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Fiji - Presidential Permission to Visit Lau - Oct 1999

Viti Levu, Suva, Denerau, Lau Group

I have now completed a circumnavigation of the Fiji archipelago.  I feel especially privileged to have been able to have visited the Lau group which requires special permission from the President himself.  Very few yachts are allowed to visit these remote and unspoilt islands.  I went to Vanubulavu, a beautiful limestone group of islands set inside a large lagoon.  Then to Lekemba which is the Chiefly Island (where most of the Chiefs and politicians come from) of Fiji. At Komo, a small volcanic island I was fortunate enough to arrive when the village was being visited by a group of government ministers, who were inaugurating a new generator for the people. We were present when the island was "turned on"  for the first time. There was a feast with much Kava drinking and their famous Meke dancing. Our next Island was Fulanga, which, I think, qualifies as the most beautiful group that I have seen. Its numerous limestone islands have been carved and shaped by the sea and are set in an iridescent turquoise lagoon.  Then Totoya, which seemed particularly friendly and we enjoyed listening to the men singing their folk songs - their proud boast is that they are the best in Fiji! - in the evenings while sitting around the tanoa and drinking kava. Last but not least was Moala - again we were incredibly lucky and were present at a traditional Fijian VIP welcome when the President of the Methodist church arrived. The men who orchestrated the ceremony were dressed as warriors; they performed the ritual yangona ceremony, which includes the serving of Kava and the giving of presents to the guest - a huge roast hog, food, woven palm mats and other gifts.

The whole area is of outstanding natural beauty and the people are wonderfully friendly and hospitable. We spent our time foraging for seafood, fishing with nets, diving, cutting copra, eating meals with them in their homes or on board Meniscus and drinking kava.

It will certainly be on my list to visit again next year if I am able to get a permit.

Yasawas Dorado

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