History & Culture

It’s as if you’ve traveled back in time through the centuries to an island that remains as it always was…

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Island History

In 1789 Captain William Bligh sailed right by Wakaya Island after the mutiny on his famed ship the Bounty. Over 200 years later, Canadian entrepreneur David Gilmour and his New Zealand-born wife, Jill, dreamed of creating the ultimate unspoiled tropical haven on this tiny sliver of paradise.

In 1990, Wakaya’s rich history and the Gilmours’ unique vision came together: The Wakaya Club & Spa was born. Since its inception the Gilmours, together with a village of 140 Fijians, have preserved the serene spirit and breathtaking beauty of this spectacular island.

Wakaya remains the jewel in the crown of the Fiji Islands today. And The Wakaya Club & Spa is one of the world’s finest tropical resorts, a private retreat that accomplishes an extraordinary combination — providing gracious living, sophisticated cuisine and unparalleled leisure opportunities in one of the most remote and pristine corners of the world.

Geography

Wakaya is one of 333 islands that comprise the Fiji group. Approximately five miles by one and a half miles (2,200 acres) in size, it is part of the Lomaiviti group situated in the Koro Sea due east of Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji).

Wakaya is approximately 40 minutes by air from Nadi International Airport and 12 minutes from Nausori Airport. Wakaya Island is surrounded by a protected coral reef and is known for its azure lagoons and pristine white sand beaches.

Nature

Wakaya island is endowed with a gentle climate, pure water, and a diverse topography of cliffs, forests, beaches and lagoons.

This exquisite and pristine ecosystem includes:

  • Cycads, ferns and banyans as old as history
  • Pilot whales cruising through the west passage
  • Scarlet kula birds nibbling at the coconut flowers
  • Fish traps older than memory, their stony arms reaching into the sea
  • Pineapples, bananas, papayas, ripened in the sun before being picked
  • The heady scent of frangipani and ginger mingled with ocean air
  • Flamboyant trees with blossoms like red flames at Christmas time
  • A blue lagoon embraced by a barrier reef, blooming with marine life
  • Hawksbill and Pacific Green turtles, returning annually to lay their eggs on Homestead beach

This is Wakaya, a microcosm of the South Pacific in its most idyllic form.

People

Guests always cite the warmth and spirit of our staff as the heart and soul of their time on Wakaya. A highly skilled and cordial crew awaits you, acclaimed for their friendly yet unobtrusive service. With a staff to guest ratio of 12 to 1 for each guest couple, rest assured that every need will be graciously satisfied, almost before you think of it.

Our people are the treasure of the island—your personal connection to Fijian culture. Long after your tan has faded, you will remember the friends

you made here, and the power of the Wakayan smile.

Culture

A trip to Wakaya is an adventure steeped in the pleasures of cross-cultural experience.

Wakaya’s owners work closely with village leaders to create opportunities for guests to observe and take part in authentic Fijian ceremonies and traditions. Without exception, guests come away from these experiences with a profound respect for Fijian values and the Wakayans’ family-centered lifestyle. The Fijian government awarded David Gilmour the Order of Fiji in 1999 as a result of Mr. Gilmour’s commitment to the preservation of Fijian culture as well as his contribution to the Fijian economy (by founding FIJI Water).

While on Wakaya, Discover:

A Meke: Learn Fiji legends through traditional songs and dance led by “Josaia,” the former leader of Fiji’s National Dance Troupe.

A Kava Ceremony, drink of the Fiji Islands: Guests of the island are invited to participate in the sharing of this traditional drink of Fiji

Island sounds: Lali drums herald meals and festivities, and Wakaya’s Village Choir will awaken your soul at Sunday morning services.

The island also offers fascinating archaeological sites. Wakaya has been inhabited since at least 700 BC and digs have been conducted by a Fulbright scholar from UCLA. Some of the artifacts are on view in Rumu Lagilagi, the recreation room next to Reception, which houses David Gilmour’s personal collection of 19th century lithographs, maps and engravings.

Korolevu, which means “large village” in Fijian, is the summit of the island and the site of early Fijian fortification. With its ancient banyan trees, it is a magical place of great spiritual energy. A visit will give you an appreciation for the breadth, scope and diversity of this island paradise. Chieftain’s Leap is another beautiful site, where Peregrine falcons nest in the cliff. It has quite a story behind it which a member of our staff will happily explain on a guided nature tour.

Other Facts

  • Wakaya Island is more than 2 ½ times the size of New York City’s Central Park
  • Fiji operates on Greenwich Mean Time plus twelve hours
  • Average daily Fahrenheit temperatures range from the low 70s to the high 80s