A Night Tour of Robinson Crusoe Island Fiji
Watching cultural shows and experiencing traditional activities are big part of our trips especially to exotic and interesting hot spots like the islands of Fiji. During our few days in Fiji last summer we wanted to experience a nighttime show with its well-known fire and knife dancers. Luckily, there was one that whisked us off to one of Fiji’s outer islands, Robinson Crusoe Island, which promised a unique cultural experience. Come along with us on this island night tour among the fire walkers and dancers.
We started off our trip by being picked up at our hotel and on to a long bus ride to the Robinson Crusoe Island jetty. But, it gave us a chance to see some of the residential side of the island. We boarded an aluminum boat with an attached motor and canopy, which was similar to how Fijians get around the water. They had life jackets on board so that made me feel a little better boarding this boat.
The lagoon and river looked almost postcard perfect and was so serene.
I was looking forward to seeing the sunset along the ocean as we sailed towards the island but we were still in the lagoon area when it started to set.
We were treated with the emergence of the full moon which came up pretty fast and dusk quickly set in.
It seemed like a magical setting with the full moon and being surrounded by mangroves and the river bank lined with many tropical plants and trees. It was a scenic, peaceful 30-minute ride. Coming back here late at night was a different story; it was eerie and very dark with only the sound of the boat’s motor. The only light was the manually operated spotlight on top of the boat to look out for debris.
I kept expecting something to pop out of the bushes and trees. It was a very long 30-minute ride in the dark going home. My kids were too tired to notice since they both took naps. Luckily, the wonderful evening we had on the island earlier made up for that.
Robinson Crusoe Island is a small island located off Fiji’s largest island of Viti Levu. It was once known as Likuri Island and had inhabitants dating back to 1500 BC and was used for traditional ceremonies and gatherings. It was named after the story of an Englishman mariner and his adventures. Nowadays, it’s home to rustic accommodations that include wood and straw type cabins (bures), lodges and two dormitories for budget travellers.
It offers plenty of activities, a waterpark for those staying here and also welcomes day trippers and visitors, like us, who were only here for several hours at night. Judging from their pictures, their daytime offerings look almost similar to the other Fijian paradise of South Sea Island where we spent the day.
As we neared the island, we could hear the Fijian choir’s island music welcoming us. Once we reached the island we were greeted with the staff and some guests holding torches to light our way. We’ve certainly never been greeted like this before and just one of the ways the Fijian hospitality came alive.
We were ushered into a traditional kava ceremony by the beach. Kava or Yaqona (pronounced yangona) is Fiji’s national drink and the locals love it. The drink is made from the powdered root of a pepper family plant and mixed with water in the tanoa or bowl. It came out a little muddy looking and is believed to have medicinal qualities and relax you.
We had the privilege of attending two kava ceremonies in their downtown and in a village we visited and drank it too. Yes, even the kids. It’s an acquired taste and has a bitter and “earthy” taste. My kids aren’t as politically correct and said it tasted like “dirt”. There’s a ritual involved including sitting in a circle and some clapping. Guests were invited to go up and take part but we passed this time around.
We were then led to an open area for the digging of the Lovo – a Fijian feast cooked on an underground hole with wood and stones. We saw the staff unearth some vegetables covered in sacks from the pit. Food like cassava, sweet potato, yam and taro are usually cooked this way while the meats and fish are laid in the bottom. While I’d like to think they were really traditional and cooked our dinner this way, the hole wasn’t big enough to hold all the food we later saw in the buffet. But, it gave us a good idea of what a lovo entailed.
The pile of stones and wood on the ground was clearly still hot but we also didn’t expect them to also use the pit for the traditional fire walking. It was fascinating to see three men walk across the blistering pit and made it look easy and painless. They stayed there for a few seconds too smiling as we all looked on in amazement.
We were treated to an island buffet feast of roast pork and beef and vegetables that were supposedly cooked in the lovo. It was delicious but it didn’t feel Fijian enough especially since we had lunch at a village earlier that day. I was expecting more local and traditional dishes other than cassava and sweet potato and also a bit more fruits and seafood. I’m guessing they had to have more Western foods to appeal to the tourists.
The highlight of the evening and the main reason we came to this island was the South Pacific Island and Polynesian cultural dance, fire and knife dance show. This one-hour show was very energetic and entertaining. We saw some of the traditional Fijian dances as well as some of the other South Pacific island dances like Samoa and Tonga.
The fire and knife dancers were amazing to see and even did some acrobatic moves while doing some fancy tricks with those torches. The cast was very talented and really captured our attention throughout the show. There were some audience participation too which made for some good laughs.
I’ve attended enough cultural shows to see the same almost artificial smile on many of the female performers. It was refreshing to see performers with genuine smiles and who were really having fun sharing their culture and entertaining the audience.
Robinson Crusoe Island was a tropical retreat that gives visitors a taste of Fiji whether staying there, visiting for a day or for a night show. While there’s some room for improvement on the food, the main event and primary reason to come to this island is the show. The ambience and talent was worth the bus and boat ride alone and is a great overall value. It was a wonderful experience and lovely evening of cultural festivities with the locals.
Visiting Robinson Crusoe Island Tips and Basics
- Check their website for various price options for day tours or the dinner show. Kids (6-14 years old are half price and those under 5 are free). Prices for the night tour start at 169 Fijian dollar ($86 US) for adults; Combo prices started at
- Coach bus pick-up from various Nadi, Denarau and Coral Coast hotels begin at 4 PM and guests are driven to the Robinson Crusoe Island jetty, which leave at 5:30 PM.
- The boat returns to Robinson Crusoe Jetty at about 10PM and the coach buses drop visitors back to hotels.
- Night Shows are on Wednesday and Saturday only. Day tours are on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
- All cruises incur a FJ$10 ($5US) Fuel Surcharge per adult, pay at the Robinson Crusoe Island Jetty. Double check if you book online since this may be included with your ticket.
- Drinks available for purchase on the boat and on the island. It’s not included in the dinner price.
Have you been to Robinson Crusoe Island? Would you visit for the show?