Accessible only by boat, Dravuni Island is situated at the northern end of Fiji’s Kadavu Group, bounded by the Great Astrolabe Reef and renowned for being a diver’s paradise. The reef was named after the French explorer Dumont d’Urville’s ship, the “Astrolabe”, which struck the reef in the 1820’s. There is not much on the island that would suggest we are living in the 21st century. It is one of the Pacific’s most unspoilt destinations and one of the least populated islands in the Fijian island group, with less than 200 inhabitants.
A walk along the unspoilt, palm-lined beach leads you to the inland peak, the highest point on the island. The climb is steep at times but well worth the effort, for what awaits you is a panoramic and breathtaking view of the island and its surrounding reef. We fell in love with a local dog that joined us for the long walk to the top and then again later for a swim on the beach. Our walk up the hill took us past some quaint little houses and a few pig pens which were the highlight for our kids. As we wandered through the village we found out why Fijians have earned a reputation for being friendly, welcoming and hospitable.
A little school catering for Kindergarten to Year-4 aged children overlooks the white sandy beach, the principal happily gave us a tour of the two tiny classrooms and explained that from year 5, students travel to a neighbouring island, where they board for the rest of their schooling. A nearby field station has also been set up here and is used by universities to study the local marine life and surrounding coral reefs. As we visited on a Sunday, all the island’s residents congregated together under a large, thatched roof hut for the weekly church service, led by the school’s principal. No trading was allowed on this day, which made our time there even more special. Only a collection was taken for a neighbouring islands children’s hospital. Once again, it was evident that family, community and faith remained at the centre of their day to day existence.
We couldn’t leave the island without exploring the beautiful reefs offshore. After an afternoon of snorkelling around one of the island’s rocky points, while the kids built homes for their hermit crabs, our fun-filled day on the island came to an end and it was once again time to head back to our ship.
As we left Dravuni Island we were reminded that there are still places in the world that remain relatively untouched, you just have to be willing to explore a little further off the beaten track.
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware
– Martin Buber