Exploring Vanua Levu, Fiji

Friday morning we picked up our 4WD truck to go exploring along with Sarah and Phil (Serenity of Swanwick). And it wasn’t raining – yay! We headed out of town, realised we had taken the wrong road so turned around until we found the right road to the Waisali Rainforest Reserve. Maps and road signs are pretty scarce and not detailed so we were led by instructions like ‘turn right at the bus stop’ LOL.

The walk through the rainforest was billed as relatively easy and I was up for it, particularly when we found out that the whole trail had a footpath. So we started off – expecting it to be about 30-40 minutes stroll – and it was very muddy, the steps were large, and it kept on going downhill flattening off for a while then continuing downhill. The forest was lush and green and we heard the sounds of barking pigeons and frogs but actually never saw anything of note throughout the walk. But the plants were amazing.

At the bottom we came across a stream with a picnic area so we took a little while to sit, enjoy and get our breath back.

Then we started the long walk back uphill….through the mud which, in places, looked like it had been disturbed by something snuffling through it, so we thought perhaps wild pigs?!? They do exist here apparently.

Eventually we ended up back on the road and not a minute too soon for my poor old legs! Wow had been quite a struggle for me towards the end of the trail as it had taken at least an hour and a half to get round. We then spotted the ‘scenic lookout’ but laughed at the view which was just into the jungle….

Moving on from here we headed back down the hill towards Vuadomo. This was a bit off the beaten track but we found it OK. Once parked we duly donned our sulas and headed over to meet the chief. The chief wasn’t there but his daughter was so we handed over our kava and they did a little bit of clapping and a few words but no actual sevusevu ceremony. We then wandered the village for a while. We asked about the chapel and were surprised to find that this village was Methodist so that is why visiting on a Sunday (when they have to attend church three times a day) is taboo. The villagers live on tourist income ($10 pp – just over £3 – to visit the waterfall) and they mainly eat fish and vegetables which they grow themselves and then supplement their income by selling any surplus in the town market. Their fishing rafts are pretty basic….

We then walked to the waterfall and thoroughly enjoyed our dip in the cool water which was especially refreshing after the heat and humidity of the forest, and we all felt very clean afterwards.

It was now past lunchtime so we headed back into Savusavu admiring the beautiful views along the way. We also saw, for the first time, the extent of the reef that we had sailed around to enter into the bay towards Savusavu.

We had difficulties getting back up the hill from the village due to a slipping clutch but made it back into town and went to the local Korean restaurant (called The Grace Road Kitchen) which prepared a fresh and excellent plate of food. This was the cleanest place we had been in since we arrived in Fiji. Afterwards we headed to the coast road to see if we could go swimming.

We took the wrong road (again) and, this time, we ended up at the Cousteau resort. Never mind, ready to turn around, and then the clutch went completely!!! We managed to get it off the main road and rang the hire guy. He wasn’t surprised at all (we think he knew it was dodgy) and turned up with another jeep for us which was a bit small but at least we were back on the road.

We then went back through Savusavu and headed past the airport to the coast road expecting to be able to access the sea. Sadly that was not the case as the waterfront was predominantly taken over by large private resorts and private islands with big ‘no entry’ signs on them all. There were a few villages that were waterfront but we didn’t want to impose ourselves on them either. Slightly disappointed we headed back to Copra Shed marina and had a few cold ones watching the sun set over Morphie. Had been a tiring but fun day.

Saturday we had a bit of a lazy one after the exertions of the previous day and headed to meet Chris to go to the Planters Club for an evening BBQ. Of course it poured with rain just before we left but we managed to avoid the worst of it by staying at Watui Marina for a beer before heading down the road further. This was an experience as a lot of local guys were in there and appeared quite drunk and exuberant! We were surprised, on arrival, to find the Club pretty empty as this had been billed as a special event with live band the works. Well there was no music and no other cruisers….. Then a few turned up and we made up a big table and that was it. The BBQ was OK but nothing special and no music – never mind. The other cruisers headed back to the Copra Shed later (as they wanted a dessert) but we stayed put for the remainder of the evening.

Sunday morning it was more boat jobs…..stripping beds, cleaning the fibreglass down below (there was signs of some mould developing in this hot and humid environment) and we also polished all the wood. Phew….hard work! We dropped the laundry off and had a quiet movie night on board.

Monday morning we started to look at waypoints and doing a bit of planning. We are not exactly sure of our destinations right now but know that our first stop will be to anchor just off the point here to enjoy swimming in blue water. Really looking forward to that. We then plan to move to Paradise Resort on Taveuni Island which is about 40 miles away. This resort is right across from the Rainbow Reef (which is a famous dive site) and has free mooring balls and welcome yachts to their facility. So we intend to do some diving with them and, if it turns out to be good, we may stay a little while. After this there are a few routes we could take but our next destination will probably be the Bay of Islands in the Lau Group which are supposed to be beautiful. Navigation looks a bit tricky so we spent quite a bit of time doing that – we are also getting a letter from Copra Shed to give us permission to anchor in a private bay over there that they own.

During all this planning which we did on the verandah of the bar here in Copra Shed (but we were drinking coffee, honest) we met Kyle and MaryAnn (SV Begonia) who we had not seen since Nuie. What a coincidence they would end up here at the same time as us so it was nice to see them again.

Tuesday we headed into town as we needed to purchase items to give to the villages that we visit. So we purchased 1kg of kava and had it made up into five bundles for future sevusevu ceremonies with the chiefs. Richard was bitching because he could have bought two slabs of beer for the cost of the kava ($150 = £52 for some twigs!).

The idea of this ceremony is to receive approval to anchor and fish in their bay; visit their village; and generally be hosted by them. To supplement the kava we also purchased small bags of rice, lots of ramen noodles, cheap teabags and breakfast biscuits which we will give away as gifts to families that are particularly helpful to us on our journeys. We have also purchased some beautiful local material so if we give away 5 yards to each family they will have a lasting gift from us when they turn it into a shirt or a sula etc.

In the evening we had sundowners on board Morphie with Chris, Sarah and Phil coming aboard for drinks and pizzas. Was a nice evening and probably the last time we’ll all be in one place together as we start heading out as the weather improves.

It is now Wednesday and Richard has headed into town for a couple of things we need while I’m blogging down below. We plan to leave on Thursday just to the anchorage at the point and then cross to Tavenui the following day. All very exciting.

Bye for now