What You Need to Know About Sailing in Fiji
The tropical waters and islands of Fiji make for some superb sailing grounds in the South Pacific. There’s a juxtaposition of islands waiting to be explored, from the luxury resort-scattered islands of the Mamanucas to the remote islands and villages of the Lau Group. This sailing guide to Fiji will give you an overview of the sailing regions, as well as important information on customs clearance and local protocols for sailing.
Tips for Sailing in Fiji
- Some of the most developed sailing grounds in Fiji is between Viti Levu and the Mamanuca Islands. The less-developed are the Lau Islands
- You must submit a notice of arrival to Fiji Customs at least 48 hours before arriving in Fiji
- Be prepared with yaqona (kava root) to present at a sevusevu for villages
- Safe anchorages for the cyclone season can be found at Savusavu, Vanua Levu.
For more details and tips, check out 10 Tips for Sailing in Fiji.
Where to Sail in Fiji
Fiji covers a whopping 18,376km2 (7,095mi sq) of the South Pacific with 333 islands. For sailing, there are five main regions from the comfortable and developed Mamanuca Islands to the remote and adventurous Lau Islands.
Sailing in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands
Outside of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands are the most frequented by holidaymakers. The islands are a mix of developed islands with resorts, as well as uninhabited islands and islands with villages. The Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands provide something for everyone with idyllic beaches, snorkelling, diving, fishing, kayaking, island hiking and visiting resorts. There are anchorages at Malolo Lailai and Qalito islands in the Mamanucas and at Matacawalevu, Sawa-i-Lau, Vawa, Naviti and Waya islands. Learn more about visiting these islands in The Complete Guide to the Mamanuca Islands and The Complete Guide to the Yasawa Islands.
Sailing in Kadavu
The waters between the islands of Kadavu and Beqa, the southern part of Fiji, are known as the Astrolabe Lagoon. It is customary to present a sevusevu to the chiefly village on Draveuni Island before sailing in this area. The islands have a good selection of beaches and excellent diving for experienced divers. Yachties might also want to take their tenders up to see the Kadavu Waterfall from Kadavu Village on the southern side of the island. Find out more in The Complete Guide to Kadavu.
Sailing in Vanua Levu and Taveuni
In the northern reaches of Fiji are the large islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, both known for their areas of natural beauty and amazing scuba diving reefs. Good anchorage can be found at Viani and Vatudamu bays at Taveuni near the Rainbow Reef, while Buca Bay at Vanua Levu is another good option. Aside from visiting the islands’ villages, beaches, resorts and reserves, some of the outer islands are worth a sail to, including Kioa and Rabi where displaced South Pacific Islanders present a unique culture in Fiji. Learn more about this area in The Complete Guide to Vanua Levu and The Complete Guide to Taveuni.
Sailing in the Lomaiviti Islands
Just off the eastern coast of Viti Levu, offers some interesting dive sites for serious divers in the Vatu-i-Ra Channel. The most popular island to visit is Ovalau with the UNESCO site of Levuka town, the first capital of Fiji. Yachties shouldn’t miss the opportunity to reach the less-visited islands of Makogai which has a turtle conservation sanctuary, a good anchorage, and the remains of a leprosarium. Gau Island is also worth an anchorage stay, which also boasts some good dive sites. Learn more in The Complete Guide to the Lomaiviti Islands.
Sailing in the Lau Islands
The less-visited islands in Fiji, the Lau Islands is a sailors paradise with a scattering of around 57 islands across the central to the eastern reaches of Fiji. There is almost no tourism infrastructure on these islands, giving yachties a sense of the true South Pacific. Note that you will need to first report to a port of entry before sailing in the Lau Islands, the closest being Savusavu in Vanua Levu. Learn more about these islands in The Complete Guide to the Lau Islands.
Clearing Customs in Fiji
Fiji Customs requires that all yachts arriving in Fiji from overseas must submit an Advance Notification form at least 48 hours prior to their ETA. This same 48-hours notice must also be given to the Ports Authority, Department of Immigration, Health and Biosecurity.
Ports of Entry in Fiji
The ports of entry to Fiji are as follows:
- Port Denarau Marina, Viti Levu
- Lautoka, Viti Levu
- Vuda Marina, Viti Levu
- Suva, Viti Levu
- Savusavu, Vanua Levu
- Levuka, Ovalau Island
Yacht Clearance Process
On arrival to any port of entry in Fiji, yachts must fly the yellow Q flag and contact Port Control who will put you in contact with Port Health, Customs and, Agriculture Quarantine for Clearance upon arrival. Officials will enter the yacht for you to present the following documents:
- Completed Inward Report (including two copies of the crew and passengers lists)
- Completed Passenger Arrival Card
- Valid passport
- Clearance from last port
- Valid outward airline ticket if crew/passenger is disembarking at the port of entry and leaving the country by air.
See the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service website for more information.
Citizens from selected countries get a free four-month Visitor Visa upon entry into Fiji, which is established through completing the Passenger Arrival Card. Part of the Passenger Arrival Card will be detached and given back to you, which you need to keep as it will be required for Immigration again when departing Fiji. Learn more about immigration in Fiji in Do You Need a Visa to Visit Fiji?
Restrictions and Protocols for Sailing in Fiji
Aside from the government protocols for sailing in Fiji, there are some cultural ones that you also need to be aware of.
For many anchorages and sailing grounds in Fiji, it is customary to present a gift to the overseeing village, known as a sevusevu. This is typically yaqona (kava roots), but some of the more remote islands may also appreciate gifts of basic stores, schoolbooks, stationary and both school and medical supplies. It is recommended that you have enough yaqona for the number of villages and village anchorages you intend to use. Check out Fiji Village Etiquette: What to Do When Visiting a Fijian Village for more information.
Marine Reserves and MPAs
Marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs) are areas where you cannot fish or take any marine life from the area. While Fiji has a small number of marine reserves, such as the Namena Marine Reserve, Kiuva “Koula-Mai-Wai” Marine Reserve and Atlas of Marine Protection website.Marine Reserve, there is a substantial amount of marine protected areas, especially around resort islands. See a full list of MPAs in Fiji on the