Fiji: Yadua Island

After touring through Fiji’s Mamanuca and the Yasawa Groups, we travelled east across the northern edge of Bligh Waters to Yadua Island. We’d initially planned to anchor only one night, to break up the run from the Yasawa Group to Namena Marine Reserve at the eastern side of Bligh Waters. But we liked Yadua so much we spent four nights there.

We anchored first in Cukuvou Harbor, on the west side of Yadua. Within minutes of our dropping anchor, a boat arrived carrying the chief of Denimanu (at the back of the boat wearing a white shirt in the picture below). Denimanu is the only village on Yadua, and their chief controls the islands and its waters. In traditional Fijian culture, all land and water is controlled by a village. Visitors should make a sevusevu offering (present) of kava root to the chief as a way of asking permission to visit. (Kava root is used to make a mildly-narcotic drink that is consumed throughout Melanesia.) Typically the visitor goes ashore to meet the chief, and the sevusevu offering is made as part of a ceremony that could be short or might last several hours. In this case, we made our sevusevu offering (the bundle of kava behind the man at the bow) on the water. The chief welcomed us and said we could snorkel and go ashore etc.

A trail led from the center of the south beach at Cukuvou Harbor up and over the ridge to the village of Denimanu on the northeast corner of the island. The views were fabulous. The picture at the top of this post is looking over Talai Bay (Porpoise Harbour) at the south side of Yadua. Cukuvou Harbor is partially visible at the right of the photo. In the first picture below, James is looking down into Cukuvou Harbor Dirona is barely visible as a small dot in the right side of the bay. In the second picture below, Jennifer is looking north towards Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, from the navigation light atop Yadua. The trail continued down from here to the village.

Talai Bay looked so appealing from the viewpoint that we ran the boat around the next day. We had to run the length of Takinamulo Reef to enter an opening at the west end. The reef was a fair bit further south than we expected, and radar overlay showed that the charts were in fact off by several hundred feet in that direction, but we had reasonable visibility to any hazards.

Talai Bay is exposed to the southeast and likely would be rough should strong southeast trade winds develop, but we had wonderfully calm weather the two days we were there. Yadua Taba Island, at top left in the picture of Dirona below, is home to the rare Crested Iguana and became Fiji’s first wildlife sanctuary in 1980. Public access is not permitted, and the bay we’re anchored in also is a marine protected area, with no fishing allowed. Pita Biciloa of Denimanu village, Senior Ranger for Fiji’s Yadua Taba Wildlife Sanctuary, stopped by to explain the sanctuary rules and get some basic information about us for his visitor log.

Takinamulo Reef looked amazing for diving as we passed by, and did four excellent dives there. Our first dive was at the out reef, just around the corner from the entry channel. The hard corals were amazing, and we saw many of the soft corals that Fiji is famous for. Particularly noteworthy was a colony of Pulsing Xenia, whose tentacles pulse rhythmically to sweep away oxygen .

We did a second dive right at the entry channel. The topography here was a little more interesting, with steeper drop-offs and lots of seafans.

The next day we found a way out through the reef mid-way along and dove a set of fingers that protrude south from the reef. The topography here was amazing, with channels, tunnels, caves and several swim-throughs. Definately the best dive of the four we did here.

We ran out to Navicugu Reef for a final dive, and dove the south end of the closest detached reef. The fish life here was the best of all four dives, and the topography also was quite interesting.

Click on the image at left for a live map-based version of our complete trip log through Fiji.

On the live-map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://www.mvdirona.com/maps/LocationCurrent.html.


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