Fiji - 1984

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Local villagers. Child trying out sea kayak. Typical bure.
Friendly villagers, NE Fiji. Happy child trying out a kayak Chief's bure on a small island.

Scribe: Laurie Ford.
In 1984 three paddlers from Tasmania joined with six other paddlers from Sydney, and Thursday Island, and took sea kayaks to Fiji (by plane), where they paddled out the long Yasawa group of islands, and then circumnavigated the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu.

The Yasawas stretch out about 100 miles from the NW of Fiji, a chain of over 50 islands. These islands are still as they were years ago - no electricity, no roads, possibly only one tap for water for the whole village, and many of the villages still use thatched bures to live in. However, due to the cyclones which regularly devastate some regions, many houses are now being constructed of concrete slabs, concrete blocks, and iron roofs.

The weather report everyday was "The weather will be fine", and so it was, day after day. We dived on coral reefs, lived in native villages with the Fijians, and dived in the underwater cave on Sawa-i-Lau Island, where parts of the film 'Blue Lagoon' were shot. We dined with chiefs, and took part in a few all night 'Kava' parties.

The participants varied from experts who had represented their state or country in competition paddling, to absolute novices who were virtually having their first experience in a kayak. At least five different types of sea kayaks were used, all fitted with sails and rudders, hatches, decklines etc.

At some of the expensive tourists resorts/hotels we were welcomed with open arms, and offered full use of their facilities (including free accommodation at one), while at one we were told in no uncertain terms to get the hell off their island. These miserable buggers located Cec and I about 10 o'clock one night and made us move on, resulting in a night paddle in unfamliar reef infested waters.

Extract from the trip report.

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