SavuSavu, Viani Bay & Matagi

SavuSavu

We spent just over a week in SavuSavu getting our fix of Fiji curries at Mummas Country Kitchen, catching up and sharing stories with some of the cruisers and picking up our yaqona / kava. What is yaqona or kava you ask, well this is a pepper root that is provided as a gift to the chief of the village for us as visitors to seek acceptance to be part of the village and use its facilities / waters. The yaqona is pounded down and mixed to produce a drink with mild sedative and anesthetic properties; similar to us drinking alcohol.

Each package is 0.5 kg & 1 is provided as a gift to the chief of the village

The price you pay for yaqona has gone up seriously since we were here in 2017 with exports to the US but alas it’s a necessity to have as you go to the islands, given you are “anchored in someone’s back yard”. We got our yaqona for FJ$90/kilo as we joined with other cruisers for a bulk buy. In the market here in SavuSavu it was going for FJ$130/kilo. Ouch!

Before leaving we had to make sure we had sorted out our navigation tools. The charts are not that good here in Fiji and many a yacht has run into reefs, something we don’t want to do. There’s various tools: Sail Fiji apps / SavuSavu cruising guide – Atlas of Fiji for Mariners/ Ovitel and local cruisers knowledge including Curly in SavuSavu, the net controller. Armed with our food, gifts & navigation aids it was time to head out of SavuSavu bay. Yeah!

Viani Bay
Our first stop was Viani Bay at the Eastern tip of Vanua Levu. Approximately 50nm from SavuSavu towards the garden island called Taveuni. Viani Bay is inside the Rainbow Reef aptly named with many a rainbow while we were there on the surrounding mnts or over the Reef towards Taveuni.

Now you can see why its called the Rainbow Reef with Taveuni in the background

We anchored off the small island on the East side, which was nicely protected from the SE trade winds but alas had a few bommies around so it took a while to find a decent place to anchor. Charlene a local here sought us out with a gift of oranges as we were anchored off her uncles place.

this island was so pretty to look at when the sun was going down. Charlene’s uncle Eddy lives here

We’d come to Viani Bay to enjoy the diving right at the reef and chose Dive Academy Fiji run by Marina & Jone who were very hospitable given we were on a yacht and not renting one of their cabins. We decided to do the Advanced Open Water PADI Dive course where we’d get 5 dives in and some instruction in an area that is known for some excellent diving & snorkeling.

Jan (left) doing his dive masters and Marina (Right) our instructor

The Academy is right on the door step to some excellent dive sites like The Zoo and the White Wall, our 2 favorites. Marina our instructor was excellent working on the skills we needed whilst making sure we experienced and saw all the sea life possible on our dives.

30m or 100ft down Brett beside the White Wall
Beautiful white soft corals which go down the White Wall approx. 150ft
Tunnels and ledges to dive thru
Bright colors on the Rainbow Reefs

Marina & Jone have the perfect location in Viani Bay; 5-10 minutes boat ride from the dive sites with 2 nice cabins for guests, delicious food at the restaurant & bar and stunning sunsets. They’ve also set up various programs with the local Fijians in the bay to help educate about the reef and marine life.

Relaxing on the beach at the Eco Resort between dives
A couple of great sunsets in Viani Bay

We happened to be in the bay on a Friday night so went ashore for a fabulous dinner and met some of the locals who were having an informal Kava gathering on the beach, of which we were invited to join in.

Kava gathering using the yaqona root, note the large kava bowl with the drink in it.

Matagi Island

Matagi is a private island in the shape of a horseshoe with lush green jungle like foliage and this amazing turquoise color water with plenty of coral bommies to snorkel. There’s an exclusive resort on the South side and guests are brought around to the horseshoe bay to their own private beach with a small cabin for the day. Oops we are there! Yes we did see some guests who were dropped off by boat and stayed for about 4 hours and other than that we could hear and see black goats on the beach and the lovely sounds of birds. It was basically our private bay and snorkeling area. Perfect!


Looking over to the nice beach & cabin hidden in the trees; very private and so lush

The snorkeling wasn’t too bad here with a good variety of fish and some healthy bright corals, in patches. We ended up having sunny weather for snorkeling which brings out the colors of the coral too.

lots of interesting soft and hard corals
The only giant clam we spotted here

Off to Venua Balavu in the Northern Lau group.


Bula! Bula! We’re in Fiji

After completing a few odd jobs, getting the hulls cleaned of barnacles from the nutrient rich waters of the Bay of Islands and enjoying a few of our favourite bays we decided it was time to do final food provisions and say farewell to NZ. We’ve had a great time catching up with old and new friends all around NZ.

Overlooking Otiao Bay at Urupukapuka

After checking out the weather models in Predict Wind we chose a window to go to Fiji and started the process of checking out with customs and getting John (my father) and our first ever crew member up to speed with SW. In NZ you have to give 4 days advance notice of departure and of course the weather models changed in that time so it was hurry hurry …. wait! Oh well the weather was good in the Bay of Islands still so we all hung out, had the odd jobs to do ready for passage, enjoyed some hiking trails to get some exercise and of course the nice weather.

John has joined the Seismic Wave crew

For our passage we took the N – NW winds prior to a front to make some Easting and then we turned North when the winds turned to the West and then around to the South. The first 3 days we saw constant winds of between 9 & 20knots with 1-1.5m seas so SW cruised along. We entered a small area of squalls and behind that very light to no winds so motor sailed for 2 days until the SE winds kicked in and we could sail on towards North Minerva Reef.

The colour of the water at Minerva is amazing

We chose North Minerva Reef as a stop for 4 days as it was a little more protected than South Minerva and thought anchoring in the middle of the ocean at a reef for a swim and some lobster hunting would be a treat on passage. Yes it was! No lobsters seen but some fish life and giant clams to see while snorkeling.

Enjoying a kayak to the reef

From North Minerva we had downwind sailing and as the SE trades gathered momentum we continued north with some very lively seas especially at the end of our passage into SavuSavu on the Northern Island of Vanua Levu. We were ready to clear in with Waitui Marina and were their first boat of the season but the 7th to check into SavuSavu.

View over to the 2 Marina’s here Copra Shed (left) & Waitui (Right)

Having 3 crew aboard for the passage meant we were able to get a lot more sleep at a time……ah bliss! What else do we do on passage….not much as John soon realized!

John contemplating life


Cooking a hardy meal. John even did bacon & egg pies from scratch. Yum
Preparing to fish. We caught 1 yellow fin tuna.
Snoozing & reading
Admiring our hitchhiker & his balance who stayed the full night leaving at dawn

All in all a very good passage given it can be renowned for being quite nasty. I think John will miss our evening sessions playing Sequence and strategizing against one another. Thanks Jeanette for the Sequence heads up.

Strategizing over a game of Sequence

Once we were checked in we were all ready to use those feet again and walk to the various agencies in SavuSavu to pay our fees, have a meal and drink off the boat and get a decent nights sleep.

Enjoying the views and a cold one at Waitui Marina

Before John left we organized an excursion with Sharon Wild of Naveria Heights Lodge into the jungle to go river tubing and for a swim in a hot volcanic natural pool. A lot of fun and very refreshing.

The tropical forest down to the river was so lush
Just flowing with the current ; watch the rocks ahead John
You just never know what else you’ll spot out here. The cows were very curious as we passed by

Well lots of sunsets to come fo us. John enjoying his last before flying back to NZ. Thanks John!

Looking forward to more beautiful Fijian sunsets

What now? Provisioning at the local fresh fruit n vege market and heading out of SavuSavu to enjoy the diving, snorkeling and people of Fiji.

The produce is so fresh & a good variety at the market

But we couldn’t miss the local rugby game where a team from Suva came over.

Saturday is rugby day with great support from the community for the local team

Now it’s time to get out and enjoy Fiji 🤗