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Bula Bula from Fiji

June 29, 2014

Our son Justin, wife Joann, and our three-year-old grandson Caeden joined us aboard Persephone on June 14. We spent the afternoon shopping in Suva before heading out to the islands the following morning. Our destination was the islands enclosed by the Great Astrolabe Reef 40 miles south of Suva. The trip proved to be bumpy and our guests were a little green, but all agreed it was worth it when we dropped anchor off Dravuni Island.

We launched the dinghy and headed to the village where we presented kava to chief Kiti in a sevusevu ceremony and gave his wife Marian one of the mahi mahi we caught on the trip over. We had visited Dravuni on our first trip to Fiji so we brought in our ship’s log from 25 years ago and had fun catching up on where everyone was living today. Isaac and Joe offered to guide us to the northern reef passage for a little diving and fishing and chief Kiti and Marian invited us back the next night for dinner. The meal was great but the real party started afterward when they brought out the kava bowl and others from the village stopped by for a little “grog”. Joann was in full Fiji mode and was an immediate hit with the village women as she went head-to-head with Marian drinking “high tide” bowls of kava.

We spent the next 12 days moving between villages and uninhabited islands with white sandy beaches. On Ono Island we were led by four children on a hike through a pine forest to a ridge above the village. The children were fascinated by Caeden and they all had to pinch his cheeks and rub his hair. This became a little overwhelming at the school where he was surrounded by 40 kids all wanting to touch him.

At the village of Solotavui on Kadavu Island we were adopted by Sally who took us on the 1 mile hike to the waterfall where we swam in the pool and let the cool water beat down on our heads. Afterward we had lunch with Chief Charlie followed by kava. At high tide we took the dinghy and explored a narrow channel through the mangroves. Before leaving we brought Sally and some children out to the boat where Caeden shared his electronics with the kids as Sally watched with amazement. She was thrilled when we showed her a video of our visit to her village 25 years ago.

The diving highlight of the trip was the famed Naigoro Pass on the Great Astrolabe Reef. We anchored near the pass and contacted Bruce O’connor the local Fijian dive master and arranged to drift-dive the pass. It was wonderful to relax and let the current guide us through the pass knowing that Bruce would pick us up at the other end. We saw beautiful soft and hard corals and schools of fish. Joann was pleased that the sharks had taken the day off and were not visible.

We had planned to spend our last night in the islands back at Dravuni where the village promised to throw a big feast with kava, food, kava, dancing, and more kava. But Caeden became ill with a high fever and we had to leave a day early, much to everyone’s disappointment. We made a quick stop at Dravuni to say good bye and pick up Fluora who needed a ride into Suva. We then set sail on a close reach and headed back to the “mainland”. We hooked a very large mahi mahi while cruising along at 8 knots which Justin and Brian muscled in.

We arrived in Suva early enough for Caeden to see a doctor and get the necessary medicines. He slept through the night and was back to normal by morning; whew! We said our sad good byes as our family boarded a cab that would take them to a resort hotel for their last night in Fiji. They called us that night to tell us what a stark contrast there was between the catered resort life and the sincerity and true friendliness of the islands that most visitors will never know.

Today Sandie leaves for two weeks for the States to take care of some business while leaving Brian with a list of boat chores. We plan to head for the Lau Group of Fiji upon her return.

Caeden & Brian enjoy an evening dip at Dravuni

Caeden & Brian enjoy an evening dip at Dravuni

Joann getting down with Marian at Dravuni

Joann getting down with Marian at Dravuni

We enjoyed lots of "grog" on Dravuni (Mark and Joe in forefront)

We enjoyed lots of “grog” on Dravuni (Mark and Joe in forefront)

Caeden playing with school kids on their lunch break

Caeden playing with school kids on their lunch break

Justin and Mark hanging out

Justin and Mark hanging out

Peaceful anchorage at uninhabited Namara Island

Peaceful anchorage at uninhabited Namara Island

A funnel cloud touched down on the water two miles from our anchorage

A funnel cloud touched down on the water two miles from our anchorage

View from the top of uninhabited Yaukuve Lailai

View from the top of uninhabited Yaukuve Lailai

Joann brings in dinner

Joann brings in dinner

Figuring out where to go next

Figuring out where to go next

Kids love lollypops

Kids love lollypops

Kids playing in Nangera on Ono Island

Kids playing in Nangera on Ono Island

Caeden is fascinated with lizzards

Caeden is fascinated with lizzards

Our guides on our hike on Ono Island

Our guides on our hike on Ono Island

Exploring the mangroves on Kadavu

Exploring the mangroves on Kadavu

Our friend Sally from Solotavui guided us to the waterfall

Our friend Sally from Solotavui guided us to the waterfall

Enjoying a dip at the waterfall

Enjoying a dip at the waterfall

Solotavui waterfall

Solotavui waterfall

Solotavui waterfall

Solotavui waterfall

Solotavui waterfall

Solotavui waterfall

Caeden with Solotavui friends

Caeden with Solotavui friends

Brian and Chief Charlie in Solotavui

Brian and Chief Charlie in Solotavui

They provided the kava and we provided the Fiji Bitter -- GREAT COMBO!

They provided the kava and we provided the Fiji Bitter — GREAT COMBO!

Caeden sharing his electronic gadgets with friends

Caeden sharing his electronic gadgets with friends

Selfie of Justin & Joann in Naigoro Pass

Selfie of Justin & Joann in Naigoro Pass

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

Marlin & Nemo

Marlin & Nemo

Large scallops in Naigoro Pass

Large scallops in Naigoro Pass

Sandie in the Pass

Sandie in the Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Brian drifting along the "purple wall" in Naigoro Pass

Brian drifting along the “purple wall” in Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Naigoro Pass

Bruce helped us with the drift dive in the pass

Bruce helped us with the drift dive in the pass

Justin went aloft for a better view.

Justin went aloft for a better view.

Justin and Fluora on the trip back to Suva

Justin and Fluora on the trip back to Suva

"Fish on!"

“Fish on!”

Big mahi mahi

Big mahi mahi

Justin negotiates a kava buy in the Suva open market.

Justin negotiates a kava buy in the Suva open market.

From → Travel

2 Comments
  1. Looks like an awesome time in Fiji! The reef looks just as beautiful as I remember it. I love that you all got the local experience. And sounds like Joann fit right in 🙂

  2. Yvonne Miller permalink

    Awesome as usual!! Thanks for sharing your adventure!!

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