Kiteboarding in Nananui Ra - Fiji
by Rob Munro (email@example.com)
The Island is a 350 hectare island roughly triangular in shape with steep hills, many scalloped bays, white sandy beaches and mangroves. It's a quick and inexpensive option for getting away from the Nadi area. Most locals are of European decent so don't go looking here for Fijian culture. Flat water, shallow reefs and plenty of wind, makes this one of the best kept secrets in the Fijian chain, although many know the island, it is yet to be ruined by too many people...
How to Get There
The Kings Road around the Northern Viti Levu, between Latoka and Suva has some beautiful scenery and is recommended for travel by bus, taxi or car, but if you choose the car option, beware! This Main road is not a safe one as animals, people and some of the oldest cars known to mankind can be regularly seen sitting on the road. We took a taxi from Nadi which costs about F$80- one way. It takes roughly 3 hours to get there, with a stop in Latoka for food and other basics. The Taxi driver will drop you at the Ellington Wharf which has a small cafe and waiting area. A great place to meet some locals! The Boat trip is another F$20 return (This is arranged by the accommodation people.) Most taxi drivers will offer to show you the sights along the way, do not stress, this is normal and part of the trip. Tipping is not required either.
Where to Stay
Firstly, all the accommodation places have generators and they are only on in the AM and at Night (until 10pm). Once they shut down there is total darkness and no noise other than Cane Toads, and other night creatures. There is NO TV, internet, mobile phones or the likes, so if you are looking to get away from it all, this is an ideal place.
We stay at McDonalds, which has self contained units on the beach starting at F$65 per night. They have all of the essential cooking bits and pieces, but it is hard to be a Masterchef with what is provided. Maxine, who owns the place, is the grand-daughter of one of the original island owners, and the other two accommodation places are owned by other relatives..... local gossip, scandal and more, are not rare on small islands and this one has them all. The staff and the owners go out of their way to make your stay a welcome and enjoyable one, and at the end of your time you will want to return!
Maxine - Mc Donalds tel / fax 6694633
Rob - Betham's tel / fax 6694132
Charlie's Place tel 6694676
There are a couple of other places to stay although these are not near the sailing area. Most places book up quickly, so make sure you book ahead and just do not show up.
Food & Drink
McDonalds and Bethams both have in-house restaurants which are pretty good. You need to pre-order your evening meals and light snacks are available during lunch. They have a few "Theme" nights, but it is not overly commercial or tacky. Kava nights are fun, and one to try.
One of the best things about Fiji are of course curries! With roughly 50% of the population of Asian decent or origin, the curries are authentic and tasty! On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the curry man arrives from Rakiraki and provides pre-cooked curry with Roti for F$3.50 and Samosa are F$1.00 each. Most excellent! If you do not like curry, you will once you try the man's food!
The local Beers ar Fiji Bitter and Fiji Gold. Both great for the first few..... Kava nights make the beer taste even better, and the usual mixed drinks and wine are available from the 2 bars. If you can fit it into your gear, buy booze at the airport (spirits) as it is expensive once on the island. Beer is F$5.00 per bottle. The water is pure rain water, so it is safe to drink, but the water from the tap is to be left to washing and the likes.
Rob's Shop at Bethams is stocked with most things, but at a premium price (food & drink.)
You can also head into Rakiraki for the morning and visit some of the markets and shops. They do not take credit cards, so make sure you have enough cash. The ATM's also do not work with none Fijian cards.
The conditions are ideal for intermediate to advanced riders, but learning here is a little dangerous. There is a lot of reef and the beaches are covered by palm trees. The water is flat, warm and very clear. The 2 times I have been to this island I had 6 out 9 days and 11 out of 13 on a 12m kite. The winds come in mid morning and stay until dusk. You can be on the water for 6 hours at a time! The winds blow side shore from the launch area and onshore towards the bottom of the bay. If you do get in trouble, you will come in on land. Basically do not go too far out! A lot of windsurfers come here for their hols from NZ during the June / July months, but so far only a handful of kiteboards come. There is a guy who rents windsurfing equipment, but I do not know his name.
One side of the Island is blown by winds and the other escapes them, which provides an ideal place for a family or for a couple who has a wind hating partner! The waters are very warm and are great to spend time swimming or snorkelling, which is a great thing to do before the wind arrives. Or before a curry!
Other things to do
The island has 2 dive centers which provide excellent diving, including coral, reef sharks, wrecks and plenty of fish! They go out most days and you get great value for your money. They are not large outfits, so you can be diving with only the Instructors! The two companies are Ra Divers and Crystal Divers. Snorkelling is also good on the island with plenty of close reefs, but a lot of these are damaged, so you can hire a local boat to take you out to some of the better ones.
Fiji is an excellent place to visit and has many islands, which have waves, wind and perfect conditions, but I must say this..... you needn't travel as far away as this place when you live in SA.