Sea change in the South Pacific: All year-round yachting born at Nawi

Nawi Island Marina

Nawi Island Marina, located in Fiji’s North, is a game changer for South Pacific sailing tourism. The newly built marina’s heavy-duty construction and subsequent cyclone rating, opens the door to full year cruising in Fiji.

For sailors crossing the South Pacific one of the most critical questions is… Where to keep one’s yacht safe during cyclone season? Nawi Island Marina’s state of the art construction means not only can sailors leave their vessels in Fiji during the summer months – but can also cruise the country’s charming archipelago secure in the knowledge they have the perfect bolt hole in the event of a tropical cyclone. Leaving the cyclone risk belt In November, usually to head south to New Zealand – a distance of 1200 nautical miles – can be a hazardous passage.

Typically cruising yachts are faced with removing their vessels to Southern latitudes or to place their vessels on land – in ‘coffin pits’, in Fiji, to ensure their boats are protected.

The horse shoe shape of Nawi Island Marina, nestled in a tropical bush covered basin creates a perfect cyclone ‘hole’. Nawi’s configuration of heavily constructed concrete pontoons positioned between piles of wide diameter and extra height is designed to handle category 5 cyclones. Nawi is built with a purpose in mind.

Lynne, front house operations manager, at Nawi Island Marina, said ‘We are delighted to be able to provide a safe haven for yachts wishing to remain in Fiji during cyclone season. At Nawi Island Marina our berths and pile construction mean cruisers can spend more time in Fiji exploring our island archipelago; enjoying our beaches, culture and activities such as scuba diving – as the vessels do not have to be lifted from the water.’

Summer in Fiji is humid, with lighter winds, making spending time at remote anchorages a true pleasure. These remote anchorages can be difficult places to visit during the South Easterly trade winds season – between May to November. Being the off-peak season there are generally fewer people around – even less than the usual – Fiji’s north is generally unpopulated.

Nawi Island Marina ‘In water cyclone protection’

Video: Nawi Island Marina Savusavu, Fiji

Professional delivery skipper, Martin Papay, at Captain Pacific commented, ‘I’ve had my yacht in Nawi Island Marina for 2 seasons now and have great trust in keeping it there during cyclone season.’ ‘As a safe in water – storage facility Nawi Island Marina excels. Geographically the marina is extremely highly protected inside a small horseshoe bay, surrounding by hills, up a wider creek and inside a surrounding bay.’

The security and staff added a further dimension of security when I have been outside of Fiji. Nawi Island’s haul out service becomes operational in May and adds a whole new dimension to keeping a yacht in Fiji. The Valaga boat yard will cater for boats up to 75 Tonnes and 8.6 metres wide – so this includes most of the ever more popular cruising catamarans. The travel lift catamaran haul out is the most advanced in Fiji using a sling to lift vessels as opposed to a trailer.

‘Northeast Cruising Opens Up’

Nawi Island Marina - Rabi and Kiao islands are two off-the-beaten-track anchorages
Image: Rabi and Kiao islands (Image Courtesy of East Rand Studios)

Rabi and Kiao islands are two off-the-beaten-track anchorages isolated from the outside world and graced with majestic beauty. They are both accessed only by boat and are significant as they are inhabited by communities of Polynesians from Tuvalu and Kirbati respectively.

The Lau Group of remote islands, accessed from Nawi, are the jewel in Fiji’s already splendid crown. Remote and world renowned for their beauty, the Fijian government stopped issuing cruising permits to the Lau Islands in the mid 1990s due to concerns the communities there for being negatively impacted by visitors. They were reopened to cruisers in 2012. Fiji is very protective of its remote islands and any vessel visiting the islands to be very respectful of their way of life

Fiji’s signature soft coral reefs, which led Jacques Cousteau to label Fiji ‘the soft coral capital of the world’ are concentrated in the Northeast of the country. Summer sailing reaps rewards for cruisers wishing to dive world famous spots such as ‘Jerry’s Jelly’ on Rainbow reef in calm weather.