First Days in Fiji

The cruising life comes with different phases—boat preparation, passage making, island cruising—the shift between them is swift and their contrasts are striking. In our last 12 days in Fiji, we’ve been enjoying seeing the boat prep and passages recede into memory, and the island cruising begin.

Our first stop was Vuda Point, an area on the west coast of Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu. Vuda is just a few miles south of Lautoka, Fiji’s second largest city. We were there to rest after our passage, file the necessary paperwork to enter the country, and fill the galley with fresh food to take out to the islands.

The paperwork—quarantine, customs, biosecurity, cruising permit—took five days to complete, signifying our official return to island time.

We spent two nights in Vuda Point Marina itself. The staff all gathered round when we first moored, clapping in unison and serenading us with a ukulele. After our first round of bureaucracy we made our way to our berth. The marina was a large circle, and all the boats were tied bow to the quay, stern attached to moorings near the center.

We spent our days doing post-passage chores and watching Lolo, the boat manager, speed around the marina in his dinghy, acting like a tug boat as he maneuvered yachts into impossibly small spaces. There was a fantastic restaurant with nightly trivia (Team Helios fared well: second place on capitals night, first place when it came to general knowledge), and we were an easy 20 minute taxi drive from provisions in Lautoka.

In the marina, Helios was just a few meters and a row of palm trees away from the coast, but the heat was stifling. When our cruising permit came through, we were glad to drop the dock lines and make way for Musket Cove on Malololailai Island.

Just 15 kilometers off the coast, Musket Cove is a decadent cruiser’s playground. Malololailai is one of the Mamanucas, a group of islands famed for luxury resorts and dry, balmy weather.  We joined the Musket Cove Yacht Club, where membership was cheap and featured access to all the delights of modern vacationing. 

I was lucky enough to celebrate a birthday here, spending the morning in the spa and the afternoon snorkeling the reef. At sunset we raised our MCYC burgee and went ashore, progressing from the beachside bar for frozen mojitos to the poolside restaurant for scallop starters and fillet mignon. After dinner, we drank kava and listened to the sounds of the acoustic trio, delighted that the guitarist knew every song we requested. (Although I’ll admit that this otherwise sublime restaurant had an unfortunate name: Dick’s Place.)

Here we are, raising the MCYC burgee:

After three nights enjoying Musket Cove, we raised the hook, cruised through reefs, passed resorts under construction, and anchored at the northeastern tip of Malolo Island. There’s a golden beach lined with palm trees and bungalows, as well as ten other islands in view. We’ve been paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling, sleeping, snacking, and soaking up the good times.

On the docket for today is a reef dive and jaunt out to a nearby islet; on the docket for tomorrow is a cruise back to Viti Levu, where we will pick up our next passenger—my mama!