A visit to the World Heritage Listed (2013) Levuka is a must for those interested in South Pacific History. Take a 40 minute fast boat ride from Leleuvia Island to Levuka located on Ovalau Island. Walk the busy main street and visit the many local shops for clothing and supplies. Visit the listed historic buildings and the famous Royal Hotel, the oldest in the South Pacific and browse it’s interesting rooms festooned with historic memorabilia.
Founded around 1820 by European settlers and traders as the first modern town in the Fiji Islands, becoming an important port and trading post. A disparate band of settlers made up Levuka’s population including traders, missionaries, shipwrights, speculators and vagabonds as well as respectable businessmen.
Marist priests, led by Father Breheret, established a mission in Levuka in 1858. By 1870, the town had a population of more than 800. When the first modern nation state of Fiji was founded in 1871, Seru Epenisa Cakobau was crowned King at Lekuka. After Fiji was annexed as a British Colony in 1874, Levuka remained the capital until 1877, when the administration was moved to Suva, although the move was not made official until 1882.
Fiji’s first bank, post office, school, private members club, hospital, town hall and municipal government. Fiji’s first newspaper, the Fiji Times, still in operation today, was founded in Levuka in 1869. Levuka’s Royal Hotel is the oldest hotel in the South Pacific still operating. Historians have not ascertained its exact age, but records show that it was in existence by the early 1860s. Levuka Public (Private) School, opened in 1879, was the first public school in Fiji and many of Fiji’s leaders in the years leading up to and following independence in 1970 were educated there. The oldest Masonic Lodge in the South Pacific is also to be found in Levuka, established in 1875. It boasts Fiji’s first public electricity system, which began in 1927, three days before the capital Suva was electrified.