Vatu I Ra is a small island located between Fiji's two largest islands, in an area known as Bligh Waters or Vatu-I-Ra Passage.
The name Vatu I Ra in the Fijian language means 'Rock that is down', or 'Rock near the province of Ra'. It is a deserted island approximately 2 hectares (5 acres) in size. The nearest island is Viti Levu, approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) away.
Several friends and I visited this island for snorkeling and bird watching, and camped overnight on the island. This web page describes our experience.
Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame navigated through this passage in a small boat after the mutiny. He was chased by cannibals through this passage but managed to escape.
Today the island is also sometimes called Bird Island because it is home to many nesting sea birds.
It is a primitive deserted island, so visitors must bring all their comforts with them.
A beautiful coral reef fringes the island. It provides great snorkeling.
Underwater, we saw turtles, sharks, large fish, and mostly beautiful corals.
The offshore reefs near this island are popular diving destinations.
The trees on the island are home to thousands of nesting birds.
The birds have no significant predators on the island. The trees contain an abundance of bird's nests.
We counted seven species, but we are not avid bird watchers so I'm sure there are more.
Several species of birds would glide above the island all day long, beginning before dawn and ending after dusk.
Other birds could be seen fishing in the ocean near the island.
This island is designated 'FJ05' by Birdlife International as an important bird area of of Fiji. They claim that the island is nesting ground to 28,000 pairs of Black Noddies.
The species of birds that live on the island are described in a 2006 site report from Birdlife International.
My friends and I took a small boat to the island and camped overnight in our tents.
We chose to camp on the upwind side of of the island to avoid the smell from the birds.
Both sides of the island had a nice beach.
The forest floor under the bird trees contained no undergrowth. It was covered by plenty of bird poop, egg shells, an occasional dead bird and a lot of hermit crabs.
The crab in the photo at right won our hermit crab race.
The island can be accessed with help from people from Veidrala village. Veidrala is located on the northeast shore of Viti Levu island and is the nearest village to Vatu I Ra island.
Villagers at Veidrala can secure permission for snorkelers and bird watchers to visit the island. They can also provide boat transportation and guide services.
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John Caldeira firstname.lastname@example.org
PO Box 224, Rakiraki, Ra, Fiji Islands
10 October 2010