Fiji, Rotuma: Cruising Notes
Useful cruising information for this part of Fiji from a variety of cruisers.
Published 6 years ago, updated 4 years ago
SY Tuvalu visited Rotuma in August 2017 and produced some very useful Cruising Information. You can download the pdf here.
October 2011 to November 2012
Stephen & Selena Steddy of SV Westward II from Australia have compiled very useful and clear cruising notes for their 12 months in Fiji cruising Rotuma. Go here to download the pdf.
September 2011 – Rotuma Cruising Report
From Noonsite Regional Editor: Luc Callebaut & Jackie Lee on s/v Sloepmouche
Now a port of Entry (we were only the 5th vessel to clear in/out intl.) it offers a sheltered anchorage close to the small wharf (Oinafa bay, on the NE side of the island). Good sand, from 10 to 25 ft. Alas, a continuous swell made this anchorage a bit uncomfortable!
Check-in fees were: health: 34 F$ / immigration: none / customs: none or 75F$ if WE overtime / agriculture: none except 15F$ for garbage disposal and/or 54 F$ if overtime. Due to unpredictable wx, we ended up arriving a Sunday morning and had to pay the overtime fees as they insisted on coming on the boat and check us in that Sunday instead of letting us rest on board and check in on Monday!
The small community nearby is very welcoming, especially Felipe who is de-facto cruiser’s shore contact. We were lucky to arrive during a great mango season! The administrative centre is located about 9 km along the main road. You can either hop on a school bus or hitch-hike. At the government administrative centre, you can find the post office where you can get a 6 F$ internet wifi card (use your laptop). We got Northern wind while in the small harbour. We went around the island and saw many pretty beaches. Would be a good spot for eco-tourism … but the flights are just going to resume after several years without any and only 1 boat per month!
The anchorage became very dangerous with big rollers coming in. Being late in the afternoon, we decided to tie up to the dock with 2 anchors holding us off the dock … we ended up all night, with the engine in gear as a crazy outgoing current was creating havoc at the dock … the wind has turned more NW and huge waves rocked the boat. A death trap! At first light, exhausted and full of adrenaline, we left (milder wind but lots of swells still) and went around the SE corner of the island to wait a few days for the North wind to change. We found much calmer conditions at 12d31’69S-177d07’98E anchored between coral formations in good sand (40-50ft). Watch out when navigating in that area as some coral boulders come less than 5ft from the surface!.
After 2 days there, we were able to return to the harbour to recover one of our anchors and check out with the officials. During that terrible episode in the harbour, we were very lucky to have the help of Felipe, the true sailor’s friend of Rotuma! This was one of the rare anchorages so uncomfortable or dangerous that we actually looked forward to going on a 9-day passage!
November 2010 – Cruising Report
Here are some brief tips on Rotuma, valid at least in November 2010. It is a wonderful place to visit. No resorts and they seem to want to keep it that way. The people are very friendly and local food can be purchased by asking. Rotuma is a garden island growing their own food with enough extra to export. I was told this is one of the reasons Fiji made Rotuma another clearance port.
There is a new dock on the northeast end of the island near the village of Oinafa. Good anchorage in the sand of the small harbour for several boats. Safe in most conditions except for any northwest swell. You should be ready to put to sea if a northwest condition becomes apparent. For excellent navigating information check out Mr-John-in-Fiji document in Scribd. The website location is at end of this document.
Clearance in: Same rules, fees, overtime charges as the other Fiji ports of clearance. You will be met at the dock by customs, immigration, health officers and you will need to transport them out to your vessel. Outgoing clearance is somewhat more difficult unless you have a Vodaphone or Digicell cell phone. Good Vodaphone coverage at the dock. Digicell was building a tower for extended service that was not yet completed in fall 2010. No problems communicating near the airport. On clearing in I scheduled an appointment for the time I wished to clear out and they were prompt with no delays. The officials were very friendly and helpful. It was a pleasure clearing in/out with them. The government offices are located on the other end of the island by the airport.
The chief for Oinafa was off-island when I arrived. I was met by a fine young gentleman named Philippe. I don’t have any contact information but you can ask any villager in Oinafa and they can direct you. He was very helpful, arranged for a truck for an island tour that I really enjoyed. I even went into the jungle on a few occasions with him to feed his pigs. Probably not something everyone would enjoy but I found it rather interesting. He has a cell phone and can contact the local officials for clearance appointments.
Philippe invited me to several of his families dinners. He would also try to feed me lunch, but I found one heavy meal a day to be more than enough. He also took me to a nearby village for Sevusevu. They like their Kava, (Fiji beer, Grog) in Rotuma. They do not have ground Kava, they pound the roots during the ceremony and the mix is pounded and re-used several times. Very memorable hours sitting with the men enjoying their local custom. They, of course, are very curious and asked many questions about me and my travels.
I have a very positive attitude toward Rotuma and their people. It is different than the typical Fiji location. I enjoyed it very much, and hope to stop by in my travels again.
Well, there are always some negative things. The major problem I had was flies. Without landing ashore, the flies will still find your boat. I would recommend having along some standard sticky fly paper to help control them. I had plenty of practice swatting flies during my visit. No one seems to know why Rotuma this problem compared to other Fiji islands.
Already mentioned but worth repeating, the harbour is dangerous if a northwest swell is running.
The roads and public transportation are poor or non-existent. The local bus was broken when I arrived. There wasn’t any other public transportation, most people hitch rides with lucky locals. The sand/dirt roads were actually in rather a good shape, I suspect there is not much local traffic to ruin them. I had no difficulty obtaining a ride but your experience may differ.
Basic information website.