There are five distinct cruising areas to visit:
* The Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands northwest of the mainland, popular for island-hopping
* Northern and Southern Lau on the east side
* Beqa and Kadavu to the south
* Lomaiviti group in the centre, between Viti Levu and the Lau group
* Taveuni, Vanua Levu and the Ringgolds to the north.
Chartplotter software (based on original surveys), is not always accurate in the more remote areas of Fiji--and can sometimes be up to thirty metres off. Arriving at unknown anchorages during daylight is therefore essential, and cruisers rely on a combination of admiralty pilots, GPS, Navionics and visual lookouts to avoid the bommies and other hazards.
The Pacific Crossing Guide (3rd Edition) by Kitty van Hagen is a great reference.
Sea Mercy--"Sailing with a greater purpose." seamercy.org
Fiji has a tropical marine climate, with slight seasonal variation. The wet season between November and April is most likely to produce cyclones, which are easy to track. Trade winds blow east most of the year.
Australians can obtain visitor visas for stays of less than four months on arrival. With help from David Jamieson of Asia Pacific Superyachts, a team of Fijian customs, immigration and biosecurity officials were flown to the island to set up a temporary port of clearance--and avoid doubling back from Suva or Savusavu; a tough slog against the trade winds.
SAFETY AND HEALTH
Local water is usually safe to drink. Dengue fever is common, so protection from mosquitos is important. There is currently no operational hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in Fiji. smartraveller.gov.au
There are daily flights into Nadi from Australia and New Zealand. Sydney to Nadi takes four hours with Jetstar, Fiji Airways, Virgin and Qantas.
Australian cards work in most ATMs, but few businesses take cards. Plan to use cash.
RACES AND REGATTAS
The Musket Cove Regatta (Sept) Yachting Easter Regatta in Savusavu (April) President's Cup at Denarau Marina (June) Savusavu Regatta Week in Savusavu (July)
Most charter deals include a local skipper with knowledge of the area. Some marinas have private sailing schools. There is currently no bareboat yacht chartering in Fiji.
Denarau Marina in Nadi (Fij's largest)
Musket Cove Marina in Malolo Lailai
Suva Yacht Club in Suva
Levuka Port in the Lomaiviti Islands
Vuda Marina in the Nadi (has a 63-ton travelift)
Savusavu Marina on Vanua Levu (specialises in strong cyclone moorings)
Copra Shed Marina on Vanua Levu (a major landmark, built in the 19th century)
For those inclined to a little on-land luxury, world-class resorts dot the sparsely inhabited outer islands.
In Suva, the Grand Pacific Hotel is not to be missed, grandpacifichotel.com.fj
There is a great array of options around Port Denarau, from the Sheraton (sheratondenarauvillas.com) to TheTerrace Apartments for the budget conscious. (theterraces.com.fj).
Musket Cove Resort is an easy hop over from Port Denarau and well worth a visit. musketcovefiji.com
Vinaka--Please or thank you
Moce (pronounced mow-they)--Goodbye
Io (pronounced ee-o)--Yes
Sega (pronounced senga)--No