Nestled in rugged, grassy mountains, Navala is by far Fiji’s most picturesque village. Navala’s chief enforces strict town-planning rules: the dozens of traditional thatched bure are laid out neatly in avenues, with a central promenade sloping down the banks of the Ba River. All of the houses here are built with local materials; the only concrete block and corrugated iron in sight is for the school, Catholic church and radio shed (which houses the village’s emergency radio telephone). The rectangular-plan houses have a timber-pole structure, sloping stone plinths, woven split-bamboo walls and thatched roofs. Kitchens are in separate bure, and toilets in bure lailai (little houses).
Navala is a photographer’s delight, but you need to get permission and pay the $15 entrance fee before wandering around. If arriving independently, ask the first person you meet to take you to the turaga-ni-koro (the chief-appointed headman who collects the entrance fee). As the village charges a fee to enter, a traditional sevusevu is not required although all other village etiquette rules apply. If you arrive with Tui from Bulou’s Eco Lodge, he will take care of protocol.