If not shrouded by clouds, the roughly contoured profile of BEQA (pronounced “Mbenga”) can be seen clearly from Suva. It’s closer still to Pacific Harbour, from where small boats bump across 12km of open sea to reach it. The island is roughly circular in shape, with steep forest-clad mountains rising sharply from a meandering coastline. Its large lagoon, protected by a 30km-long barrier reef, is renowned for shark dives and deep-sea game fishing, as well as the famous surfing break of Frigates Passage opposite the small island of Yanuca; most diving and game fishing trips leave from Pacific Harbour and are covered in Chapter Three.

Beqa’s most distinctive feature is its fire walkers. You can often see them perform on Viti Levu, especially at the Arts Village in Pacific Harbour, but nothing beats witnessing the real thing on home soil – Rukua, Naceva and Dakuibeqa on the southeastern side are the main fire-walking villages.

The island’s 1400 inhabitants live in nine coastal villages. There are no roads on the island but several walking tracks between villages make for pleasant exploring. The easiest route runs from Waisomo on the northern tip of the island to Rukua along the west coast. You can also hike to one of the island’s three mountains – Korolevu (439m), towering over Lalati Village on the north coast, is the most challenging and highest. The best way to sample the coastline is from a kayak and Lalati Resort runs a delightful kayaking trip to tranquil Malumu Bay, which bites deep into the west coast, almost severing it from the main bulk of Beqa.

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