The origins of the name Matacawalevu are obvious when you arrive at the village - the long perfect beaches stretches out on either side and on neighbouring islands (including the island of Nanuya Levu site of the famous 1979 film "Blue Lagoon" featuring Brooke Shields). Matacawalevu is a small to medium sized village - just a five minute boat ride from the Nanuya Resort on Nanuya Lailai. This is the last destination of the large yellow catamaran which leaves Denarau Island (Nadi) at 9.15am each day. (Nanuya Levu is better known as Turtle Island).
Your host at Matacawalevu Village is Setoki Lubua who speaks good English and is a respected member of the village's mataqali.
Image right: Your host, Setoki, in the village
As mentioned earlier the village is on Matacawalevu Island in a location bordering several other islands including the very expensive Turtle Island Resort - where Brooke Shields of "Blue Lagoon" fame was filmed (see map). You can visit this beach on one of the activities. Matacawalevu is the only village in the Yasawa's to boast two beaches facing north and east. They are both beautiful and border lovely coral reefs where you can snorkel and explore.
Image right:: the famous Dolphin Beach from Blue Lagoon - right opposite your bure at Matacawalevu.
Not only is the village's locality just a few hundred meters from where Brooke Shield walked along the beach but all the Fijians featured in the film still live in the village you will be staying at - check out the free activity "an evening with 'Cannibals'" where you can meet them 25 years on!
There is Joe Naisali a lovely, larger than life character (who danced with Brooke Shields every night during the making of the film - or so he boasts), Verami Nandriva (the cannibal) and Eramasi Tui (the boogie man) who killed the cannibal in the film. (Their images are on the activities page). Your host Setoki was featured in the film playing a lali (a traditional Fijian drum)!
There are some fantastic activities like lovely relaxing walks around Matacawalevu Island during your Fiji holidays. As you will see on the activities page the fascinating island is normally off-limits to tourists and no-one but guests on village homestays are allowed to snorkel in their waters.
Image below: There are some beautiful views on the walks
Water and Electricity:
Only certain houses in the village have generator driven electricity. This is normally turned on in the evenings. Water is tapped directly from an island stream and is purer than the water you find bottled in stores.
Image right: Sikeli Lolorua and Eramasi Tui (Tui) your activities manager
Fijian villagers are very healthy and believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness.
It is important to note that Fijian villagers are offended by bikinis or scant clothing worn in the village area - be safe and wear clothing that covers the knees and shoulders. Do NOT wear hats in the village.
However, if you go to the beach away from the village treat it like any other - and get a great suntan in a bikini!
There is a shop in Matacawalevu - it is owned and run by Eramasi Tui the man who slayed the cannibal in the film the "Blue Lagoon".
Eramasi also owns the boat that takes you on the adventure tour to the Blue Lagoon beach
Image left: Eramasi manning his shop
There are no telephones in Matacawalevu Village..
Image right: One of the beautiful beaches at Matacawalevu
You will enjoy the most incredible and memorable holiday adventures whether walking along the secluded beaches, collecting shells, or enjoying some of the unique activities on offer. At Matacawalevu you will, from the moment you step into the village, be accepted into the community. You will, in true Fiji-time, be able to participate in traditional ceremonies, like Kava drinking in the "vale ni so qo" (or large community hall), swimming in the sea, snorkeling on the Coral reef, relaxing or visiting the beautiful island beaches on a kayak - or on foot. Alternatively you can just lie under the moon and watch the sea break gently at your feet.
Image right: Bula's (the mother of the home) family meet you on your arrival
It is important to note that the "man is boss" in the traditional Fijian community so you will find the village women doing all the household work, cooking, etc. Tourists to the village are welcome to participate in the kitchen, washing etc... but this is entirely optional although you will enjoy chatting to the women about their experiences at Matacawalevu. All food, washing etc.. is done for you by the women in the village - and these costs are included in the cost of accommodation. Once again you are not expected to do anything but relax and do what you wish, but for those who want to take a step back in time this is an unforgettable experience well worth considering.
If you have children this will be a holiday and experience of a lifetime as they are immediately welcomed into the fold by Fijian kids of all ages - about 50 of them! (Bring a small rugby ball with you and your kids will be kept occupied for your entire stay! Simple things like balloons and sweets are a firm favourite.)
Kids on the beach and...
|my all time favourite pic!|
While the local Matacawalevu Fijian dialect may be spoken by villagers English is understood by the villagers. (Fijian translation of common greetings can be seen at this link).
Matacawalevu is the ultimate backpacker adventure. You are in a safe environment, welcomed into a friendly community from the moment you arrive - and you have the island of Matacawalevu to explore.
The traditional welcoming process:
When you arrive at Matacawalevu there is a very simple traditional ceremony that you can participate in. When the villagers gather in their community hall they welcome guests at a Kava ceremony known as a "sevu sevu". Setoki, your host, in the village will welcome you when you provide a small gift to the village (such as 1kg of powdered Kava - which cost about F$20 or US$10). The kava can be bought at Matacawalevu. Once these formalities are over Setoki will keep you informed of future Kava celebrations, entertainment or other activities taking place during your stay. (A big wooden drum is often beaten to alert villagers of celebrations, church services and other community activities).
More on kava at this link
Image right: Captain Cook Cruises stop at Matacawalevu for a village day visit every Friday - but those on board are not allowed to snorkel in their water - that luxury is reserved for FijiBure.com homestay guests.
Please do not tender credit cards or non Fijian dollars to the village as they do not have those sort of banking facilities - cash is king. There are plenty of ATM machines at Nadi or Letouka. Make sure that you have enough cash with you before you leave Viti Levu.
If you have taken a package tour then you need not take any cash other than money for activities.
There are a couple of travel options open to you to get to Matacawalevu village - take this link.
Gifts and Village Funds:
If you are thinking of bringing gifts consider bringing practical things like books, notepads, pencils, rubbers and sharpeners that can be used in the school. If you have children consider bringing a gift of a rugby ball, tennis balls, cricket gear, balloons etc for the village... a great ice breaker and your kids will have a great time. This option is entirely up to you and is not expected.
There is also a village fund which has been set up at the request of past guests. The village fund is contributed to by guests, but it is important to know that donations are voluntary and you are NOT expected to donate to the funds. The funds are administered by the village mataqali (or elders) without any outside influence.
The two village funds are:
a building fund which is used in identified projects that help the entire community; and
micro-financing - a fund which is used to finance small enterprises that individuals or groups of villagers in each village want to set up. The money is loaned interest free and with no strings attached. The recipient is morally bound to return the money once he has started earning an income from his enterprise so that the money can be used again to help someone else in the village.
There will be a poster in your guest room in the village which tells you more about the village funds, alternatively you can discuss them with your host.
Related Internet Links:
York Times review on "Blue Lagoon"
Blue Lagoon Movie
The world's best resorts
Captain Cook Cruises off Yasawas
Canoe Travel - Fiji, extract:
During breakfast each day, Turtle Island's master of ceremonies, Joe Naisali, who was Evanson's first employee at the age of 17 back in 1972, hauls out a huge chalkboard listing activities offered that day, from sailing to scuba diving to deep-sea fishing.
Sundays, Naisali encourages guests to accompany him to church at his home village on Matacawalevu island across the bay. The Methodist service is held in an airy wooden building with birds nesting in a crevice of the large wooden cross behind the pulpit. The experience is a treat no matter what one's religion, a chance to share an important ritual with people who smile warmly at guests whose fellowship they consider an honor.