Port Denarau - 17° 46.227S 177° 22.876E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 26 Jul 2012 08:22
After a very peaceful night anchored at Vitogo it was on again, this time under sail with more 'normal' winds, not too different from the forecast this time! None of the forecasts we use predicted the wind of yesterday, and they include New Zealand Met Services (one of their areas covers the Fiji Islands), Fiji weather services at Nadi and grib files. The strong winds that came out of the blue were experienced across Fiji and we heard that a couple of boats on the west side dragged their anchors on to reefs. Our route today started with another passage between the reefs before passing along the water front of Lautoka and on, out into the open sea to come down the west coast of Viti Levu. While it is open compared with the northern passage within the reef, this whole part of Fiji is surrounded by an outside barrier reef, around 20 to 30 miles offshore, so it's protected from most of the ocean swell. Our route continued a further 5 miles or so to the south across the bay in front of Nadi (pronounced Nandi), Fiji's 3rd City, where Fiji's international airport is located, to Port Denarau where we picked up the last of a dozen or so mooring buoys. Port Denarau is a fully modern tourist complex and a cross between Port Solent, Gunwharf Quays, Wentworth and a small airport! Not that there are any planes, but lots of suitcases and bags of every description are being wheeled here there and everywhere. Port Denarau is the gateway to the offshore Mamanuca and Yasawa islands. They're the long established resort areas of Fiji and boats go out to them throughout the day, linking with the arrivals and departures from the international airport at Nadi. Within the complex there's a full 18 hole golf course, perfectly manicured with palm trees, bunkers and water features, a string of international hotels - eg Sheraton, Radisson, and a marina village. In addition to the boats taking people out to the resorts, there are other pleasure boats that take people out for day cruises to the closer islands. The waterfront here is also lined with restaurants of all types, so with all this and all the posh shops, the area is full of the hustle and bustle of people. It couldn't be more different than the deserted Vitogo Bay we left this morning!   
The scenery coming along the north coast of Viti Levu is quite different to Savusavu and Vanua Levu. From what we could see, there's very little rainforest with the hills being covered in grass and nowhere near as green. Coconut palms are in pockets here and there, unlike Vanua Levu where the hills are covered in dense rainforest and coconut palms are everywhere. This, the western side of Fiji, is supposed to be a lot drier, so whether it's too dry for rainforest or it's all been cut down, we don't know. It will be interesting to see what the offshore islands look like.