bar lunch set up right at the swimming hole! Nice to know that this company funded a new school in Namosi Valley, support two villages, and 15 different land owning clans.
Discover Fiji Tours. What a great way to discover inland Fiji! This tour combines river canoeing on the beautiful lower Navua river + a Fijian village tour including kava ceremony, lovo lunch, dancing, arts & crafts) + Magic Waterfalls + leisurely bamboo rafting (Bili bili). An international award winner professionally organized from A to Z with a smile! Not to be missed. Lionel, the creator of this company, is not only introducing visitors to the Fijian culture and inland beauty, but uses the proceeds to rebuild and repopulate abandoned villages, bringing people back from the cities to their heritage. We visited the 4th village to be rebuilt. Direct booking and arranging your own transport, affords a great price. Several cruisers went to the tour after we recommended it to them … they all thanked us for the great tour they got! Don't miss it!
The Cave Tour with Adventures In Paradise. Nice day trip too (10am-4pm) from the Coral Coast. That cave is really impressive. The kava ceremony was the usual thing and the bamboo rafting was a bit short. They also have a waterfall tour.
Beqa (Beng-gah) Lagoon We anchored on the west side between Rukua village and the resort, between two long arms of reef, in 25-30ft, mostly sand with isolated coral heads. The village is very neat, with concrete walkways lined with flowers and ornamentals. Rukua is more traditional in custom: women should wear sulus (long skirts); hats and backpacks should be hand carried, not worn. Sunglasses are OK, but it is polite to remove when talking to someone. Made sevusevu with the Chief and family. The son guided us to the small waterfall (40 minute walk with some nice views of the sea). Small pool for bathing, but it's refreshing to stand under the falling water. Delicious mandarins and oranges were in season
Beqa Lagoon Resort an older resort, it is constantly being renovated. There are many, many moss-covered stone sculptures throughout the grounds, especially around the Lily Pond bungalows, which have individual ornately inlaid doors and talisman stone carvings. Added with the lush vegetation, they give a feeling as if you have discovered a lost archeological village. There is a new tastefully designed swimming and reflection pool and patio; the perfect ambiance to enjoy a sunset cocktail, and fine dining in the covered restaurant. The dessert, Poire Belle Helene- exquisite! Mark, the new manager has many great stories from his years in the hotel business in Bali, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
The dive center on site is run by the resort, and has built a reputation as a center for serious divers. Many dive clubs and shops from the US book group dive and accommodation packages, here, and many are repeats. They have 3 large and comfortable dive boats that take divers, morning and sometimes afternoons. We dove 2 sites out by the pass next to Yanuca island: Japanese Fishing Wreck and Three Sisters. The wreck had some good life, especially on the mast and railings. Both sites feature coral bommies rising from 18-24m of water to within 5-8m from the surface. We circled round and round them and at each level closer to the surface, it got more and more vibrant and colorful. There are giant sea fans and soft corals of pastel and earthy colors, and on top, it glitters with hundreds of impossibly brilliant petite tropical fish. There are also more than 25 dive sites on the reefs around Beqa lagoon with abundant soft and hard corals, gorgonians, and exotic reef fish.
Beqa is famous for dives where BIG sharks are fed. The dive centers that make these shark feeding dives are located in Pacific Harbor on Viti Levu, which is within the same barrier reef system, thus fairly protected waters, and a reasonable boat ride to the dive sites. We ourselves fed reef sharks in the Maldives, and have seen a number of reef shark feedings, but to date, we have never seen such large sharks fed, especially Bull sharks. Each center that feeds does so at it's specific reef, as sharks are creatures of habit, and have established a report with the divers they know and trust. (and vice versa!) A $10 Park fee per person per trip goes to the Beqa villages with rights to these sites (charged by the Dive Center when you pay). We dived with two operations on their shark dive, and found the format to be slightly different at each. Each has roomy, well-equipped, covered, high-speed dive boats, and many safety divers for the feeding. This is one of the best places in the world to see big sharks, do not miss the opportunity!
Beqa Adventure Divers is perhaps the most well known for their Big Fish Encounter. The Fijian divers have been nourishing these sharks for 7 years; Manasa and buddies each have their “pet” Bulls that feed directly from their hands only. This exhilarating dive is very well thought out and organized from both safety, and theatrical, standpoints. The first dive was a multi-level: Bulls at 30m, white-tip lagoon and gray sharks at 10m, and black -tips at the safety stop! And, at all levels, big crazy trevallys, snappers, and dozens of other schooling opportunists. Maximum excitement the dive minute! The 2nd dive is done entirely at 18m, up-close-and-personal with the Bulls! If you are very lucky, Scarface, 6 m tiger shark will show up!! They also work closely with the scientific community doing shark research, providing behavioral studies about these illusive creatures. We also did two reef dives with Andrew, the manager, and David, dive guide on some beautiful bommies rising like seamounts festooned with soft corals and gorgonians. An added bonus at the second site was a wreck at 30m.
Aqua Trek-Beqa is located in the Pearl Resort. The first feeding dive starts at 24m. The sharks are not hand fed, but feed on their own from the copious amounts of fish parts that are doled out. Sometimes sharks are less timid to eat if the food is not held and you can see more competitive ripping and tearing. On the other hand, visibility can diminish from all the fish stirring up the bottom. The second half of the dive, you ascend the reef and can circle around viewing the coral and the deep drop-off. The second dive was 18m and the sharks came much, much closer. We could see the small yellow pilot fish leading the bull, and the pimples on his nose!! There were also some huge nurse sharks, which are less inhibited to chow down. As we ascended to the safety line at the end of the dive, one bag of fish had slipped into the danger zone and was left. We got a bird's eye view of 3 awesomely huge bull sharks shredding it to pieces, uninhibited now that the annoying bubble-makers had gone.
Kadavu Island and the Great Astrolabe Reef - Ono Island - Nabouwalu Bay. The cruising guides we had didn't show it as an anchorage, but it looked to be the best protected area. We were lucky to have good light, and the sailing was easy. The bay is well protected and there is good anchoring depth (about 25-30ft) before you get too close to the shallows fringing the 3 sides of the bay. The villagers were the nicest people! We made sevu sevu, and the chief's son and friend showed us a hot gas vent in the stream and the trail that goes up a valley and eventually goes to the village on the north side. The next day, 3 young men came out with a punctured volley ball and asked if we could patch it. They took us on a hike on the south side of the bay up over the ridge to a small, deep valley with a small stream that enters the ocean through a cave naturally carved through the rocks bringing you to out on the west coast a short way from the bay entrance. We were there at low tide and were able to walk through the cave out to the uncovered rocks along the coast and they showed us an area of more caves at water level which according to legend were entrances to other caves that could only be reached by diving down, swimming underwater, then coming up inside. We love these kinds of mysterious stories, and arranged to come back via the dinghy with a small scuba tank, and seek out the truth. Out of 3 caves, none gave access to dry land inside, but one did go back a fair distance, perhaps 100ft, and on a low tide, there would be air pockets just large enough for one to get his head out of the water and grab a breath, but it would be very scary without a light and a dive mask. The young men also showed us an area on the north side of the bay entrance with a grotto swim-through and another 100ft cave that one could do on a shallow scuba dive.
We had our first taste of mud crab at this village! Very yummy. The grandfather of one of our young guides caught them for us and showed us the proper way to kill and cook them. In exchange, we gave him some paint that he needed to paint a repair that he had done to his boat bottom. It's so nice that yachties and villagers can have this kind of symbiotic relationship where each one benefits. We're not just useless tourists throwing money.
Kadavu Village At the head of this unattractive bay is the unassuming village of Kadavu, accessible only at mid-to-high tide. But it is the guardian of one of the most intriguing and gorgeous waterfall settings that we have seen in our many years of traveling. Located right at the edge of the village, is a canyon and cascade right out of a Romancing the Stone movie. Your first view is water pouring 10-12 ft. out of a cleft in the red, brown, black, amber and ochre colored cliffs into a deep pool. The biggest surprise comes when you climb up and get a view into this cleft in the rocks and see an incredibly sculpted chamber in which cliffs, overhangs, and cut-backs all hang impossibly over a large pool that reveals, half hidden by these fantastic structures, a large cascade of water plunging over a black and reddish cliff into the pool. It's worth timing the tides to get to shore, walking to the village, and doing sevu sevu just to see this wonder of nature. (Note: this village, as many on Kadavu, is strict about women wearing sulus and covered shoulders, no packs or anything carried on the shoulders, and no hats in the village proper) When you sail into the bay of Kadavu, you will see reef markers that will help you avoid shallow reefs. Just after you pass the last marker on your port, you will see in the bay, a large white mooring with the words “Nazerene” painted on it. Plan on anchoring immediately after or next to this mooring or you will be stuck in the mud at low tide. The water is brown and gives no clue to how quickly it shoals from 20-30ft to less than 10ft. We anchored at (19 02.678'S, 178 23.139'E).
There is a good shore access close by. Look for a cut in the mangroves in line with the wooden building on the hill (the Nazerene Church). You need mid-tide or higher to get to the cut without walking, but once in the mangrove channel, you can make your way to a small pier and a trail. Go left and you get to the school and then farther along, the village. Go right, you get to the pastor's house, and eventually, the “store” which sells canned goods, eggs, potatoes, onions, some frozen goods, gasoline, and kerosene. At high tide you can get to the store by dinghy. Just opposite Waya Island, is the Matava Resort. This is a 2- 3 star resort with clean, well-maintained simple thatched bures, groomed grounds, and a very nice, airy, raised bar/dining/community bure with terrace. Adrian, one of 3 partner-owners is a prize-winning deep-sea fisherman. He and his staff were very welcoming. The evening meal was delicious with fresh fish dishes and produce grown on site. There is a serious dive center, the main activity of the clientele being diving Astrolabe Reef and it's passes. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to dive with them so cannot comment on the operation or the dives.
At Matava Resort, we met Epeli, a gregarious Fijian who does free-lance airport transport for the resort, and others. He invited us to his village to see the waterfall there, and to see a Fijian church wedding that just happened to be held the next day. We took the dinghy with Epeli guiding us through the tricky parts at low tide, went west passed Lion Rock, a formation that looks like a lion standing, passed a couple headlands to Nagamoto village. We made sevu sevu with the elders, who were already well into the tanoa bowl with all the festivities and visitors from other villages. Their kava mixture was much stronger than that at the Dravuni celebration. My tongue and throat felt numb immediately! The waterfall was about a 15-20 minute easy rock hopping up the stream. Cute, idyllic, 2-level falls with nice pool for swimming. We took some photos of the wedding, with the couple and their attendants in elaborate tapa cloth costumes. We couldn't stay for the whole celebration, as we had to get back through the reefs well before dark, but were given take-away” plates from the feast fare. Luc edited a DVD video for the wedding couple with some special effects from his editing program and presented it to the couple and the village as a thank-you.
Kavala Bay is a deeply inset bay on the N side of Kadavu, and offers great protection from all winds except N-NW. And even with a moderate N, the anchorage is protected by a shallow reef. The anchorage is shown on the Calder Guide: 7m of water, right next to the concrete wall, (dinghy landing) of the village store. From here, you can walk to the store, (basics, bread, frozen meat, ice cream, gas, diesel, kerosene), the village to do sevu sevu with the Elders, or to a beautiful 40 meter waterfall with pool. ($3-5 entry or give a gift or service to the family).
The Tiliva Resort will pick up divers and/or diners from this bay and take you to their very lovely resort on the NE side. Barbara and Kim, owner-managers have created a fine quality hide-away that offers amenities not found in any other resort on the S or E side of Kadavu. They have gone great lengths to create an atmosphere of quiet nature, balmy breezes and lapping waves, with pleasing touches of Fijian art and history, natural woods and fibers. Each of the 6 large bures has ensuite baths beautifully crafted furniture of local wood, and wide decks and terraces that are placed to catch the sea breezes. There's a British Colonial feeling of bringing civilization to the wild; high tea with china service in a jungle setting. Having worked in the hospitality field ourselves for many years, we could see the eye for detail, and the huge effort they make to provide what most visiting metropolitans would take for granted (salads with variety lettuce, carrots and tomatoes grown organically on site, freely pouring salt from an open salt dish, 24 hr electricity, and hot, unlimited showers). We think it would make a wonderful day for a party of buddy boaters to do some morning dives on the Great Astrolabe Reef, have a fresh, delicious lunch, (We enjoyed Mahi Mahi, home-made fries and salad) and a walk up to the overlook for great views of the reef and islands and lagoon colors.
Papageno Resort on the N coast, just W of Daku Bay. We anchored (18 57.72S, 178 14.24E ) in good sand w/ few heads in 25ft. Keep an eye for the reefs shown on the electronic charts. With good visibility, we could easily see isolated bommies, and a long reef extending out from the resort. You could find anchoring on either side of that reef, protected from SE winds. The resort monitors Ch 16 most of the time and can guide you. When we got round-the-clock-winds, we went into the beautifully protected Daku Bay. On the charts, the route looks like a mine-field of reefs, but there is a quite straightforward route in deep water. Staff from Papageno guided us in, and came to pick us, and Ted (s/v Anna Louise) up for diving each day. They have a dive operation that dives the wreck of the Pacific Voyager (just off the reefs out from the resort), and also all of the same sites as Dive Kadavu. See below for details. The reefs and bommies around the resort are very healthy and the snorkeling is close and colorful. The resort staff are all very welcoming. Epi, operations manager and Isaac, manager of the Dive Center were especially nice. Until us, only SSCAers “Key of D”, had stopped here.
Daku Bay We anchored (18 58.349'S, 178 16.442'E) in the area of the bay belonging to Daku Village. After sevu sevu, met Epi and his wife Kata, who have welcomed yachts for over 15 years, including Jimmy Cornell and Jim and Sue Corenman. He has urged his and 2 neighboring villages to agree to marine reserve areas and preservation of native birds and an endemic forest found only here. The village has started a giant Clam reserve, bee-keeping, coffee making, and sandalwood tree reforestation with the help of Peace Corp volunteers. Epi offers tours and cultural activities to try to raise money for the village to prove that protecting their lands can also bring income. Buying some of his organic garden vegetables or ginger will feed both you and his cause. Visionaries in a short-sighted world are rare.
Snorkeling and Diving, Kadavu As noted, most resorts have a dive center. All of them were clean, neat, had good, recent gear. The dives are usually done from the ubiquitous long, open, fiberglass runabouts that abound in Fiji. Rates for dives were about the same at all resorts : $70/dive (tanks and weights only), $130-140 for 2-tank AM dive, extra to rent any gear or suits. Best deals for multiple dives packages. As noted, some will pick up at nearest anchorages. For drift dives or dives long distances away, or especially good sites, dive centers are the best way to go. Note: all resorts have accords with the corresponding villages to dive their waters. Yachties wishing to dive on their own should go to the village chief of each site and make the sevu sevu and request permission to dive. You may or may not have to pay a fee to dive. We dislike the idea of locals thinking of us as a new source to make a buck off of, so whenever fees are requested, we prefer to offer a gift of something we have that would be useful to them or the village.
On our way to the Yasawas, we stopped at Bekana Island Just in front of Lautoka, Bekana's 6-7 yacht moorings are a reasonable dinghy ride away in relatively mild conditions, if you have an RIB and 10-15HP motor. It was much more pleasant here with a view of the resort and beach, than near the noise and traffic of the port area. Pick a mooring, then go in to ask, as they do not monitor VHF. Andrew, Fijian Chinese, born and raised in this area, has become a successful entrepreneur in Australia, and a few years ago, bought the mismanaged resort, which employs many of his childhood friends and buddies. He visits the island about once a month from Sydney and he welcomed us as warmly as any native Fijian, singing with his staff and sharing a bowl of kava. Sala, the full-time manager, was graciously warm and welcomed us to use the mooring, and come for the Friday Lovo/Meke (underground oven/Fijian dance) night, with the regular staff members providing the entertainment. While in the upper price range, the dining here is higher quality in terms of ambiance, attentive service, and presentation of gourmet cuisine when dining ala carte, and a beautiful buffet on Lovo night. Watson is a Fijian version of the proper “butler” with his grave and serious attention to the guests, making sure you are greeted by name each time he sees you. His side-kicks on the activities staff contrast well with their open “Bula”-ness, and when they all get together to sing, Watson is right in there offering Kava, and making you part of the family.
Yasawas - Waya Island The southern-most major island of the group, Waya's silhouette made me think of The Hobbit and the evil land of Mordor. The peaks look like horns of the devil! We anchored in calm conditions in the north bay, Nalauwaki, in front of the village in about 14m (45ft) of water. The dark areas on the bottom turned out to be sea grass patches over sand, rather than hard corals. Our bugle anchor bit in well. The northern swells did not bother Sloepmouche. After sevusevu with the chief, we visited the “waterfall”. On the eastern-most corner of the beach, you can take your dinghy at mid-tide or better right up to where the river drains into the bay. Scramble up the river about 100yds and you'll come upon a small fall with small pool. This used to be the water catchment area described in the guide, but the dam is now broken, and they have a new cistern in another area, so you can stand under the falls and sit in the pool anytime.
We took a well-beaten path over the ridge to the Octopus Resort. Formerly a Backpackers Resort, it has been nicely upgraded with bungalows, a cool, shady pool terrace, and bar and restaurant of 3 Star quality. This is a bonus for those paying for the dorm accommodation, as they get the “ambiance” and meal packages of a higher quality resort. There is a PADI dive center on site. We moved the boat around and anchored off the resort in ~30ft over sand and weed. Polly & Ross, the Scottish manager couple, make cruisers feel very welcome! We're speaking about genuine pleasure to have you visiting, not the false smile that often only see $ signs in your eyes! We enjoyed several quality meals, relaxing in the pool after a guided walk across the island (you go by boat and hike back), did some scuba and enjoyed the meke on Friday night. If the wind turns more SW or W, it's only 2 miles to go anchor back in the North bay. Nice to be in a resort where everyone is having a great time! Don't miss this stop in the Yasawas!