Written by Brittany Cooper
Photography by Luke Noble
Since visitation and chartering regulations were relaxed in 2010, Fiji has become a superyacht hub of the western South Pacific, with visitation numbers set to keep increasing over coming years. Clearance paperwork has been cut down to one piece of paper, which can be printed from online. The Government has reduced its levy to 10 percent of the gross charter fee and allows vessels to stay for three continuous periods of six months, now issuing a Coastal Trading Permit costing FD3220 that can cover multiple charters. The superyacht industry provides Fiji with a revenue of about AU$25 million annually.
The country occupies an archipelago of 333 breath-taking islands, approximately 110 of which are inhabited. They range from large and volcanic with high peaks, with remote villages and tropical rainforests, to sand keys, coral atolls and rugged limestone cliffs.
As well as being an important marine pit-stop for sailing vessels, it is an excellent superyacht destination, with no shortage of safe anchorages, magnificent coastlines, undersea marvels, welcoming people and, importantly, a modern and professional support industry.
Fiji’s coral reefs, the bane of European mariners, served as a natural protection from western colonisation up until midway through the 19th century. As a result, Fijian culture has preserved a largely non-commercial attitude towards land ownership. Land and natural resources are shared between extended family groups. The two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, are home to roughly 87 percent of the population.
For those inclined to a little on-land luxury in the mix, world-class resorts dot the sparsely-inhabited outer islands. The Grand Pacific Hotel is also worth a visit if you find yourself in Suva.
There are five distinct cruising areas to visit:
During the cyclone season in the summer months, trade winds of 15 to 25 knots die down, producing calmer conditions to cruise more remotely.
It is important to be aware that chart plotter software, based on original surveys, is not always accurate in remote areas. It can at times be as much as 30 metres off, so not of great help in an unknown anchorage. For this reason, arriving during daylight is advised.
When visiting towns and villages, it is important for both genders to cover the shoulders and wear shorts or sulus (sarongs) that cover the knees. Wearing a hat or sunglasses into a village is considered disrespectful. A very popular drink amongst locals is kava or yaqona (pronounced yang-go-na), an earthy, mildly intoxicating concoction made from the root of the pepper plant (Piper methysticum). When visiting rural villages, it is important to bring some kava roots to give as an offering to the local chief as a sign of respect.
Local water is usually safe to drink. Fiji is free of malaria, landmines, terrorism and Zika virus. Avoid other mosquito-borne illnesses by covering the skin at dawn and dusk and using repellent.
Superyacht services are being expanded in Fiji, with four new developments underway that are projected to be completed in the next couple of years, and long-term plans for a further 200-berth marina across from Port Denarau.
Ask a skipper:
“From a captain’s point of view, Fiji has a good logistical set-up for provisioning and clearance. It’s absolutely gorgeous and not hard to get guests into some wonderful areas.” Matt Stafford, Captain of M/Y Masteka II
Ask an agent:
“The Pacific is one of the fastest-growing cruising grounds for superyachts, with its pristine waters, beautiful islands, friendly people, island cultures and reputation for safety.” David Jamieson, Asia Pacific Superyachts
Bula! – Hi, hello
Vinaka – Please or thank you
Moce (pronounced mow-they) – Goodbye
Io (pronounced ee-o) – Yes
Sega (pronounced senga) – No
Read the full guide in Ocean 77