Rookwa (literally means "do not sell it to them"). It is a fairly large village with about 300 inhabitants and 60 houses. The villagers moved from Nakarovu Village, the home of fire walking about 200 years ago - moving to escape cannibals on the island. The village lies on the coast of Beqa Island facing (see map). It lies between the village of Naiseuseu and Beqa Lagoon Resort. Rookwa is a prosperous village in Fijian terms. Visitors to Rookwa can expect to sleep on a proper bed. Your hosts are a prominent family, Aisake (see image right) and his wife live in a house on the banks of a hill rising above the beach below. Aisake also owns a boat and collects his guests from Navua Town.
Rookwa's largest building is the Methodist church and the community hall. The churches are very active among this devout community. The community's primary school, which you are welcome to visit, is situated nearby at the village of Ravu Ravu about three kilometres away.
Rookwa is also the traditional village in which the direct descendants of Fiji's famed fire walkers live. There is a fabulous fable behind the ability of the Sawau tribe to walk on fire
Image right: Members of the Sawau tribe on Beqa Island walk across the hot stones.
Most of the houses in Rookwa have flush toilets, showers and beds. Water is tapped directly from Beqa Island and is purer than the water you find bottled in stores.
There is a reliable source of electricity in Rookwa with is supplied by generator - but it only runs from 6pm to 9pm. Aisake has his own generator which he continually uses to keep the fridge in his store cold.
Fijian villagers are very healthy and believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness.
The bedroom in Aisake's house
Aisake in his shop / house
|Flush toilet at Kiveli's sister's house|
It is important to note that Fijian villagers are offended by bikinis or scant clothing worn in the village area - be safe and wear clothing that covers the knees and shoulders. Do NOT wear hats in the village.
Image right: beach near the village
However, if you go to the beautiful secluded beaches nearby treat it like any other - and get a great suntan in a bikini!
There are no telephones in Rookwa but the neighbouring resort of Beqa Lagoon has phones and mobiles do work from the beach in front of Rookwa.
You will enjoy the most incredible and memorable holiday adventures whether walking along the secluded beaches, or exploring inland. At Rookwa you will, from the moment you step into the village, be accepted into the community. You will, in true Fiji-time, be able to participate in traditional ceremonies, like Kava drinking in the "vale ni so qo" (or large community hall), dancing and singing as well as swimming in the sea, snorkeling on the Coral reef, exploring the beaches or relaxing.
Image right: The village Chief Ratu Kalaveti Suguta with Aisake Vatiliai and his wife
Alternatively you can visit the nearby Beqa Lagoon Resort for dinner or to go diving - just a short walk away but with daily rates equating to food and accommodation at Rookwa for up to a week!
It is important to note that the "man is boss" in the traditional Fijian community so you will find the village women doing all the household work, cooking, etc. Tourists to the village are welcome to participate in the kitchen, washing etc... but this is entirely optional although you will enjoy chatting to the women about their experiences at Rookwa.
Image right: Aisake's kitchen is some yards from the main house
All food, washing etc.. is done for you by the women in the village - and these costs are included in the cost of accommodation. You might also enjoy joining the men either to watch or participate in their traditional farming practices along the lands bordering the road where they cultivate taro (a potato-like vegetable), Kava and a form of giant asparagus known as Dromo-Dromo. Once again you are not expected to do anything but relax and do what you wish, but for those who want to take a step back in time this is an unforgettable experience well worth considering.
In the images below you can see how the women make the lovely and effective mats that you find in most Fijian houses. These pictures were taken in and aroun Rookwa village. (You are welcome to join the Fijian women and learn how to make their traditional mats).
The plant from which mat making
The leaves cut and ready for
Leaves drying before they are
If you have children this will be a holiday and experience of a lifetime as they are immediately welcomed into the fold by Fijian kids of all ages - over 100 of them! The "village green" which separates two rows of houses at Rookwa is perfect for a game of cricket, soccer, rugby or other ball games that the Fijian kids just love playing. (Bring a small rugby ball with you and your kids will be kept occupied for your entire stay! Simple things like balloons and sweets are a firm favourite.)
Image right: The village kids play rugby in the early morning as a full moon sets
Children might also like to spend some time joining the Fijian children in their classrooms to see how Fijian teachers go about their work - again this is totally optional - one thing for sure there is no shortage of activities for the family!
While the local Rookwa Fijian dialect may be spoken by villagers they all speak English. (Fijian translation of common greetings can be seen at this link).
Rookwa is the ultimate backpacker adventure. You are in a safe environment, welcomed into a friendly community from the moment you arrive but have a natural playground - from beach to walks inland. The village is just 5 minutes walk from the Beqa Lagoon Resort.
When you arrive at Rookwa there is a very simple traditional ceremony that you can participate in. When the villagers gather in their community hall they welcome guests at a Kava ceremony. An elder from the village will welcome you and the man or male spokesman for your group, at this time, is expected to make a short speech and provide a small gift to the village (such as 1kg of powdered Kava - which cost about F$20 or US$10). Once these formalities are over your host Aiske will keep you informed of future Kava celebrations, entertainment or other activities taking place during your stay. (A big wooden drum is often beaten to alert villagers of celebrations, church services and other community activities).
More on kava at this link
Image right: The men of the village play touch rugby as the sun sets over one of the world's finest playgrounds
Rugby Union is the village sport. It is played by the men in the village every evening 365 days a year and by the children every morning as the sun rises.
The Beqa Bus:
The quirky nature of the village is epitomised by the famous Beqa Bus (actually a wheel barrow).
When you arrive at the jetty at Rookwa you will see the "Bus Stop" sign hammered into a coconut tree. The wheel barrows are used to cart everything and anything from point to point in Rookwa via som very good cement paths that lead past every home in the village.
Two Beqa buses
The main intersection in the village
The Rookwa bus stop
Payments will be organised directly with Aisake on your arrival at Rookwa. Please do not tender credit cards to the village as they do not have those sort of banking facilities - cash is king. There are plenty of ATM machines on Viti Levu on the way to Rookwa - they can be found at Nadi, Sigatoka, Pacific Harbour and Suva. (Simon, who can collect you, in his taxi will help you here).
Image right: Rookwa village in the foreground is just a few minutes walk from Beqa Lagoon Resort and deep sea diving
If you are thinking of bringing gifts consider bringing practical things like books, notepads, pencils, rubbers and sharpeners that can be used in the school. If you have children consider bringing a gift of a rugby ball, tennis balls, cricket gear, balloons etc for the village... a great ice breaker and your kids will have a great time. This option is entirely up to you and is not expected.
There is also a village fund which has been set up at the request of past guests. The village fund is contributed to by guests, but it is important to know that donations are voluntary and you are NOT expected to donate to the funds. The funds are administered by the village mataqali (or elders) without any outside influence.
The two village funds are:
a building fund which is used in identified projects that help the entire community; and
micro-financing - a fund which is used to finance small enterprises that individuals or groups of villagers in each village want to set up. The money is loaned interest free and with no strings attached. The recipient is morally bound to return the money once he has started earning an income from his enterprise so that the money can be used again to help someone else in the village.
There will be a poster in your guest room in the village which tells you more about the village funds, alternatively you can discuss them with your host.