The vast Pacific Ocean is calling. With seemingly endless expanses of every blue imaginable, it’s the perfect time to set sail to Fiji. Winding your way between jewel-like islands of emerald and bronze, you’ll discover the magic of the Fijian Islands. You’ll discover a land of spectacular diving and snorkelling in the soft coral capital of the world. You’ll marvel at lush forests cloaking jagged rock outcrops, at the foot of which vibrant coral reefs sparkle with life. Then add cascading waterfalls and vibrant local culture – making this the perfect sailing destination. Are you ready to sail to Fiji? Here’s our guide to planning your journey, including suggested routes, insider tips, and important things to consider.
Sailing from New Zealand to Fiji
Fiji to New Zealand by boat distance
Most cruisers and superyachts depart from Auckland when sailing from New Zealand to Fiji. To get an idea of the distance involved, a straight run is approximately 1150 miles. However, some cruisers may depart from Opua, north of Auckland. This cuts around 40 miles off the journey.
How long to sail from NZ to Fiji?
Superyachts will typically cruise at 10 knots on a straight run to Fiji, taking around five and a half days to get there. Cruisers and smaller boats can take between seven and ten days.
The best time to sail from New Zealand to Fiji
The end of May is the best time to leave NZ because after this the trade winds start to pick up. You can spend three to four months soaking up the magnificent Fijian islands and reefs before it’s time to head back home or onto your next destination. Plan to depart Fiji by the start of November – the start of cyclone season in the South Pacific.
Superyachts usually sail directly to Fiji in a straight run. Many cruising yachts and smaller boats take the option to stop at a magnificent reef called Minerva along the way. This is an incredible location teeming with abundant marine life. It’s also the best place to shelter if the weather unexpectedly turns nasty. If this happens, prepare to spend a few days or weeks hiding out in the spectacular spot. Also, be aware that leaving Fiji for New Zealand can be tricky at times because it’s absolutely crucial to wait for the right weather pattern. Plan a one to a two-week window to allow for delays to your departure. If the weather is looking settled, on your return trip you’ll likely experience winds of around 15 to 20 knots until you pass Kadavu. After this, the trade winds will have greater influence. The voyage is usually smooth. As you approach New Zealand, conditions can be rougher and maybe more unpleasant.
Sailing from Australia to Fiji
Distances and how long to sail from Australia to Fiji
If you’re planning on sailing from Australia to Fiji, there are a greater number of ports you might depart from, including Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Bundaberg or elsewhere on the east coast. For example, a straight run from Brisbane to Fiji is around 2000 miles. As a result, it’s very important to seek advice for your specific port of departure.
To sail from Australia to Fiji, you can plot a course via Vanuatu and New Caledonia. This is an excellent route for cruising yachts and smaller boats to replenish food and fuel supplies – or as a place to hunker down in bad weather. Alternatively, you can choose the more southerly route via Norfolk Island. The wind may be a bit on the nose on the way to Fiji but will likely be smoother on your return journey. If you’re not on a strict timetable, you might like to spend some time exploring the countries you pass. Each has its own unique character. Similar to New Zealand, the best time to sail is at the end of May. Plan to return by the end of November but avoid travelling to Cairns this close to cyclone season.
Naturally, you can sail to Fiji from the other Pacific Islands. Sailing from Tonga is around 450 miles and takes between two and three days. You can either approach from the south around Kadavu or through the Lau group across the top. Alternatively, you can sail from Tahiti to Fiji, usually starting in Panama. From French Polynesia to Fiji is approximately 3000 miles and takes around ten days. You can also explore Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Keep in mind, however, that the trip back to Tahiti can be unpleasant with the wind on your nose.
Where to get charts of Fiji’s waters
Sourcing accurate charts of Fijian waters can be very challenging. Recent, reliable charts don’t exist for many areas. For example, the outside edge of the Yasawa island group has charts which range from bad to completely non-existent. To safely navigate Fijian waters, we recommend you seek local advice on your proposed route. Local yachting agents can give you guidance on safe passage.
Best navigation apps to use in Fiji
While there’s no substitute for seeking advice from those with experience, there are some navigation apps that can be handy. For instance, Ovitalmap gives you an overhead satellite view of the area you’re sailing into. It can be helpful for spotting reefs, bommies and other hazards that may not be chartered.
Things to keep in mind
Each country you visit has customs and border control requirements you’ll need to comply with. You won’t be permitted to just stroll right in. Generally, when you leave your port of departure, you’ll need to notify your next port of call that you’re headed that way, with further updates 72 and 24 hours prior to your expected arrival. You’ll need to book a time for Customs and Immigration to come to your boat to do the required checks. You must formally enter Fiji at either Port Denarau, Suva or Lautoka before exploring any of the 330 Fijian islands and their waters. You’ll also need to apply for a cruising permit. Finally, you’ll need to ask for permission to anchor in any bay in Fiji. Take books, fish, old clothes or kava as a gift for these occasions. Sailing to Fiji is the adventure of a lifetime. Make the most of your journey by doing your research and starting off well-prepared.