For many Fijians, traveling abroad for vacation is usually high on the list. But on my recent work trip to Kadavu, I realized there was more to Fiji than meets the eye.
Our beautiful islands have so much to offer anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Just make the decision to soak up the serenity of the islands, beautiful pristine beaches and the simplicity of village life.
In the end, a short trip to any part of Fiji is literally ‘over the seas’, but with a much cheaper fare and less jet lag. On my recent island-hopping trip to Kadavu, $43 took me on an eight-hour boat ride aboard the Lomaiviti Princess I to the first port of call, Vunisea, and then to Kavala Pier in Nakasaleka District.
For those looking for a memorable vacation, Kadavu has plenty to offer, from five-star resorts to laid-back accommodation in Vunisea.
But nothing beats a vacation in the village, meeting the islanders up close and personal – and enjoying the abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables and mouth-watering variety of seafood.
When I left Suva I was told by a work colleague that Vunisea had a weekend nightclub widely known to locals as “Botswana”. A nightclub in Kadavu? I was surprised there was one so far from town. So I thought of writing a business story. I started by asking locals about the “Botswana” nightclub – and hoping it was a nightclub.
I was even more surprised to learn that Botswana was a beautiful white sand beach off the old Vunisea Pier, famous for drinks and weekend picnics.
My investigation went no further than that. Kadavu consists of 78 villages and 11 districts scattered along beautiful sandy beaches with lush vegetation, rich soil and natural resources. The main source of income on the island is yaqona agriculture.
Vunisea is a small island city. The airport is within walking distance and includes supermarkets, hospital, post office, police station, public school, government offices, thrift stores, bakery and homestays. Fiji Times photographer Sophie Ralulu and I stayed at Namalata Village in Tavuki District.
After introducing our sevusevu to the village elders on the first day, we were served delicious fish and fresh coconut milk (miti), dalo with lalabe (edible ferns) and washed down with fresh âkavaâ mixed with ‘i bo’ or ‘i unu’ (a traditional colander made from the dried bark of beach hibiscus).
One thing about Kadavu is the friendliness of its people. I never felt like a foreigner and was welcomed into their home to share a meal, a cup of draunimoli (hot tea with lemon leaves) or a bowl of grog. If you ever plan to visit Kadavu, Nabukelevu District should be a place to go.
We had the privilege of being hosted by the Turaga na Tui Nabukelevu, Ratu Apakuki Nanovo in the main village of Daviqele during our stay to cover stories about climate change.
The district consists of 11 villages, Daviqele, Muaninuku, Tabuya, Dagai, Lomaji, Qalira, Talaulia, Nasau, Levuka, Kabariki and Nabukelevu-I-Ra. The fare from Vunisea to Nabukelevu villages, if you rent a vehicle, is around $100 to $150 round trip, per passenger it would cost around $20.
The area is surrounded by sparkling sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and famous for Mount Washington or Ului Nabukelevu – which provides a picturesque backdrop to the village of Daviqele. Nabukelevu is the only area west of Kadavu that retains extensive ancient forest.
The soil is rich and the dalo crops could reach the size of an arm. According to Bird Life International, the highest mountain of Nabukelevu and the largest area of ââmontane forest in western Kadavu are home to four species of birds endemic to Kadavu and may still support nesting colonies of collared petrels and petrels. other seabirds.
While in Daviqele, as traditional protocol dictated, we presented our sevusevu to Ratu Nanovo asking for his approval to conduct interviews in the district on the impact of climate change on his people.
He asked that we attend the monthly church service (vulavou) so that we could be accommodated – we did not decline his request.
We spent two days in the village and were treated to a feast of fresh fish, freshly boiled or cooked in thick coconut milk and the famous ‘suli’ or dalo ni Nabukelevu.
If it were up to us, we would have spent another week in Nabukelevu, but duty called and we had to return to Namalata village to prepare for the purposes of our visit to Kadavu – covering the Provincial Council meeting of Kadavu in the main village of Tavuki.
This eight-day work trip was such an eye-opener for a susu madrai (someone who grew up in the urban area) like me.
I got to experience what island life had to offer, and more. If you’re ever thinking of an ‘over the sea’ holiday, put Kadavu on your to-do list. You will not be disappointed!