Deep Blue South

Sea Kayaking in Fiji

Sep 19, 2001
Outside Magazine

In the remote villages of Fiji, some of the locals mark important events by spending the evenings drinking kava, a mildly narcotic brew made from the dried root of the pepperlike yagona plant. A suitable occasion, for instance, might be your arrival by sea kayak. On Vanua Levu, Fiji's second-largest island, Eco Divers-Tours will lead you on a five-day kayak expedition along an indented coast to remote villages still unacquainted with conveniences like electricity. The kayaking in Savusavu Bay is grand: On short open-water passages you might divert your course to get a closer look at a spouting pilot whale. Or on the Nasekawa River you could exchange greetings with a farmer who is amazed that you have come from such a faraway place—i.e., Savusavu town, about six miles distant.

But the best reason to make the trip is the opportunity to spend the night in the villages and experience the true Fijian lifestyle and hospitality. You'll stay in the villagers' homes, eat their food (taro, cassava, corned beef, raw fish, or just about anything else marinated in coconut cream), and sleep on pandanus mats on the floor. If you're lucky, you will sit up with them well into the night drinking kava prepared from the yagona root you presented as a gift upon your arrival. After enough bowls full of the chalky-tasting liquid have been passed around, you might learn from your hosts that the lower you are to the ground, the longer you will live. That trees have eyes to see and ears to hear. And that it is far better to spend money on a child's education than on electricity.
The five-day trip is around $760-1,025 per person for groups of two to ten, including all meals, hotel accommodations for the first and last night, and kayaks; call 011.679.850122.

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