Savusavu - Port Guide
Where is the ship/how to get to the sights?
Sunny and possibly rainy year round. Tropical storms are possible, especially September to November. Temperatures are usually between 24-30 degrees Celsius, and weather usually sunny.
Sights & Sites
- Vuadomo Waterfall – This was the main attraction I went to visit here and it was really a joy to behold. Negotiate your local taxi driver rate and ask if the rates for the waterfall are included, as a tribute must be paid to local villagers to allow access to tourists to this natural wonder. Bring your swimwear and comfortable walking shoes for the walk from the car park to the falls. You will walk through part of the local cassava and kava plantation on the ten minute walk from the car par to the falls, and if you’re with a guide, they’ll point out the plants to you. Local children will likely follow you here form the village below, where your driver will pay your tribute. The children are funny and sweet and will likely show off their daredevil skills, jumping off rocks at the side of the pool for your amusement, and applause. If you want to pay them a little tribute before leaving, it will be graciously received with huge grins and they’ll happily pose for photos with you if you let them see the photos afterwards.
- Nakawaga Waterfall – Another truly beautiful waterfall, the access to this one is easier, so this is the one on the ship’s guest tours. Both this and Vuadomo waterfall are really beautiful to see, and swim in and both worth the trip. If you have time, do both, if not, Nakawaga is best for ease of access, and Vuadomo is best for getting the most local flavor.
- Vuadomo Village – This village is situated just down the hill form the falls, and you can stop to take a tour here by one of the local inhabitants. They will ask for a tip for this, which is fair enough, and they’ll show you how they live. The village is small, and very poor, with the shack like homes not having any mod cons like electricity, hot water or of course any air conditioning. The locals are very humble, kind and proud to show you around the little they have so you can see the real rural life in Fiji. Houses are mostly on stilts to stop floods destroying them in rainy seasons. The locals here are economically very poor, but rich in community spirit and support each other, all working on the plantation nearby, and make the most of what they have. Their attitude is one to be admired in my opinion.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau Point for snorkeling – This snorkel point has around ten species of reef fish living here, including some bright neon tetras and angel fish. The visibility isn’t ideal though, and only around five feet (1.5 metres) in front of you at most. Our local guide advised us to go in the water from the beach on the left, and follow the crop of rocks where the fish are around to the right, and exit the water at the small rock beach on the right.
- The town of Savusavu – The town itself has lovely stalls, a fesh fruit and veg market, small handcraft market inside it, local fish market at the back, a couple of banks, a post office if you need to post anything, some restaurants and several local bakeries spouting the tantalizing scent of freshly baked bread.
- Savusavu Farmer’s Market – The scent of pineapple lets you know you’re in the right place. Ready to eat fruit is for sale outside, while herbs, spices, vegetables and a small craft market in the centre is found inside the market, as well as a fish market at the back.
- Waisali Rainforest – You can take a tour or taxi out to see or explore the lush Waisali Rainforest and see the many plantations on the way. With no snakes or monkeys on the island, many species of birds and frogs are the main inhabitants you’ll find here.
- Flora Tropica Gardens – Again, taking a tour or taxi you can view the gardens.
- Hot Springs and thermal mud pools – You can take a tour or taxi out to view the thermal springs and mud pools.
The town of Savusavu has a plethora of stalls set up when ships are in touting their wares of local handicrafts, jewelery, and earthenware. The town itself isn’t too tourist friendly for shopping as is just a small working town, but a few stores can be found with beach attire and accessories. The local Savusavu Market has a large choice of local fresh fruit, vegetables, herds, spices and kava roots on sale, as well as having a small craft market in the centre of it.
If you only have two hours
Savusavu town is only 5-10 minutes walk away so you can take a stroll in and enjoy the stalls, local shops, and market in town. If you need to exchange or withdraw money, there is an ANZ Bank right in the centre across the street from the market. The local bus depot is there also, where you can enquire about the times of the next departures to check out some of the scenery in the countryside.
What is it known for?
The lighthouse out on an outlying small island and the snorkeling area nearby it are one of the main attractions. Snorkeling past Jean Michele Cousteau point has a decent amount of reef fish, as well as further along some caves where white tip reef sharks can be spotted. The Vaudomo and Nakawaga Waterfalls are two of the main things to see here, and are stunning and well worth the trip.
Food & Drink
In Savusavu, the market is the best place to find fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs and spices. Pineapples and mangoes are cut up and prepared ready for you to eat for $1 Fijian dollar (about 50 cents USD) at the outside stalls. The juicy scent of them will entice you to them regardless of it you’re actually hungry or not. Inside, the scent of spices and herbs, demonstrates locals for use in their daily home cooking buy the Indian influence in Fiji’s cooking with a myriad of spices here. Beside the general market is the fish market, where you can view the fresh catch of the day. In stalls just along from this, adjacent to the bus depot, are some tables with local ladies selling their ‘fish packed lunches’, which consist of local fish cooked, with cassava, other vegetables and hard boiled eggs all wrapped up in coconut tree leaves like a packed lunch. The fishermen, bus drivers and most local business workers buy their ready to eat, fast , filling lunches here for just $6 Fijian dollars (about $3 USD) and it tides them over for the day. The fish parcels are portable to easy to take to the waterfront to eat as a tourist or back to their respective places of work for the locals.
As with Fiji in general, don’t expect much in the way of Wi-Fi. The only place I saw Wi-Fi offered was in the Captain’s Café in the building right off the tender platform. Wi-Fi is offered here for paying lunch guests, but the prices here are more western tourist prices than local Fijians. You can buy Internet cards to use with your phone in Fiji, which are of certain time limits or megabyte limits in some stores. If you purchase these, check the details of the product available carefully.
There are two ANZ Bank branches in town where you can use the cash machines to take money out, or exchange other currencies for Fiji dollars. They ask for ID, a crew ID is sufficient for crew members, and for guests a government issued ID like a driver’s license or passport (or photocopy of a passport) is accepted.
Karen’s Top Tip
Get out of town and see as much of nature as possible here. The two waterfalls are stunning, refreshing and really make you feel like you are on an island paradise. I booked my tour pier side with local driver Avinesh, and went snorkeling and then to the Vuadomo Falls and loved it. Leave the ship wearing swimming attire as the best things to do here, involve getting into the water.
My experience here
I have been to Savusavu for one day, and it was a bonus to have seen it, as I was on IPM, but a kind friend decided not to go out into port, so called me at 11am to let me know I could go in his place. Since I hadn’t expected to be able to go out, I hadn’t researched it, as it would be a port we would stop in only one time.
I am very glad I did get to see it though, as Savusavu is a natural treasure. After taking the ten minute tender ride over to the island, I asked for some info from the apparent info booth just outside the building by the tender. This was actually the tent for Moana tours, which only gave info on the tours they booked. I arrived at 11.45am, as going to open tender, and therefore crew shore leave, took a long time that morning. The morning busier tours had already departed. I spoke with a lady from Moana tours asking about the waterfalls as that was the only I’d already heard about the island. There would be a tour at 12.45pm, if they got more takers for it, but as yet no one had signed up. The cost was $38 USD, but I negotiated it to $30 crew price. There would also be tour at 1pm going to the beach and to see (but not go in) the hot springs and thermal mud pools (these are far too hot for human skin to be in them at over 700 degrees Celsius). Both tours would be the same price and last about two hours. We started to walk towards town to think about it for a few minutes, when a friendly-faced local taxi driver named Avinesh offered to take us the Vuadomo Falls leaving now. We negotiated for him to take us to the falls and also a snorkeling spot for $30 USD each, with the tribute for the falls included and off we went. We stopped at Jean-Michel Cousteau point to find about ten species of reef fish, and not great visibility, but still worth the trip. We spent about half an hour in the water here.
Once dried off, we made the half hour drive the other direction to the Vuadomo Falls. On the way there, Avi took us to Ottota Point to get a detailed vista of the town of Savusavu and its surrounding rainforest and plantations.
We stopped briefly at the village of Vuadomo where a local elderly gentleman offered us a tour of the village. We were short on time, so politely declined, Avi paid our tribute for us being granted access to the falls to him, then we parked at the car park by the start of the walk to the falls themselves. Three local boys of aged about 4-8 came running up the hill smiling and waving, having followed our taxi up here. We followed them along the ten-minute hike through rainforest and plantation to our prize, the gorgeous sight of the Vuadomo Falls at the end, cascading into the cool water of the pool below. We ditched our outerwear and jumped into the water, and Avi joined us. Another large taxi full of ship guests and our musician friend Scott appeared and joined the water antics. Swimming around the pool was refreshing and delightful, and we swam under the flowing heavy flowing falls to try to get to the other side and peer through. We took an array of fun photos splashing around in the water and applauded the local boys as they jumped off the rocks at the side of the pool for their new audience. After about half a hour of playing in the water, we dried off and headed out. We tipped the boys for their aquatic show, and were rewarded with big cheesy happy grins as thanks, took a photo with them (showing them it of course, which they loved), then headed off back into town. Avi dropped us in town, after recommending a place for local fish to us (the fish parcel ladies by the farmer’s market) and a tiny Indian restaurant ‘Mum’s Kitchen’ on the main street, as we’d asked his advice on where to try some Fijian and Indian food. We thanked him, and said our goodbyes after swapping Facebook information to be in touch the next time we were there and to recommend him to other tourists.
Our plan was to get a fish parcel from the ladies near the market to sample something Fijian and very local, then try one dish from the Indian restaurant to try some local Indian fare too.
However, we found the fish parcel ladies only accept Fijian dollars (unless you are happy to pay double the cost in AUD) and we’d ran out, so we walked across the street to the ANZ Band to exchange some currency. Having accomplished that, we started walking back towards the fish parcels, but first went in to see what was on offer in the Farmer’s Market. The sweet tart scent of juicy fresh pineapple at the outside stalls invited us to try some, before we headed inside enjoyed viewing the herbs, species and vegetables that the exotic aromas were coming from. There was also a small craft market in the middle of the produce, and a section at the back was the fish market, cleverly storing the catches of the day in freezers with labels on them so as to keep them fully fresh and hygienic.
From the farmer’s market, we strolled along the line of small restaurants intending to end up at the fish parcel area to procure lunch, when a overpowering scent of freshly baked bread kidnapped our nostrils and commanded us to follow it. We spied a tiny local restaurant with only about four items on the menu, and sniffed inside, and the smell seemed to be coming from there, so we went in to order. We chose fried fish with cassava and piti. The four dishes, which were written on the menu as variations of fish, cassava, piti (which I still don’t know what it is), and coconut milk and all ended up being the same dish no matter what you ordered. We ordered one to share. While waiting on the dish to be ready, enquired as to the source of the fresh bread scent and that we’d like to order whatever is making it. I was told the scent was coming from somewhere behind their building. We were happy with the very homely tasting lightly fried tuna steak that we were presented with, swimming in a delicious pool of think coconut milk sauce, surrounded by spicy green spinach and carrots, and with a side dish filled fill boiled cassava, which is the tropics answer to the potato. We ate the meal with gusto, paid our cheap price of $6 Fijian ($3 USD approx.) for the meal and went on our way to find the real source of the scent. Soon after walking behind the restaurant, we followed the scent, as it got stronger to the source, which was the ‘Savusavu Bread House’. They sold long loaves for 75 cents Fijian, and buns for $2.30 for 12 of them. That was it. We bought two long loaves to bring back to the ship that were still warm and crusty and crunchy and felt and smelled divine.
At this point, our intention had been to go over to ‘Mum’s Kitchen’ and sample an Indian dish too, but the smell of the bread made us decide instead to take the bread on the ship and eat (some of) it with some local jam we bought in Bora Bora.
My Most Memorable Moment
My favourite moment in Savusavu was swimming around in the cool, calming waters by the Vuadomo Waterfall. It really is a stunning paradise location, and swimming under the strong current of the falls above you is amazingly refreshing. The local boys jumping for our amusement was so cute, and a lovely moment of connection with the local community, and a reminder that kids will be kids wherever they’re from and can be happy with very little, and so can we as adults, and that technology isn’t everything.
Video coming soon…