The Lau Group is a string of islands stretching some 150 nautical miles from north to south about half way between Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji) and the Kingdom of Tonga to the east. These islands are very beautiful and offer some of the best cruising in Fiji but they are also extremely remote. There are no resorts and no services of any kind so the cruiser is completely on his own out here. So if you go, go prepared.
While we would have liked to explore more of the Lau group, our children had deadlines at home and flights to catch from Savu Savu so our time was limited. Based on various recommendations, we chose Vanua Balavu as our Lau experience of choice. Also known as the Exploring Isles because of the myriad of small islands that ring the lagoon, there are indeed many places here to explore and several weeks could easily be devoted just to this area without seeing it all. This area is reputed to be one of the top 10 best dive sites in the world with much of it, as of yet, unexplored.
The Bay of Islands on the north west side is reputed to be the best cruising that Fiji has to offer (Stick Pin in the upper left). Our first destination, however, was Thikombia (center right side). You can clearly see the narrow reef entrance to the south and west of the island. Our reason for visiting was that Ian (our Captain) who is also a commercially rated helicopter pilot trained a young women from this island – this insured a warm welcome.
This is our daughter Kim taking pictures not he way in.
A few pictures of the village.
We made our Sevu Sevu with the chief and he broke out the Kava bowl.
Paul, Kim’s friend got his first taste of Kava.
The Chief was particularly taken with our son George and Paul – he offered to provide them with Wives. My advice – don’t walk away – run – and run fast. They all thought that was very funny.
A few more pictures taken around the village,
And finally – Paul dressed in his traditional Sulu (wrap) testing out his prowess at pounding kava root into powder for mixing with water.
As you can see from the initial map of the Exploring Isles and Thikombia, there isn’t much protection. While we intended to visit the next day, the winds came up hard from the west and we had to make our escape early the next morning. Our plan was to proceed to the Bay of Islands – the area marked with the stick pin to the north west side of the Exploring Isles but it was not to be. The strong westerly flow made the very narrow entrance passage untenable. Sometimes you just have to take what mother nature gives you – more about that next time.