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Friday, January 1, 2010

Private Yacht Cruising in Fiji

Port Denarau marina


An Overview Cruising In Fiji
by Captain David Jamieson

Fiji is all those images of the tropical island paradise you ever dreamed of on a cold wet day in Europe. Gentle warm breeze, crystal clear sea lapping on a deserted beach, swaying palms, friendly smiling people - it is a slice of heaven on Earth. Sunny, unique and unspoiled, Fiji lies between 15’ and 22’ south of the equator and has over 330 islands with miles of pristine white sand beaches, fabulous coral gardens and verdant tropical rainforest. Fiji is a fascinating blend of cultures and colour and has something to offer all visiting yachts.

Port Denarau is the ideal place to start your Fijian cruise as it is located only 15 minutes from Nadi International Airport and can berth yachts up 60m with on-the-dock fuel, power, water and Wi-Fi. In walking distance there are seven high-end hotels, an international 18 hole golf course , supermarket, shopping centre, bars, restaurants and marine services. Denarau Island gives ample provisioning or pampering opportunities, but if you want to experience the true nature and generous hospitality of the Fijian people, a voyage to the outer islands is essential.

Yasawas and Mamanucas Islands

These two groups of islands provide a wide range cruising for a 7- to 10-day cruise.

Their location on the leeward side of Fiji provides them with dry sunny weather. The Mamanucas Islands lie within the reef providing smooth sailing. There are a wide variety of islands, some home to boutique resorts while others are more secluded such as Monoriki where the Tom Hanks film 'Castaway' was filmed. It’s a great place to start a cruise with easy diving and good snorkelling. As you sail north you arrive at Waya Island in the Yasawa Group. Anchor off Natawa village (South Waya) and be sure to present your kava to the village chief in the traditional “sevusevu” ceremony. This high island has spectacular views from its peak and is worth the short hike to the top. Stop and refresh in the natural spring on the way up. Continue to walk right over the island and have your yacht collect you on the other side.

The Yasawa Group gets more spectacular the further North you go. Swim with the giant Manta Rays at Naviti Island, anchor in the turquoise waters of Blue Lagoon where the film of the same name was made, explore the huge limestone caves at Sawa-I-Lau and finally stand on the fine sand on any of the ten kilometres of pristine beaches of Yasawa Island.

Vatu-I-Ra Channel and Lomaiviti Group

The Vatu-I-Ra channel contains some of Fiji’s best dives. The constant flow of water through the channel produces some of world’s most colourful soft coral gardens and in the deeper water there are pinnacles rising up to the shallows that are the domain of the large pelagic species. These are for experienced divers and a local guide is recommended.

The Lomaiviti Group includes the islands of Makogai an ex-leper colony and now home to a turtle hatchery. Gau is well known for its shark dives and the remote Namena is a marine sanctuary.

Savusavu and Taviuni

Savusavu is quaint little town with volcanic activity producing hot springs that steam along the foreshore. The town has shops and a market for fresh provisions. Across Savusavu Bay is the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort which offers fine dining ashore. Heading east to the island of Taviuni, known as the garden island because lush rainforest and waterfalls. Here you will find little evidence of tourism and an opportunity to experience traditional Fijian life.

Lau Group

This group is Fiji’s hidden paradise with no tourism and is one of the most traditional areas of Fiji. Vunua Balavu Island has some of the most spectacular scenery in Fiji. Here traditional etiquette needs to be strictly observed. You need to bring with you a gift of half a kilo of the root of the pepper plant from which kava, the social and ceremonial drink is made. Now begins an ancient ritual known as 'sevu sevu'. This usually takes place in the village longhouse where your party sits on the floor opposite the Ratu (chief) and his elders. The Ratu appoints a spokesman to speak for the visitors, although the entire proceedings are held in the Fijian language. The spokesman ceremoniously requests the Ratu to accept your gift of kava. The Ratu places his hands on the gift, and thanks the visitors. All present clap three times. You are now officially the guest of the village.

There is plenty of exploring inside this large lagoon and it is worth staying a few days. The village will put on a traditional feast or Lovo with meat, fish and local vegetables baked in an underground earth oven this is followed by a meke (Fijian dancing) in honour of their guests. For the more adventuress you can cruise south through the Lau Islands to experience more of these seldom-visited islands.

Bega and Kadavu

Bega Lagoon has one of the worlds most highly recommended shark dives where Tiger and Bull Sharks are seen daily. Ashore the people of Bega are known for their ability to fire walk over red hot rocks.

Kadavu

Is a must for keen divers and sites abound inside the Astrolobe Reef where fish life is bountiful among the huge coral gardens. Turtles, large pelagics, schooling Barracudas and Mantas are regular sights. Ashore there is little tourism and you will be assured of a traditional “Bula” Fijian welcome.

Fiji enjoys a mild, tropical climate, with warm dry winters from May to October and a warmer wet season from November to April. Don’t let “winter” put you off as temperatures average around 29 degrees and the weather is settled with blue sunny skies. At all seasons the winds over Fiji are light or moderate and the trade winds are predominant from the east to southeast. Fiji offers a multitude of cruising options to match any discerning guest. For further information contact Yacht Help for an itinerary to suit your needs. Come and discover “Fiji Time” where life is fully appreciated in a more relaxed place,.


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