Places to Paddle tm
Canoeing - Kayaking - Rafting


Kadava, Fiji, South Pacific Ocean

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Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Douglas Montgomery with
    Photos by Matthew F. Hudson (Copyright:2000 A Fool's
  • Date Submitted: 5/2002
  • Location: Kadava, Fiji, South Pacific Ocean. The high island of Kadavu is the most southerly of the Fiji Island group. Locals call it "New Zealand lai" (little New Zealand). (Vunisea air strip)
  • Class: 2
  • Distance Paddled: 50 nautical miles
  • Water Level: not applicable
  • Water: salt (ocean), tropical
  • Wildlife: Turtles, sea snakes ( they often patrol the beach at high tide), tropical fish.
  • Special Regulations: Every beach belongs to someone. It's your job to find the owner and ask permission to camp. We bought fresh yaqona root at the market in Lautoka and gift-wrapped kilogram portions in newspaper and string. The premium stuff-- from Vanuatu --is less than $5 a kilogram. Fijian men are universally delighted to receive a package of this, from which they manufacture fresh kava. Armed with this, your big problem is finding the owner of the land to present it to and ask permission to camp. The easy way for us was to begin and end our trip at Reece's Place, a budget resort on Galoa Island, just a couple of miles by truck and boat from the airstrip. Bill Reece showed us on our chart which owners welcomed kayakers. Plus there are other budget resorts around the south side of the island with easy kayak access. The north side of the island, sadly, has only expensive resorts, but there are ample places to camp. Lonely Planet's guide has locations and phone numbers for Reece's Place and other resorts.


  • Directions: You can fly to Vunisea air strip from Nadi or Suva, but if you want a visiting boat permit (It's not clear whether kayaks really need one-- we were never asked to produce it) you have to go to Suva. If you don't have a decent chart of Kadavu (U.S. defense charts are too small-scale), Suva is the place to go for that, as well. Virtually all flights to Fiji from outside land in Nadi.
  • Fee: Small planes fly to Vunisea for a fare of about $100.00. Overweight charges for folding kayaks are about $20 each. (Please also see "Special Regulations" above for fresh kava prices.)
  • Description: We used the dock at Reece's Place.
  • Parking:
  • Facilities:


  • Directions: To keep this paddle a class 2, we landed at Vunisea on the north side, grabbed a $5.00 transport across the island (1/2 mile) and paddled a mile back to Galoa. (Circumnavigating the island would make it Class 4 paddle because of the currents around Cape Washington on the west end of the island. And circumnavigation would add an additional 25 miles to the trip.
  • Fee: $5.00 transport across the island
  • Description:
  • Parking:
  • Facilities: none

What We Saw

There were, in April, strong (15-20 knot) prevailing winds from the east to east-by-southeast on Kadavu (pronounced "Kandavu"), yet for some very good reasons, the practical way to proceed is into the wind up the windward side of the island. First of all, the western end of the island is considered hazardous to small craft because of tricky currents around Cape Washington. The Great Astrolab Reef blocks swell on the south side of the island and the trick is to use a calm morning to paddle out to just inside the reef and follow it east. This will keep you from getting bogged down in heavy swell in SoSo Bay, and allow you to get to Waya Island by the end of the first day (about 14 miles).

There is a reasonably-priced diving resort across from Waya--Matava-- run by Australians. We camped on Waya Island, owing to Bill Reece's connection with the American owners, who are absentee. Bill's brother George is caretaker.

The next day of paddling will get you around to Albert's Place (about 8 miles), another bargain diving resort in a beautiful setting (photo at right).

There is a shortcut on the way through a mangrove swamp. Just remember to turn right after you come out of the swamp-- Albert's Place faces Ono Island.

When we continued on around to the west, we were surprised by the size of the swell following-- there's a big fetch from the Astrolab to the northeast coast of the island. I wouldn't want to have had to paddle into it.

If you want to run this expedition with a minimum of wind, go in September.

Don't worry about Fiji's politics! Everyone will be delighted to see you. This place is virtually unspoiled by tourism.