Take in Fiji’s Polynesian Lifestyle

 

Rotuma might well be the most difficult island in Fiji to visit but for the few intrepid travellers who venture to its shores, the journey is well worth it.

A proud and noble group of people known as the Rotumans, who share more traits with their Polynesian neighbours than the Fijians of Viti Levu, inhabit the isolated but beautiful island of Rotuma. Far flung from the rest of Fiji, this tiny volcanic island lies north-west of Viti Levu. July to September might be the most desirable months to visit in terms of weather, but any local will tell you that the six weeks from the 1st of December onwards during the Fara Festival is the time to go. With dancing, parties and plenty of good times to be had, this is when Rotuma comes alive. Before making plans to visit, check out Rotuma’s website for more information and contact locals through the bulletin board for accommodation options.

Birthplace of Current President

Rotuma might be small but its people’s reputation far exceeds the tiny island itself. Indeed, the current President of Fiji, George Konrote, is a Rotuman native who previously served as a Major-General in the Fijian Military and Fiji’s High Commissioner to Australia.


Highlights of Rotuma

Rotuma’s beaches are known as Fiji’s greatest, while the volcanic landscape provides many challenging hiking trails. There’s plenty to see and do to ensure you’ll be thoroughly entertained and entranced by the unique language, culture and vibrancy of Rotuma.
 

Mount Suelhof

Rotuma’s most iconic landscapes has been profoundly shaped by its volcanic structure. A hike to the highest point of the island at 256 metres above sea level, Mount Suelhof, opens travellers to stunning views across the whole island. Don’t pass up the chance to photograph a real life volcanic vent. Known as Mamfiri, the vent is located in between the lookout point of Solroroa Bluff and the majestic Losa beach and has a sheer drop of 25 metres.

 

Rotuma’s Beaches & Water Springs

Water is everywhere on Rotuma, especially on its famed beaches. But if you tire of the seaside lifestyle Oinafa Beach, then head to the magical freshwater springs that are close by. Known to Rotuma as fuliu, these micro-oases are perfect on a hot summer’s day for a quick refreshing dip.

 

Tropical Fruits Galore

Rotuma Island, courtesy of its rich soil, has an abundance of fruits rich in vitamin C. A short hike into the interior will bring you face to face with a plethora of coconut trees along with yams, mangoes, papaya, taro, bananas and melons. Rotuma’s specialty is oranges which are famed for their juiciness and sweet taste, so much so, they are shipped to Suva regularly. Oranges grow in such abundance that they are even used to create an alcoholic orange wine known as te’aon mori.

More Things to Do in Rotuma

 

Surf’s Up

Rotuma is a prime surfing destination with its quality beaches and unparalleled breaks. The beaches of Oinafa, Losa and Vai’oa are generally the best for a decent swell but ask around, the locals are experts in knowing which beach is the best for waves on any given day. Along with coral reefs and a host of marine life, these beaches are as unspoiled as they come with no impact of commercialism and development to detract from the gorgeous scenery.

 

The Graveyard of Kings

At Sisilo Hill, historic stone tombs are the centrepiece for travellers and locals alike. Also called The Graveyard of Kings, it’s difficult to get to this archaeological site but with a trusty local guide, it’s well-worth the effort. The ceremonial platform and stone walls are still clearly visible and their sheer size impresses all who witness them. It’s a good idea to get permission from the local elders before visiting, to show you are respectful of the cemetery’s importance to the Rotuman people.

 

Traditional Kava Ceremony

The local Rotuman villagers are only too happy to welcome you into their village which means you may be lucky enough to participate in a traditional kava ceremony. Kava is a local beverage that’s believed to cause a numbing effect in the mouth. Characterised by the sharing of the kava drink, which is stronger on Rotuma than anywhere else in Fiji, these ceremonies are a highlight for most tourists. Remember to be respectful of the local culture by dressing conservatively and not wearing a hat. If in doubt, ask your homestay family for more information on the Rotuman customs and expectations.


Where to Stay in Rotuma

There are no hotels or resorts on Rotuma Island. Travellers must be invited to the island by locals and arrange homestays in advance.

The Fiji Visitor Bureau in Nadi or Suva can provide the contact details of the Rotuman Island Council, who can advise you on accommodation options, as well as suggested levels of compensation for any family who choose to grant you with their hospitality for homestay options.

Travellers can also post on the bulletin board of Rotuma’s online forum, which may lead to a homestay offer.

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Food & Drink in Rotuma

Like the accommodation, dining options are extremely limited on Rotuma which is why it is some of the most authentic Fijian fare you’ll ever taste. Meals are provided by the families you stay with, so expect simple meals of taro, fish and tinned meat.

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How to Get to Rotuma

From Nadi - For international travellers arriving in Nadi, the easiest way to get to Rotuma is via Suva. Fiji Link is the official domestic carrier of Fiji, offering cheap domestic flights to 12 exciting destinations including Suva.
 

From Suva - Upon arrival in Suva, catch another direct Fiji Link flight to Rotuma (2.5 hours). There is only one flight a week from Suva and the flight turns around straight away so be prepared to stay at Rotuma for at least a week.
 

Once you are on the island, you’ll notice a sandy coastal road that connects all the villages of Rotuma. There is no public transport so you can either catch a ride with one of the locals or set out on foot. The island also has a number of hiking trails that lead to the interior of Rotuma.


Practical Travel Tips for Rotuma

Stores & Supplies

Like most islands that aren't Viti Levu, Rotuma has very few stores and the stores they do have frequently run out of supplies. Before leaving Nadi, be sure to stock up on essentials such as snacks, sunscreen and insect repellent to ensure you are not left wanting.

Cash Only

There are no banks on Rotuma Island. Bring Fijian currency for both general stores and accommodation since they only accept cash and you won’t be able to pay for items with credit card nor exchange currency on the islands.

Village Etiquette

When visiting a local village, ensure you remove your hat and sunglasses. Only the chief is allowed to wear such items and failure to remove these articles will be taken as a sign of disrespect.



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