I was at Horizon Beach Backpackers one day and I met a German that frustrated with Nadi’s “ATM culture” (white people are just money machines). He wanted to go to Kadavu. He had heard about the kava from there.
We went to Suva that is a few hours away and found the Valesasa Trasportation Company. It is by Coca-Cola. Just look in a phone book in Fiji for the exact address. It left on a Tuesday evening around 10pm or so.
The next morning we landed in a place called Vunisea which is the capital. This is the “big city” (and only town) in all of the island. It is so small that the Post Office doubles as the Super Market.
The welcoming party
The very first people from Kadavu that I met was the local weed dealer! Later, I learned that Kadavu is at the core of the illegal drug trade in Fiji and shortly before coming, DEA, Australia and Fiji worked together to arrested a crap load of people.
When you get to town, there is two little general stores like in old Western movies by the water and up a steep hill is the Police and the Post Office. That’s basically the town. I would guess that 1,500 of the islands 10,000 live in this “city.” Whatever you didn’t buy in Suva; get in this town for twice the price.
Vunisea is your last dose of civilization until you return to Suva as well.
We went on from there to a place called Kavala Bay. This is a harbor in the middle of nowhere…. litterally. The only thing there is a Post Office and a small school. All electricity is by solar panels. You are truly in unspoiled land. This is the same Fiji that William Bligh found 300 years ago. Little has changed including technology.
This is the beginning of seeing the rough life of Fiji under military junta. Places like Kadavu have very little interest to the government so little investment makes it their way.
Private investors in tourism is their own hope. The little resorts around give the locals the other money they can get legally beside kava farming that is really a long term concept.
Finding a place to stay
The resorts are stupid high. Talking $200 a night. Matana Beach Resort seems to be the best one but very pricy to say the least. We did not want to spend $1,000 for a week on the island and from what I could see on Youtube; it just wasn’t worth it.
We was running out of options and though we was going camping right at the landing there or hoped someone would give a living room to crash on. We learned very quickly that Kadavu was not backpacker friendly whatsoever.
There was a man there that was picking up gasoline named Michael that his dad use to run Albert’s Place but they closed the resort about a decade ago. He took us in and we stayed in one of the run down cottages and cooked on the beach eating rice and what Ramon Noodles for the whole trip.
We also went to the village around the bend to have Kava every day. It was a great time.
Should Backpackers go to Kadavu?
NO! It is not for Backpackers. It is for divers and for people having honeymoons. $100 a night is not a backpacker’s market. If it was not for Micheal, we would have been sleeping in the open praying it didn’t rain.
If you do want to go, try and meet up with some people from Kadavu on Couch surfing or people you meet in Suva or Nadi. Otherwise, you could end up sleeping on the street or some stranger’s porch. You need to be better prepared that we was; that’s for sure.
Oh, and if you can take the other ferry, Grounder Shipping. They have a much better one that was sourced from Canada.