The first seat of colonial power in Fiji is a must see for those travelling to this beautiful tropical country. Whether you’re visiting on a cruise ship or coming by aeroplane, Levuka is well worth the trip. The old town feel has been preserved through the architecture, and it’s kept to its roots in order for the more historical elements to shine. While steeped in history, visiting Levuka doesn’t just have to be a lesson in the past, as the town has a lot more to offer.
Almost 200 years ago, Levuka became the first permanent European settlement, making it an easy choice when deciding where the capital of Fiji should be in October 1874. While for most of the 19th century, Levuka was home to Pacific-deserters, shipwrecked whalers, escaped convicts and rogues, the town has played a major role in Fijian political and social changes.
Founded near the start of the 19th century as a trading post and respite for traders and explorers sailing the South Pacific, Levuka managed to escape most of the violence that plagued Fiji during the brutal tribal wars. As an island that wasn’t openly hostile and willing to trade, Levuka was the perfect choice for a capital. As such, Fiji’s first bank, post office, school, hospital and municipal government were opened in Levuka.
In its modern form, Levuka is a tourist destination, historical and cultural site and a major economic outlet all rolled into one. It is also incredibly picturesque. As part of the volcanic island of Ovalau, the landscape around Levuka is high and mountainous.
While its geographical makeup cut short Levuka’s life as Fiji’s capital, the landscape, cradled by jungle-shrouded cliffs, is a sight to behold. Occupying almost all of the rare, flat section of land, around every corner there is something to do, or a site to explore in Levuka.
Top things to do
There are many buildings and sites in Levuka of historical interest. However, if something a little more relaxing takes your fancy, taking a stroll through town is the perfect option. The town’s old architecture is reflected in the British Colonial style infrastructure, and walking down the main street is like going through a time warp. There really is something for everyone in Levuka.
Levuka community centre and museum
Financed by donations of time, money, labour and materials from businesses and the Fijian people, the community centre holds special meaning to the people of Levuka. Inside the structure is a branch of the Fiji museum, a public library, crafts centre and meeting hall, among other things. The time and effort that has gone into the creation of the community centre and museum represents the resident’s desire to have their town remain a living tribute to the past.
The village of Nasova is the location where Fiji’s deed of cession was signed on the 10th of October 1874. The occasion is commemorated in Nasova with three cession stones and a flagpole. Visitors to the village can see the stones celebrating the centenary of the deed of cession in 1974 and also Fiji’s independence on October 10th 1970.
Sacred Heart Church
Even the churches in Levuka are worth looking at! While the building’s architecture is a sight in itself, Sacred Heart Church also features a French clock that strikes twice each hour with a minute pause in between. However, instead of a chime or clang, the clock strikes and lets out… a thud.
While Levuka’s architecture tends to take centre stage, there is something to be said for its natural landmarks. Totoga Creek is the source of freshwater for the town and can also be used as a recreational swimming area. Complete with several swimming holes, one of which is lined with concrete, Totoga Creek is a good spot for a quick dip when Fiji’s mild tropical climate and naturally high humidity gets to you.
Levuka Royal Hotel is the oldest operating hotel in the South Pacific. Similar to a roadhouse one would see in the United States, the 125 year old hotel is the last remaining one of more than 50 bars and saloons that were built in Levuka’s heyday.
Historic town walking tour
Those looking to take part in the walking tour can visit the community centre for this unique opportunity. Once the walk is organised, individuals will set off with a local guide and visit sites like the cession stone, the anniversary bure erected for Prince Charles in 1970 and Fiji’s first schools, churches and hotels.
The tour takes between one and a half and two hours, but it is completely tailored to the individual embarking on it.
Explore Levuka with Captain Cook Cruises in Fiji
A 7 Night Colonial Discovery Cruise with Captain Cook Cruises will have you experiencing the beauty and history of Levuka and many other Fijian islands.
Book a Fijian cruise with Captain Cook Cruises to get the most out of the popular holiday destination without actually having to plan the holiday yourself! We set sail on the 1st of October 2019, the 25th of April, 20th of June, 22nd of August & 19 December in 2020.