Category Archives: Fiji

Port Denarau Marina Preparations

We head into Port Denarau Marina for provisions, laundry, a shipment, and to meet my cousin Jeff who is visiting for a few days.  Lots to do in a short amount of time but it always seems like it becomes a hurry up and wait situation.

We made a reservation for a mooring ball from 12-16 October with the hopes of completing all of our errands and projects.  Hope being the operative word.  However, when we arrived they had no space for us on the moorings so they put us in a berth.  Wow, ok.  Scramble to get the lines and fenders out and in we go with 20+kts pushing us around the tiny slip.  But, we made it safely with no issues with the marina’s help.

Early morning on the dock at Port Denarau Marina.

The good news is we are on a dock which makes it super easy to do a lot of our projects.  Matt starts off with washing down the boat using the marina’s fresh water (yeah, not our hard earned fresh water from the watermaker).  While he is busy doing that I take 3 loads of laundry in and make good use of their industrial machines.

Bring on the Heat

Yes, it is super hot and humid in Fji, but I am talking about actual heaters for Sugar Shack.  No, I have not lost my mind (well….).  It is darn cold in NZ and our current heaters onboard no longer work.

Matt had been in communication with Espar Michigan/Espar Parts in MI and with Heatso in CA (both in the U.S.).  Heatso responded with information on the wrong part at first so Matt sort of wrote them off.  Espar responded, but then went radio silent for months.  When they finally responded we were in a red hot rush to get the parts shipped to Fiji while we were here.  Why do you ask?  Well it is easier to import parts into Fiji than it is into NZ.

Long story short, Espar didn’t have all the parts and pieces.  They wanted to ship a partial order and then ship the rest to my cousin Jeff who was flying to Fiji to meet us, but even then they couldn’t get the order together to make it work.  Their communication was less than stellar and their stock was horrific.  They just couldn’t get it organized.

As a last stitch effort, Matt contacted Heatso again.  It was a thursday afternoon.  The owner said he had all of the parts and could ship everything out the next day.  He answered all of our questions, called to confirm all the measurements and pieces, and offered us a 10% discount because we were buying 2 kits (without me even asking – which you know I would have done).

Heatso sent the large box overnight to Fiji Freight in California, our freight forwarder who received it on Monday. Fiji Freight then put it on a plane and sent it to Fiji. It arrived Tuesday, cleared Customs Wednesday evening and was delivered to us on Thursday!  The delivery from CA to Fiji within a week of contacting Heatso and Fiji Freight!  Now how about them apples!  Whoop Whoop!  Talk about amazing service from both Heatso and Fiji Freight.

This will have to be a project for another day, but at least we have the parts!

Errands & Projects

We brought in our propane bottle and got it refilled, made several trips to the trash and recylcing and picked up my cousin Jeff. All made easier being at the dock.  But alas, all good things come to an end and we had to move out to our morring.

We had loads of preparation before our passage.  Matt prepared pre-cooked meals and froze them; we stowed a lot of stuff; got out the jacklines, ditch bag, first aid kit, PFDs, foul weather gear, and priority bag (for computers/phones/paperwork); refilled both diesel and gasoline, tested systems (Iridium, PredictWind tracker), re-scheduled our prewritten blog posts, and prepared our Fiji departure paperwork & our NZ entry paperwork.

Help on the Passage

We did not have much time with Jeff so we tried to make the best of it while still preparing for our passage.   

We enjoyed many tasty meals, but this one at Bone Fish stood out as truly delicious.  I had grilled prawns and the boys had Wicked Wahoo.

Overlooking the marina where we are staying…can you spot Sugar Shack on the mooring?

Hiking Mt. Silo

As we wait for a weather window we take Jeff on a few hikes.  The first weas a walk around Malolo island during low tide.  Super easy, flat walk that is about 4.5 miles.  The next hike is shorter but has a lot of elevation (up and down and up and down).  It is the ridge hike or the hike to Mt. Silo.

Many beautiful views on the way to the peak. I just love the variation in colors in the water.

I tried to capture the boys as they were on the trail, but they are so small and hard to find 🙂

And more gorgeous views.

We made it to the bunker and the top of the highest peak.

We reward ourselves with some great snorkeling along the outer reef and see some marvelous fish, soft and hard corals.


We were starting to see some weather activity and decided to head back to Port Denarau.  Jeff was heading to New Zealand by plane and Matt and I in Sugar Shack.  

Super fun time showing Jeff around Musket Cove and Port Denarau.

In our last blog post we share our adventures on several different islands.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind live events.  This blog occured mid-October.  Did you read our last blog “So Many Islands, So Little Time?”

So Many Islands and So Little Time

We leave our beautiful little spot at Mana Island and head to Qalito Island, to the lovely resort called “Castaway Resort.”  The funny thing is that this resort is not actually located on the island called “Cast Away.”  But it is a super nice place to visit and they serve yachties which is an added bonus.  All of these islands are within 12nm of eachother. 

They are located on the corner of the island and have a beautiful white sandy beach.  They offer all sorts of activities for their guests including, SUP, kayaks, hobbie cats, multiple pools and restaurants, tennis, basketball, volleyball and I am sure a lot more.  We made our way to the restaurant for lunch and some colorful, tasty drinks.

I’m telling you the frothy drink on the left was so tasty, but what a pain in the you know what to drink!  It melted so fast that I had to guzzle it which is never good with an alcoholic drink.

These islands are pretty remote so it can be challenging for guests to get to and from the resorts.  So, what they do is ferry them close to the island and then long boats come out to collect guests and luggage.  It is really a spectacle to watch.

Malolo Island – Musket Cove

Our friend Sharron from Town Basin Marina (Whangarei, NZ) comes to visit us for a few days.  She was participating in the Tonga Blue Water Festival and stopped over in Fiji for a short stay on Sugar Shack.

Unfortunately we did not have the best weather.  It was a little cloudy and rainy a few days and super duper windy the entire time.  But we made the best of it and went snorkeling and hiking.

Our first walk was just around the Musket Cove Resort and the Plantation Resort.  But we saw loads of beautiful flowers. 

Sharron makes best attempts to emulate the local tree climbers.

On our second hike we walked the ridge line to an old bunker. We took the dinghy over to Funky Fish Resort which is on the end of the island.  Can you read their name on the hillside?

Super cute surf / backpacker resort. They have a swimming pool, heli-pad, restaurant, and bar.

And then the hike uphill begins.  They installed new signs which led the way to the mountain top.

After about an hour we arrived to the bunker.

The good news was that it was overcast so it was not terribly hot, but we still managed to work up a sweat.  Gorgeous views from a top.

Seventh Heaven

Not technically an “island” but it is a floating barge.  We visited Seventh Heaven 6/7 times last season because we had so much fun and the food was spectacular.  Last season they charged a $50F ($22 USD) per person to board, but that money went towards your food, bar, or shopping tab.  So, we had no problem paying that since we always spent way more than that!  This is for those who do not come by their ferry.  We came withour personal boat.

However, this season the were charging $50F landing fee per person and it was NOT applied to your tab.  We were oturaged and completely bummed out.  There was no way we would pay that on top of our bar/food tab.  I contacted them via email and facebook and was able to get the landing fee waived for 5 people so we went with an additional 2 guests for a total of 7.

When we arrived, at 12 the staff could not let us board because their ferry had not arrived yet.  For goodness sake!  Seriously?  So, we waited 15-minutes for the ferry to come.  After that initial snafu we had a great time.  

We enjoyed lots and lots of tasty and colorful drinks, amazing food, and super fun staff.

The barge is beautiful, especially around sunset.

Unfortunately this will be our last time at Seventh Heaven as they are pricing themselves out.  Cruisers or private boats just won’t pay a $50F landing fee.  Their competitor Cloud 9 does not charge this fee so we will have to go there.

You may ask what’s the difference?  Well Cloud 9 is a party barge for younger people.  It is loud dance music, no servers or wait staff, and nowhere to sit.  They serve food, but it is not nearly as good as Seventh Heaven but there is nowhere to eat it.  It is just a very different atmosphere.  Not bad, just different.

It was a great day and we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset once we got back to the boat.

Matt is progressing really well on the foil board!

I am on a mission to try every fruity cocktail in Fiji!


Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occured in late September and early October.  Did you read about our last blog Mana Island: A Refuge?

Mana Island: a Refuge

After a crazy, fun filled week of activities, games, racing, and partying during the Musket Cove Regatta we seek out a refuge.  There is a weather system coming so we decide to head to Mana Island in the Mamanuca’s. But, first we stop at the outer reef in search of some crystal clear turqoise waters.

This was such a pretty spot, no other boats and gorgeous waters.  However, the winds started shifting making it pretty uncomfortable and rolly, so after one night we were off to Mana Island

We had really, really light winds for this very short downwind run.  We decided to put up the parasail because we were in no big hurry.  It was lovely, the sun was out, the breeze was cool, and the sail was gentle until we lost all of the wind.

It sure was nice while it lasted.  We arrived mid-day and took the afternoon off relaxing.  The next morning we had a beautiful sunrise.

Mana Island

We stopped at this lovely little island a few times last season (read 2022 blog on Mana Island).   We found a little spot in between a few reefs to anchor.  We let out enough scope to avoid the reef and were not expecting any neighbors.  To our surprise one small monohull anchored near us, but then left the next day because the winds pushed them too close to us.  Then another catamaran anchored between us and the reef and we had to tell them, politely, to move.

We had strong winds at 33kts out of the North, but Sugar Shack weathered the storm.

Hike Around Mana Island. 

There is a really lovely beach right in front of us, just beyond the reef.  It almost disappears at high tide, but during mid and low tide you can enjoy long walks.  Our beautiful walk starts on the beach and then wraps around over some coral/rocks to another beach.

This beautiful bird was catching some lunch and pretending not to see us.

Then it is straight up the hill where we pass the heli pad for Tadrai Island resort and the resort itself.

There are some really gorgeous views.  Can you find Sugar Shack in the top photo?

A view from another hill/mountain.  One looking East over Sugar Shak and one looking West over the village and the famous Mana Island Resort.

We then walk the ridge line down to the village and back to the beach.  I love the colorful houses in the village.  It is still low tide (see lower left photo).  We stop at a backpackers resort to have a drink and witnessed Superman carrying 4 dive tanks!  What a site.  It is a lovely hike. 

Cicumnavigating Mana Island

The next day we actually walk aroudn the entire island, 4.6miles.  We did not realize we could walk in front of the Tadrai Island Resort so we were always cutting up the hill.  But this time, we walked the entire island.

We find a magnificent blow hole and a a little private pool that Matt decides to enjoy.

Not sure if you remember, but the TV series “Survivor” is shot on Mana Island (we mention it in our 2022 post).  When we do the complete around the island hike we find several Survivor sets (big open fields for challengs), the control room (where the director works), and the elimination stage.

Below is one of their cleared fields where they hold challenges.  We are not sure if these rafts are part of Survivor or just local island rafts.  But they were super cool and constructed of natural products: bamboo and vines.

A special preview just for you our trusty readers….the Honeymoon Survivor Australia was preparing to start filming as we were here.  We got a few snapshots of the sets before they even make it on film!

The top left is a special honeymoon suite, bottom left is their shower with lots of fresh water, bottom right is their very special toilet and top right is a pre-made raft.

So many walks and so many views…

And a good, hard walk wouldn’t be worth it without a reward…we have tasty drinks at the Mana Resort.

Super good hike requiring us to walk on beaches and over rocks, with a total trip of 4.7 miles.

Sandbank Day

There is a spit of land aptly called “The Sandbank” where day charter boats go for an afternoon picnic.  We have passed by it a number of times and this day we decide to take the dinghy over.  We packed some snacks and cold drinks and hit the road.

This sandbank disappears at high tide so you can only visit mid-to-low tide.  

Nothing but turquoise waters, a little sand, and some broken coral.  But truly beautiful to sit in the shallow water with a cold drink enjoying the peace.

I could get used to this little spot!  We snorkeled the reef and found some beautiful schools of fish and lots of hard coral.  Not much soft coral but that is to be expected.

We end up spending 2 weeks at Mana.  We walked around the island several times, enjoyed cocktails at both resorts and hung out with some friends.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind live events.  This blog occured in mid-September.  Don’t miss out on the Musket Cove Regatta Festivities posted in our last blog.