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Matuku - an attractive destination in Fiji's Lau group

by Island Cruising and Down Under Rally 2 Apr 03:56 UTC
Matuku - an attractive destination in Fiji's Lau group © Island Cruising NZ

The little island of Matuku lies in the south-western Lau, half-way between Kadavu and Fulaga. Even though Matuku could be a strategic stop-over for yachts on the way to and from the Lau, hardly any boats stop there and have no idea what they miss.

The island covers an area of 57 km2 with seven small villages on its shores and a lush, mountainous interior. It is surrounded by a lively barrier reef and a narrow, navigable turquoise sparkling lagoon with some mangrove areas and long beaches - a destination perfect for divers, snorkelers and surfers as well as hikers and bird watchers!

Pass and anchorages

Many islands in Fiji's Lau group feature beautiful landscapes and friendly villages, but most of them lack good anchorages. Bays that look wonderfully protected on charts and sat pictures give you some serious rock and roll—especially during high tide.

Matuku features two safe, protected and comfortable anchorages:

The main pass on the west side is wide and can be safely navigated in most conditions (except maybe strong westerlies). Both anchorages are located inside that pass.

Coming through the pass proceed straight into the deep bay of Lomati that has a muddy bottom with good holding and is protected in all wind directions but NW. It takes a bit of patience to let the hook sink into the mud, before gently pulling on it, but once it's set it's set!

The second option is to turn north once you are through the pass and anchor behind Wailangi Island in 15 to 20 m in sand with protection from all winds but SW and S.

Another possibility is to turn south after the pass, follow the reef channel and anchor off the village of Makadru, but this anchorage is more difficult due to numerous coral heads and not as calm and protected as the other ones.

Warm welcome

Visitors to Matuku can expect a warm, traditional Fijian welcome and your host family will be happy to invite you for Sunday lunch and show you around the island. Boats that anchor in Lomati Bay should do their sevusevu in the little village of Lomati, those who anchor behind Wailangi should take the dinghy northwards around the corner to the main village of Yaroi and if you decide to anchor off Makadru you can take your bundle of kava ashore right there!

The headmen of all three villages are involved with the Matuku Marine Reserve and will gladly give you more information about the protected area and the best snorkel spots. The Marine Reserve needs to be patrolled to keep poachers out, so maybe you would like to leave a small donation to help the villagers protect their environment! The headmen will also find guides if you would like to do some hiking or a surfing trip.

Buy local produce and kava

The islanders are keen to attract the yachtie fleet this year and they are already preparing vegetable gardens in order to supply visiting crews with fresh produce!

Kava is grown on the island, so you can stock up on sevusevu for other islands instead of returning to a market on one of the main islands.

Hiking

A network of trails connects the villages along the shore from Yaroi to Natokalau in the North and from Lomati southwards on the west coast via Raviravi to Makadru, on to Levukaidaku in the south and up to Qalikarua on the east side with beautiful views and endless beaches.

An inter-island trail leads from Lomati Bay over the ridge to the east coast, passing by the highest mountains and featuring great views.

Snorkeling and diving

The villages installed 3 large no-fishing tabu zones in the west, south and east of the lagoon to guarantee sustainable fishing and to give the eco-system with its mangroves and pristine coral reefs a chance to recover. Species that have become rare find a haven here and the area will be a breeding ground for the rest of the lagoon in the future. With spear-fishing no longer allowed it is home to large, unafraid fish—just the kind of experience snorkelers enjoy in shallow areas, while the beautiful coral formations in the deeper parts of the reefs should appeal to free divers and scuba divers. The biggest and most attractive Marine Reserve covers the whole area between the main pass and the village of Yaroi and is easily visited by dinghy.

The many passes into Matuku's lagoon make it an attractive destination for surfers of different experience levels. Surfing Matuku has been an insider's tip in the surfer community for a while, make sure you ask a local guide about dangers and where to go!

Birgit and Christian have been cruising in the South Pacific for 11 years. Check out their blog www.pitufa.at for more info about the Matuku Marine Reserve and other projects as well as cruising guides to French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. Their books "Sailing Towards the Horizon" and "Cruising Know-How" are available on Amazon

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