It’s the big blue bay. No, it’s the jagged tropical mountains surrounding it. No, it’s the phenomenal harbour for visiting yachts, tucked between shore and a deserted little island. No, it’s the vintage Fiji island town with its colourful buildings and the mix of people.
It’s hard to say what it is about Savusavu that draws repeat visitors and why so many of those visitors end up full or part-time residents with their own slice of paradise. It’s an active community of locals, expats, yachties, and visitors from around the globe. It’s a quirky little place with limited choices for the dedicated shopper – but lots of endearing nooks and crannies.
Savusavu calls itself the Hidden Paradise – and with good reason. It’s off the sunset strip of commercial vacationland, away from the rush of day-glo tourists, bus tours and international hotel chains. Located on Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, it’s a 50 minute very scenic flight from Nadi. You’ll land on a beautiful little airstrip by the sea. Town is about 6 minutes over the hill from the airport, and 8-10 minutes to Daku Resort. From Daku, Savusavu town is about a 25 minute walk along the sea – or a three minute taxi ride.
Town is a mile long and has nearly everything you need lodged in colourful buildings facing the bay. You’ll find a mix of cafes, funky Indian shops, a Hot Bread Kitchen, hardware stores, video stores, a well stocked bottle shop, a post office, ANZ and Westpac banks, two supermarkets, and an outdoor/indoor fresh veggie and fruit market where you’ll find all the home grown goods – plus a great handicraft market run by local Fijian women.
If you want to get a feel for Savusavu, you could start off at the Copra Shed, a wooden building with its own wharf which was once used for loading copra from the coconut plantations onto the boats to Suva. It’s home to two restaurants with a shared kitchen: the Captain’s Table, the more formal one with views across the harbour, and the Captain’s cafe, a less formal set-up and still some great views. Check out their fruit smoothies too. You’ll also find the Savusavu Yacht Club at the Copra Shed, where you can enjoy a drink whilst looking at the yachts in the harbour.
Talking restaurants, one of the best restaurants in town, Surf and Turf, run by Vijendra Kumar is to be found at the far end of town in the Waterfront Building. Vijen has worked as a chef in some of Fiji’s top resorts, and opened his own highly popular place in 2007.
Then walk through town and browse the shops. You’ll find t-shirts and casual wear at Solanki’s, and if you want him to run you up a dress or a beach wrap. he has a tailor’s shop at the back. Further on, there’s the market where you can usually find papaya, water melon, bananas and pineapple. At the back, there’s a handicraft shop that offers things like tapa cloth, wooden bowls and shell necklaces. The market is behind the Town Council which you’ll recognise by the two extraordinary carved stone lions – a unique piece of municipal decoration in the South Pacific!
A bit further on the Hot Bread Kitchen sells fresh bread, buns and cheese rolls; Chhaganlal’s store is crammed with fabric, fishing lines, stationery, and a little section of tourist items that are fun if you’re looking for a souvenir. At the end of town the green Waterfront Building houses Bula Re, another good restaurant where you can eat or just have a fruit juice or an iced coffee.
There’s lots more… but you’ll discover it all for yourself. J Hunter Pearls sell beautiful pearl jewellery made from their own pearl farm in Savusavu Bay; Karen Bower’s shop in the Copra Shed has a range of paintings by local artists (herself included); and beside her is Koleta’s shop which has local crafts, some attractive clothes and good postcards; Solanki’s and Chhaganlal’s both have a wide array of materials, t-shirts and small souvenirs.
Just outside of town you’ll find local villages and fantastic scenery – yours for exploring. Rent a car for a day or hop on a bus and really see Fiji.
Complete information on visitor facilities all around Fiji is provided in Moon Handbooks Fiji by David Stanley.