October 2, 2020 ; 8:27 PM
19°14’S, 178°53’E – Fulaga/Vulaga/Fulanga, Fiji
Keeping track of the different villages, towns, and islands we visit in Fiji is much harder than in French Polynesia. Names are used multiple times (ex. Somo Somo) and many places have multiple names. Or, in the case of our most eastern stop, the name seems to be the same but is spelled differently on official charts, maps, and signs. It’s all very confusing for the outsiders, but it doesn’t seem to bother the locals a bit, so who am I to judge?
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to use the spelling on the village sign- “Fulaga”, but note that the “F” is pronounced somewhere between a “F” and a “V” and the pronunciation suggests an “N” before the “G”.
Now that we’re past the semantics, Fulaga is SO GORGEOUS. Captain Dave’s favorite Fiji spot, and maybe even favorite on the whole trip. The small, limestone islands within the reef (corroding at the bottom so they look like they may tip over) give it a more spread out “Bay of Islands” feel. But the water is more shallow, creating more vibrant and bright shades of blue, and the lagoons are much larger, so there’s more area to explore. The biggest bonus? Big, beautiful, soft beaches around every corner.
Most of our time was spent swimming off the boat, sundowning/picnic lunching on the beach with Max, exploring on the kayak and dinghy, playing frisbee, and generally enjoying the magnificent views at a couple different anchorages.
We had one of the best lobster dinners of our lives, courtesy of the local boys who flagged us down as we sailed into the bay. They sold us the biggest lobster we’ve ever seen (seriously, one lobster tail + 2 arms- no claws- fed all three of us). It was also the greenest lobster we’ve ever seen- so we weren’t sure what kind of flavor we would get. But hot off Gracie Girl’s grill, smothered in garlic and butter, it was cooked perfectly and so delicious.
Fulaga is also home to a village with a unique view on Sevu Sevu. We hiked in through surrounding jungle and pretty flowers to meet the head man and the chief. They were a little more formal than some of the other places we’ve been, spending the time to explain what’s going on in their village and their ways of life, and giving us plenty of time to ask questions. It felt like they really appreciated us being there and enjoyed having visitors. They accepted our kava and welcomed us to be part of their village, even assigning us a host family!
We got to hang out with Arminio, Uhna, and their family in their home. They told us about their family both there in the village and others who had moved to Savu for schooling and other opportunities (including the military). We got to interact with the kids (I really miss kids!) and they made us tea (hot water with lemon leaves) and bao buns.
Most of what the village consumes is grown, hunted, or gathered right on the island. They eat a lot of fish, fruit, and root vegetables and we were lucky that they shared with us, because we were dreadfully close to being out of provisions!
Horror story: WE RAN OUT OF BEER. Still working out how this can be Captain Dave’s favorite place without his favorite carb 😉.
Since the village is so remote, they only receive supplies once a month. We were lucky enough to be there when the supply ship came, so we witnessed a “holiday” for them in which the whole village hikes to the shore of the bay where it’s deep enough for the ship to anchor. They patiently await their supplies as they play and chat on the shore. From what we can tell, they mostly buy butter, sugar, and flour, but they’re also able to get parts for their outboard engines, batteries, etc. when they have the need and ability.
The ship also takes crops back to Savu to sell for the village. We saw them drying out coconuts and hauling vegetables to make a little income. Families were reunited with loved ones who came home and the kids loved having visitors. It was nice to be there on such an important day!
It’s obvious that the village itself has had more help than some of the others we’ve visited. Many of the houses were built of corrugated steel with a strong timber frame and a concrete floor. There’s a community building, and each family has their own solar panel. According to the chief, a lot of this is because of the generosity of sailors who come through Fulaga. The community building was donated completely by a boat who visited just after the last cyclone, which appears to have flattened brick buildings in 2016.
On the opposite side of the lagoon from the village is the pass we sailed in. It’s only about 50 M wide, surrounded by very shallow reef, and complete with coral heads within. At low tide, it’s absolutely necessary to have someone on the bow watching to dodge the shallow spots. It will be nice to have our track from coming in for our passage out tomorrow morning, when the light will be low.
But while the reef makes the skinny pass nerve-wrecking, it also makes for excellent snorkeling. We snorkeled both sides and saw lots of fish, a couple sharks (the Admiral claims one even stalked her), and the most gorgeous coral. I’m talking healthy, multi-colored, huge coral heads. The current was fast on the south side of the pass, so we held onto the tender as we drifted through. The view was a little different than other passes we’ve snorkeled because of gorgeous sand between coral heads, as the reef was less densely packed. It was absolutely stunning and unique and I loved every moment of it. (Apologies for the lack of pictures, I was way caught up in the moment).
We are so infatuated with Fulaga that we would absolutely spend more time here if the forecast wasn’t rain for the next 4 days. We had some spotty showers and high winds while we were here, but there was plenty of time to enjoy the islands as well. Sitting soggy on the boat waiting out downpour for 4 days couldn’t be lower on our list- so hook up is scheduled for 6 AM tomorrow!
First mate, Amazing Grace
TLDR: If you ever make it to Fulaga, and we 10/10 think you should, say “hi” to Arminio and Uhna for us! We’re part of their family now 😊.