17°41’08.61 South | 178°50’16.93 East
Levuka is a historical Port of Entry located on the eastern coast of the island of Ovalau. Formerly the Capital of Fiji, Levuka was listed as the country’s first World Heritage Site in June 2013!Recognised for “its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango trees along the beach front” – as a “rare” and “outstanding example of late 19th century Pacific port settlements”, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee said the combination of “development by the indigenous community” and “integration of local building traditions by a supreme naval power” [Britain] – had led to “the emergence of a unique landscape”.
The World Heritage status means that Levuka, in its present state, will remain as a snapshot, frozen in time, of a crucial part of our nations development and a permanent reminder of our unique history.
A Town of ‘Firsts’
Levuka was founded circa 1820 by European settlers, shipwrecked sailors and traders as the first modern town in the Fiji Islands. The sheltered harbour provided the safe anchorage that peaked European interest in Levuka, which soon became an important port and trading post.
Levuka is famous for many of Fiji’s other “firsts.” It was the site of Fiji’s first bank, post office, school, private members club, hospital, town hall, and municipal government. It was the site of Fiji’s first public electricity system and Fiji’s first national newspaper, the Fiji Times, was founded in Levuka in 1869. Interestingly, the Royal Hotel (which is still in operation today) is the oldest hotel in the South Pacific!
By 1870, the town had a population of more than 800, but by 1882 the move of our nations capital to Suva had been prompted by concerns that the 600-meter high cliffs surrounding the town gave it no room for expansion. So the town remains today, as it was then; developed only with respect to its former state – the saloons that lined the street are gone, but the quaint columned storefronts and weatherworn clapboard buildings have managed to survive the 130-something years since, and Levuka has retained its magic.
But why take our word for it? Make your way over to Levuka and see for yourself! Take a sail back into Fiji’s past and experience the unique atmosphere of heritage and culture…
Entering at Levuka
When choosing to clear into Fiji at Levuka, be sure to make contact by radio on Channel 16 once you reach the main wharf. Bunkering, watering facilities and ships’ supplies are available. The port area includes the wharf and large sheds once used to store copra. The tracks for trams that transported the copra to and from the wharf are still visible.
All necessary border control offices are located alongside the main wharf; including the oldest Customs building in Fiji!