Coastal Tranquility: Eight Great Sea Kayaking Spots

Fiji: South Seas Adventure

If you're looking for a true Polynesian paradise, forget Hawaii or Tahiti, and head for Fiji. Long-recognized as a world-class dive venue, Fiji is also an excellent kayaking destination, with scores of idyllic islands, warm, crystal-clear waters, and spectacular coral reefs. Apart from the main island of Viti Levu, most of Fiji has escaped commercial tourist development. On the outer islands, life is quiet and simple, free from the burdens and pressures of the civilized world. You can still walk down a perfect white sand beach and not see another soul—or wade out on the reef at sunset and pick up a lobster for your dinner. The villagers are among the friendliest people on earth.
If ever there were an antidote to civilization, Fiji is it. Most westerners visiting Fiji go there to dive, or just sit on the beach. However, with so many islands situated so close together, Fiji was made for sea kayak cruising.

For novice paddlers who want a relatively slow-paced adventure, make arrangemetns to spend 10 days in the Yasawas, a chain of 16 small islands covering a 50-mile stretch of the Pacific. Paddle and sail double kayaks among the islands, camp on pristine beaches, and visit small island villages. Azure waters within the reefs defy description—with visibility of 150-200 feet, it's like paddling in a giant swimming pool. Highlights include Turtle Island (site of the movie Blue Lagoon), and the wild limestone caves of Sawa-i-Lau island.
Another attractive option? Explore the 10-mile-wide Natewa Bay on the idyllic island of Vanua Levu. Launch from one end of the bay and paddle south, camping at select beach campsites equipped with toilets and showers. For most paddlers, the wilderness camping is the highlight of the trip—a chance to get away from it all in a true tropical paradise. Natewa Bay's sheltered waters offer calm conditions well-suited for novices. The pace is easy—you can paddle a single or double open-deck kayaks just three hours a day on average, allowing plenty of time for side trips to snorkel, fish, visit rainforests, or meet with local villagers.
Kadavu, the fourth largest island in the Fijian chain located south of the main island of Fiji, is a beautiful, unspoiled island, a bit cooler than the more frequented islands to the north. Kayakers begin in the village of Muani, and paddle to an offshore island inside a barrier reef, where they set up camp off a secluded bay. There is great snorkeling just 20 feet off the beach, with crystal-clear waters and exotic, colorful fish and corals. The barrier reef protects the bay from surf, making for smooth, safe kayaking. From Muani, kayakers then work their way up the coast to Cape Washington (Nabukelevu), stopping at palm-fringed beaches to snorkel and fish, and make friends with local villagers.
Practically Speaking
Unless you bring your own craft, however, you must go with a commercial outfitter, as there is no rental inventory on any of the islands. There are several companies that run guided sea kayaking trips in Fiji.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 31 Jan 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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