Rotuma is about as far as you can go from the heart of the Fiji island archipelago without actually leaving it. The tiny volcanic island encompasses just 5 by 14 kilometers (3.1 by 8.7 miles) and is about 600 kilometers (373 miles) north of Viti Levu. It is one of the most isolated Fiji islands, and there’s a local saying that if you can find Rotuma on a map, then it’s a pretty good map.
There are also a few even smaller islets that belong to Rotuma, including Uea Island, Hatana Island, Hofiua Island (Split Island), Solnoho Island, Solkolpe Island, Afgaha Island and Hauatiu Island.
Population in Rotuma
Rotuma has a population of about 2,800; it’s a small, but unique indigenous ethnic group within the Fijian archipelago with their own distinctive language and Polynesian appearance (Rotumans are lighter-skinned than Fijians). Even though Rotuma has been politically part of Fiji since 1881, the local island culture is more similar to the one in Tonga, Samoa, Uvea and Futuna, which are all Polynesian islands located to the east.
Rotuma’s climate is hotter and more humid than other parts of Fiji. The island isn’t really prepared for tourism, so it helps to know someone before you go. However, a permit or invitation to visit Rotuma is not required. For visitors who are looking for an unspoiled, pristine and idyllic tropical island, Rotuma is the place to go. In other words, it is mainly a place for those who want to go where few others have ever gone.
Most visitors to Rotuma are friends or relatives of local residents. Also, getting here isn’t cheap, so you should plan to stay at least a few days to make it worth it. Not that you’ll have much choice anyway, since Air Fiji only flies to Rotuma once a week. And the boat from Suva takes several days to get here.
You’ll only find guest houses on Rotuma; there are no hotels and no restaurants or other tourist facilities or shops. Things to do on Rotuma include hiking, swimming, snorkeling and other outdoor activities. Your hosts may also be able to get a small boat for you for diving excursions. The main reason why foreign visitors come to Rotuma is to experience life on a truly remote island seldom seen by foreigners.
Rotuman women are known to weave fine white mats. The island’s vegetation is lush, and Fiji’s sweetest oranges are grown here. Also, the kava from Rotuma is noted for its strength. Sights to see include deserted beaches (such as Vaioa Beach, which is one of the finest in the Pacific), the island’s highest peak (Mt. Suelhof at 256 m – 840 ft), a cave with a freshwater pool (at Fapufa) and the archaeological site Sisilo Hill, an ancient burial ground.
Visitors to Rotuma should keep in mind that there’s no bank on the island, so one should bring all the money one expects to spend for the entire stay. Also, transportation to and from Rotuma can be unpredictable, so visitors should have a flexible schedule.
Area: 44 km2 (17 mi2)
Length: 14 km (8.7 miles)
Width: 5 km (3.1 miles)
Population: (about 2,800)
Population density: 63.6/km² (164.7/mi²)
Highest point: Mt. Suelhof - 256 m (840 ft)