Fiji Last Resort Pacific Harbour
Last Resort Fiji
Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour
The first six photos show the recent investment in the Pearl Resort comprising a very posh reception area and a three floor accommodation building curving around the small marina like the globe glass of a goldfish bowl and Zoonie was one of the goldfish. 18:15.62S 178:04.29E
“I must remember my port from my starboard,” a beaming Frank apologised once we were nicely tied up. Rob had asked him ‘which side to’ to put our lines and he said “Port”, so when we arrived there he was on the starboard side pontoon of the space. Port side to him I guess!
Millie came aboard and we signed a form and paid for one night. Rob was looking forward to a few nights of marina comfort with the hope we would be able to hire a car here and visit The Sleeping Giant Gardens leaving Zoonie in total safety from the ever changing elements. That proved impossible but I will explain that later.
A wedding was in full swing when we arrived, the bride being conveyed from beneath the wings of the great silver bird to the secluded modern events building overlooking the Beqa Channel with Beqa Island and Yacuna in the distance aboard a golf trolley with two of her bridesmaids clinging on precariously as the trolley rode up a slight hill.
We were watching from the bar area, elevated and behind the shapely swimming pool full with gleeful children.
The day was overcast with darker clouds threatening rain and I felt sorry for the bride, “I wonder where she has come from with her entourage hoping for the perfect Fijian wedding?” The word Fiji is synonymous with blue skies and waving palms; well she had the latter in the rising wind.
The next morning was Sunday and as we had been told the car hire desk would be open we wandered across hoping the arrangement would be a formality. ‘Sleepy Head’ was on duty. Either she was the life and soul of the party the night before, or she had had an incredible night in other ways or she was working off the drugs. Rubbing eyes and lazily pinning back her hair she barely showed any interest in us.
We heard the now familiar story of the nice little economical car being unavailable, so why don’t they have more and why can we not pay the same for whatever box on wheels is awaiting a spin. By a number of not previously mentioned additional costs she suddenly came to life with the words “That will be $247 for the day.”
“No it won’t,” I said aghast and glancing at Rob’s astonished _expression_ we thanked her for her efforts and rose to leave. She smiled, closed her eyes and went back to her dreams.
We decided to wander down to the Pacific Harbour area of buildings and gardens just down the road for lunch and revise our plans over a glass of wine.
Around 1970 an ambitious and expensive concept was built in the form of two story buildings with shops and restaurants below and apartments above around extensive water-gardens, giving a Willow Pattern scene. It was built to encourage locals and expats to populate it and this probably happened for twenty years or so. I imagine it was a government sponsored scheme at the time. The Indian owned supermarket proudly sponsored the local school, not the maintenance of the Fijian cultural buildings.
A Fijian lady was sitting on a bench outside the shop she has owned and run there for 34 years. While Rob restocked his wallet from the ATM I chatted with her. She originated from the biggest village on Matuku and knew all about the occasional re-appearance of Burotu Island. “You’ve actually seen it rise up?” I asked.
“No, not me but my ancestors did!” Her family is spread far and wide now and the shop is her livelihood and conduit for human contact.
Wandering further in to the labyrinth of shops and water lily ponds we noticed how the wood is rotting underneath peeling paintwork. What was once a substantial and wide wooden ramp leading up to the first floor (maybe for wheelchairs) was now broken with rot and cordoned off, so the entire upstairs of one building was derelict.
Out back the waterway became a lake surrounding an artificial fortified hill (imagine the cost of landscaping that) topped with a fine typical Fijian chiefs meeting house. Cultural events were once held here but although nature still thrived there was litter in the water, broken pipes, closed bridges and walkways and a general feel of human interest having moved on.
We awaited our light lunch while sitting overlooking a vast pond. Coaches and hire cars stop by for some food and shopping as Pacific Harbour is conveniently sitting beside the main Suva to Nadi road. Remember I mentioned the surf and dive centres bring people to the Beqa Lagoon from the mainland, well their shops and offices were here. So while the original intention for building this place did not last it seems that the advent of adventure, high thrills tourism may be its saviour. It seems to be at the moment.
We sat with two Jehovah’s Witnesses for happy hour that night. One was originally from Italy, married a New Yorker from the Bronx who had died two years ago and the other with her husband used to own the resort we anchored off in Malumu Bay a few nights before but didn’t seem to want to discuss it. They remember when there were cultural events in the PH village, but no more for these two expats.
With the promise of a serious blow arriving in the next few days we decided to move on to Lami Bay anchorage in Suva Harbour. It is a tiny bay tucked away from the main shipping area and right next to the main road, so we thought we’d be able to get in to Suva easily if we wanted. The marina was not expensive, $50 per night (£19) but then anchoring was free.
Millie arrived just after 6.00am the next morning to help us with our lines, well actually to give us our £1.53 electricity bill and she told me the cheapest rooms on the best deal in the low season were around $250 and past visitors preferred the old accommodation block with its bigger, homelier rooms overlooking the sea.
The entrance to the river is very narrow and shallow and that was why we were leaving on the 6.00am high tide. Grey clouds were scudding across above us and the water was bouncy even in the lagoon, the full force of the south easterlies blowing our way.
Safely through our generous gap in the barrier reef we turned east towards Suva when something caught my eye. High and dry on a reef and lying at an angle of around 40’ to the horizontal was a yacht, facing outwards towards us with its mast still attached. So it cannot have been there long. Rob contacted Suva Harbour Control to report the name of the reef and our position while I took Zoonie over to see if there was anyone needing a rescue.
What I thought looked like a yellow anorak turned out to be a rust stain on the hull. With Zoonie hovering a few metres from the reef edge it became clear there was no one on board so we resumed our course. ‘Ivy Rose’ who was the only other cruising yacht in the marina came on the radio,”Zoonie, Zoonie, we followed you out of the marina, is it you that is in trouble on the reef?” Rob put him right and as they were bound for Kandavu their course was diverging from ours rapidly, but he would have come to help of course.
Later he told us the ferro yacht had been bought by an Indian who had paid a skipper to take it somewhere and that person had promptly run her aground about a month ago. I wondered if the skipper was used to pangas that draw a few inches!
So here we are in our pretty little bay with its evening migration of fruit bats to watch. We have been invited to ‘Me Too’ for drinks tonight and yesterday afternoon we made our first attempt at finding the local waterfall. We will try again later.
Yesterday morning we walked the 20 minutes to Lami Village and found a market, supermarkets, a bakery, butcher, fish shops and a very well supplied yacht shop. In fact all we need except Customs and Immigration for clearing out.
Rob surfed the internet and found the timetable for the express bus service to Nadi Airport from which we can get a taxi to the Gardens of the Sleeping Giant but first we have more wind and rain coming and will remain with Zoonie until we get a calm, sunny day.