Fiji Time – BULA!
Video: Cruising Fiji searching for the idyllic surf wave, remote village or chilling at a yacht club or resort. Fiji has remained remarkably unmolested by mass tourism since our last cruising experience here 22 years ago
English Colonialism + Native Fijians + Indian Immigrants
Officially the Republic of Fiji
Fiji gained independence from the British Empire in 1970 after 96 years as a British colony
Fiji is unique with a strong British influence and Native Fijian culture tossed with a large Indian minority; it all comes together to create a unique multicultural travel experience.
The Fijians we met throughout the islands, anchorages and marinas were genuine, approachable and just really nice people. BULA!!!
First Stop Suva Harbor right along the international fishing boats, freighters, yachts, cruise liners and a pirate ship
Suva Harbor, Fiji
The Royal Suva Yacht Club
The club was founded around 1930 and has a rich history that is on display with flags, trophies, photos and mementos throughout the club
Tradition too..the wearing of hats by men in the bar area is strictly forbidden and the penalty for doing so is to buy a round of drinks for Everyone at the bar!
We spent most of our time in downtown Suva getting much needed parts, supplies and provisions. It was nice to come back to the yacht club in the afternoon and have a cold drink out on the lawn socializing with fellow sailors at this historic yacht club
The colorful municipal market is famous for being the largest retail produce market in the Pacific. It was a welcomed treat to indulge in all the fruits and vegetables we could carry back to the boat
The Market has everything! I commissioned a seamstress to sew a fitted bed sheet for our “triangle shaped front berth”
Unfortunately, either our template or instructions didn’t translate and the “fitted sheet” did not fit. No harm in trying; it was only a $11 investment and I was able to use the sheet on another berth
Martin had better luck with the shoe repairs.
Martin’s 6 month old Keen Sandals had started to fall apart and it was a logistical nightmare to send them back to Keen Co. in the US for the warranty.
So, he had the local shoe repair guy fix them and reinforce all the stitching for only $14
In downtown Suva we were approached by local conmen; they start off friendly enough saying “Bula” asking us where we were from, trying to get us talking to them so they could get our names. However, as soon as they know your name they whip out a wooden piece and proceed to etch your name in these wooden daggers. Once your name is engraved they Insist on getting paid for the Mask that goes with the wooden daggers!
Martin was a victim of the scam and ended up paying the “con artist” $50 Fijian dollars for a crappy wooden mask and daggers with our names engraved. Needless to say he was furious.
On hindsight Martin did remember his brother Gerald getting scammed the same way 22 years ago when he was here visiting us in Fiji; it made it all the more humiliating.
Humiliation then turned to hysterics as we met other sailors that were scammed the same way!
Indians were initially brought to Fiji as indentured labors to work the sugar cane plantations. Between 1879 and 1916. 60,000 Indians arrived in Fiji.
Today Fiji is 38% Indian
We got our Curry on…eating and cooking our way through a variety of curries
Beqa Island- trials and tribulations
Pronounced Beng-a is outlier island to the main island of Vita Levu. There are no roads, no towns and only a few isolated villages. Beqa’s claim to fame is that it’s home to the traditional Fire Walkers, Sawau tribe that walk barefoot across blazing hot rocks.
We were packing Martin’s Sulu (Fijian Man-skirt) and a bushel of Kava root to present to the Chief and ask for permission to anchor in their lagoon. Also, we were hopeful to have an opportunity to witness a fire walking ceremony.
Unfortunately, we didn’t experience anything traditional on the island. Elizabeth and Garth reported back to us that they were told to pay to snorkel; which is simply unconscionable.
The Chief was away so there wouldn’t be any formal “Sevusevu” Ceremony for our seeking acceptance from the chief into their village
I did see a large Bull Shark on my morning snorkel that scared me to death and made me reconsider swimming alone for now.
As we (Shenemere & Irwinish) were pulling up our anchors with our sights set for Yanuca Island Irwinish’s anchor windless decided it had had enough after 20 years. Thank goodness they were able to manually pull their anchor up and sail to Yanuca Island strategizing along the way how best to get their windless repaired or replaced and where?
Intrepid Surf Hounds Martin and Garth… destination Yanuca Island desperate to surf “Frigates”. Unfortunately conditions were not favorable for Frigates surf break when we were there.
Sweet Yanuca island is a hilly speck inside Beqa Lagoon only a few miles west of Beqa. We enjoyed exploring an abandoned surf camp, a quaint village and excellent beach for collecting interesting pieces of shells.
Along with Elizabeth and Garth we hiked over to the village with our gift of Kava root for the Chief and Elizabeth with her lollipops for the children. We had to ask a few villagers where we could find the Chief only to find out that the Chief had left the island to get medical treatment. We did meet with the Chief’s “spokesman”, offered our Kava, received his blessing to walk around the village and to anchor in their lagoon.
Fun putting together this “postcard moment” of us on Yanuca Island
The Fijian Triangle: This is the time (we lost) when we started to sail every other day between Musket Cove, Namotu Surf Break and Denarau Marina
Musket Cove Yacht Club: 22 years ago we partied at the same place but, it was called the “$2 Bar”… it isn’t $2 anymore $$$
Bless the sailor and the founder of Musket Cove Yacht Club Dick Smith; for creating and preserving an unpretentious yacht club in the South Pacific!
Again so many memories around the BBQ…Priceless!
There are over 10,000 Musket Cove Yacht Club members worldwide. Back in the day your yacht’s name was etched into the beams of the club when you became a member. Martin spent some time trying to locate the “S/V Topaz” plaque from when we sailed and stayed at Musket Cove in ’98
So Grateful that Musket Cove remains welcoming to us sailors. It is still a social watering hole for all of us to get together and BBQ communally at picnic tables and share stories. LOVE IT!
Floating bar and restaurant in crystal warm Fijian waters. Very touristy yet very cool. Great music and atmosphere with folks having fun jumping off the second level platform. Not your typical “soggy dollar” kind of place…they only take credit cards.
The Wood-fired pizza at Cloud 9 and cold beers were to die for after Martin and Garth surfed the extreme tides and waves at Namotu’s all morning
The three R’s: Rest, Re-provision and Recreation.
It was a bit overwhelming coming into this swanky marina and retail complex. The Hard Rock Café with live music and half dozen restaurants to choose from. Everything looking new, well maintained and Touristy…something that we are not used to. That being said we didn’t have any issue watching the Rugby World Cup Games on wide screen TVs
We took the open air “Bula Bus” that offers a continuous loop around the island stopping at each resort
The “Bula Bus” was indiscriminate with who got off at any one of the many resorts on Denarau Island including the Westin, Wyndham, Radisson, Sheraton, Sofitel and Hilton so we did! We took our time looking at the restaurants, pools and spas of many resorts to see where we would celebrate our 22nd Wedding Anniversary.
Martin did his research on the many spas and treated me to a “Dream Spa Retreat” at the Westin…Best Anniversary present Ever!
We are setting sail for New Zealand to sit out the cyclone season
Fair winds, safe passage and Love to all the amazing friends we met during our Pacific passage