Fiji - Profile
- Cyclone Winston ploughed through Fiji in February 2016, with winds of over 320km/h (200mph), torrential rain, and waves of up to 12m (40ft). However, in most places you would now struggle to realise that the second strongest storm on record passed through the country. Most of the islands are back to full operations, the markets are stocked and the diving is still world class. Read this wonderful report of the recovery of the Lau Group following the Cyclone by a Sea Mercy volunteer.
- Fiji is an archipelago of over 300 islands, from coral atolls to large volcanic islands. About 100 are inhabited, while many of the rest are used as fishing bases and planting grounds. The International Dateline runs through Fiji, although most of the islands are just west of 180°.
- Fiji has all the ingredients of a perfect cruising destination - beautiful islands, secluded anchorages and welcoming people. This picture of perfection is somewhat marred by a menacing array of coral reefs that almost encircle the entire archipelago. The majority of visiting yachts arrive from the east, which is where the reefs have claimed most victims. Part of the problem is that it is forbidden to stop at any of the eastern islands before clearing in and a careful watch is kept on yacht movement by the Fijian authorities. The location of the few ports of entry complicates the task of cruise planning, especially for those hoping to visit the eastern Lau group to windward of all ports of entry. The most convenient ports for those intending to cruise eastern Fiji are Levuka on the island of Ovalau, or Savusavu on Vanua Levu.
- Getting work done: Fiji now has excellent repair facilities for cruising yachts at both Vuda and Denarau Marinas. Good value for money and good quality, but be sure to monitor work at all times.
- Provisioning: Excellent supermarkets in the main ports stock a large variety of local products. Some goods are imported from NZ/Australia. Generally prices are reasonable and much more affordable than the expensive prices of French Polynesia and the Cook Islands.
- The traditional way of life is still thriving in the islands and the unthinking attitude in the past of a few visiting sailors has caused offence and animosity, which led to a strict control of cruising permits. Local etiquette should be observed and it is expected that a courtesy visit to the chief or headman of the island or village bearing a gift of yagona (kava) is made. See Local Customs for more details.
- Traditions are not so strong in the western islands, some of which have been developed as tourist resorts, such as the charming Mamanuca islands, which are a short hop from Nadi airport, convenient for crew changes.
- Further west is the Yasawa Group, one of the most popular cruising grounds due to scenic anchorages and clear waters. Pickmere's Yasawa chartlets are essential for cruising the Yasawa group and are available in Lautoka.
- The marina at Vuda Point on Viti Levu's west coast, is now a Port of Entry and together with the marina at Port Denarau, both form convenient ports of call as well as being being close to Nadi international airport.
- The opening of two marinas in Savusavu, Copra Shed Marina and Waitui, have made it a popular base from which to explore the eastern part of the archipelago.
- Rotuma and several smaller islands lying approximately 200 miles NNW of Fiji, form a distinctive group and although administratively linked to Fiji, ethnologically they are very different as Rotumans are Polynesians. Rotuma is now an official port of entry with a dock at Oinafa for clearance and the administrative centre at Ahau, at the other end of the island.
Security reports from cruisers in Fiji began in 2014. The first was from a group of cruisers who suffered at the hands of pickpockets at Savusavu bus station in May 2014.
Following that incident, a yacht reported being burgled twice in the same month, June 2014, in Savu. The first was the dinghy and outboard being stolen whilst at anchor, the 2nd was a burglary whilst on the hard at MISEL.
The latest report was again, a dinghy and outboard theft from a bay on Viti Levu, however note the dinghy was not locked to the boat and was left in the water overnight. Local police have commented that there appears to be a spate of dinghy and outboard thefts between Denarau and Lautoka at this time.
In January 2017 in Suva, a long-term Fiji cruiser was attacked in his cockpit when he intercepted two men with machetes who boarded his boat at night with robbery in mind.
Reports on these incidents can be found adjacent.
Generally Fiji is regarded as a safe country for cruisers, however it is troubling that in some of the larger cities crime against yachts has been reported in recent years. Cruisers should always adopt sensible security precautions (including properly securing your dinghy and outboard at all times) and be sure to ask a neighbouring boat to keep an eye on your home if going ashore.
Last updated January 2017.
Fiji has a mild tropical climate. From May to November the SE trades blow, making it cooler and drier, while the summer months from November to April are wet and humid. Viti Levu and Vanua Levu can have a lot of rain and Suva is renowned for sudden but short torrential downpours. Cyclones occur during the period November to April. There are very few hurricane holes in Fiji and these quickly fill up with local boats.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page
A useful guide to South Pacific weather resourcescomplied by a Noonsite contributor, Rory Garland.
Mamanucas and Yasawas: Musket Cove
Ovalau: Levuka *
Rotuma: Oinafa *
* indicates port of entry