On a recent diving trip to Pacific Harbour in Fiji, part of my ‘surface interval’ time was spent on a visit to one of the oldest village communities on Beqa Island.
Beqa Island is 20km off the south coast of Viti Levu and a 40-minute boat ride from Pacific Harbour.
It has secluded tropical beaches and a large lagoon protected by a 30km-long barrier reef renowned worldwide for its shark diving, feeding and deep-sea game fishing.
It’s a great spot for adventurous tourists and famous for its fire walkers.
According to legend, over 500 years ago, the men of Beqa Island were given the gift of being able to walk on fire by an eel in exchange for its life.
On Beqa Island, fire walking has traditionally been performed by the Sawau tribe. but these days, fire walking is done by lots of different tribes for entertainment rather than religious purification.
I was thrilled to learn about a new cultural experience at one of the oldest villages in the region.
Mike ‘Shadee’ Hinds, the owner and operator of Fishing Charters and Pleasure Cruises, has many clients seeking a traditional village experience.
He took the initiative of approaching the village elders of Raviravi village and has negotiated landing and visiting rights.
Visitors will be soon be able to walk around a real Fijian village, meet several generations of villagers and enjoy a traditional welcome kava ceremony.
The kava ceremony is a rite of passage for village tours in Fiji. Only after it has been performed are you able to enter and leave the village as you please.
The entire village experience will last around six hours. Guests will depart from Pacific Harbour at 10am. The boat trip to the village is about 40 mins across the protected waters of Beqa Lagoon.
The origins of the name Raviravi can be traced back to over 200 years, when villagers came here from nearby Nakarovu village in the highlands of central Beqa Island, to escape cannibals.
Raviravi means something to lean on and as a village elder explained “we are the people whom others can depend on.”
Raviravi has about 300 people and 60 houses. The largest building is the Methodist church which is also their community hall.
The islanders sustain themselves with locally grown crops such as cassava, taro, plantain, bananas, mango, breadfruit and spinach. The villagers also eat fish caught in local reefs and the ocean.
Visitors will be treated to a lovo lunch. The lovo is a traditional Fijian smoked barbeque feast of chicken, pork and fish wrapped in banana or palm leaves and cooked for two to three hours in the earth on hot stones.
From the lovo pit, there’s amazing view across Beqa lagoon.
Visitors will be allowed to wander around the village freely and interact with the villagers.
The ladies of the Raviravi will demonstrate their craft skills and there will be hand-crafted items and homemade keepsakes for sale.
When is time to leave, there will be a traditional send-off at the water’s edge, with women and children singing Isa Lei, the beautiful farewell Fijian song.
This will be a day out with a difference, an authentic and unique cultural experience with great memories to take home.
If you’re looking for luxury escape in Fiji, try Likuliku Lagoon Resort for a stay in an overwater bungalow.
Find out more about Solomon Islands holidays for a trip to a pristine part of the South Pacific.