Rakiraki Town itself is cradled in farmlands surrounded by mountains and while its central business district can quickly be covered on foot, there is an expanse of scenic real estate that has lured foreign real estate investors to this part of Ra , one of Fiji’s largest provinces.
Rakiraki is located on the Northern coast of Viti Levu, the largest of Fiji’s 333 islands. Along the Kings Rd that wraps part of Viti Levu, Rakiraki is located halfway between Fiji’s international gateway town of Nadi and Suva, Fiji’s capital city.
Rakiraki is named after the district of Rakiraki, one of the 19 that comprise Ra Province.
Although long settled by immigrants dating back to Fiji’s indentured labour era, Rakiraki was only recently incepted as a township in 2010.
The Rakiraki region includes considerable tracts that come under Fiji’s tax-free region, and offers many agricultural, commercial, industrial and tourism opportunities.
Rakiraki is nestled along Viti Levu’s Northern coast. Towards Tavua and Ba to Fiji’s Western division, Rakiraki’s municipal boundary ends at the Naqoro Flats while towards Korovou to Fiji’s Central division, Rakiraki’s municipal boundary ends at the Naria rubbish disposal site. Rakiraki’s central business district is known as Vaileka.
Rakiraki comes under Fiji’s Western Division.
In indigenous culture, Rakiraki and the wider Ra Province hold spiritual importance as an early landing point for ancestral gods (known vu), who dispersed from this region into other areas of Fiji.
As a wider residential settlement, Rakiraki drew residents with the opening of the privately-owned Penang Mill in 1878. This remains Fiji’s oldest mill and is now owned by the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), formerly known as the Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) Company, which played a dominant role in Fiji’s sugar industry and continues to do so via the FSC.
The Rakiraki Town Council was incepted in 2010, when Rakiraki was officially declared a town.
Economy & Main Industries
The bottled water industry is a major employer in the Rakiraki region, home to the renowned Fiji Water. The mineral is Fiji’s most well known export, with its plant outside Rakiraki’s central business district, at Yaqara. Owned by Natural Waters Viti Limited, the Fiji Water plant is spread over Native land leased from local indigenous landowners, including those from Naseyani and Rabulu villages.
The Yaqara Pastoral Company Limited operates an expansive cattle, sheep and goat farm spread along the Kings Rd as a key supplier of Fiji’s meat industry and is a commercial entity of the Fijian Government.
Volivoli is the centre of Rakiraki’s tourism industry and home to the award-winning Wananavu Beach Resort and Volivoli Beach Resort, as well as Dream View Villas. There are also a host of private resort villas here that are put on the rental market for visiting tourists. Additionally, the Nananu--i-Ra and Nananu-i-Cake islands feature several resort and boutique properties renowned for diving, snorkeling and water activities in one of Fiji’s most corners. There is also Golden Point Resort, nestled on the oceanfront before Rakiraki Town with great views and proximity to surrounding islands. The Tanoa Rakiraki Hotel is located between Rakiraki’s CBD and Volivoli, and is one of the oldest tourism operations in the Rakiraki area.
These tropical destinations have added to the lure of Rakiraki for visitors seeking extreme privacy away from Fiji’s usual tourism hotspots.
Sugarcane farming is a traditional staple sector in Rakiraki and many in the region continue to grow and harvest cane for the Fiji Sugar Corporation. However, the closure of the Penang Mill in Rakiraki in 2017 means that farmers now transport their harvest to either the Rarawai Mill in Ba or the Lautoka Mill in Lautoka City.
The picturesque scenery of Rakiraki has also been used by the film industry, and more recently in the movie, Adrift, shot on location in 2017 and released in 2018. The Fijian Government provides attractive tax rebates and audio visual tax incentives for fully-funded offshore productions.
Additionally, agriculture is a staple industry for Rakiraki locals, who sell to vendors and other operators, as well as directly selling their produce at the Rakiraki Municipal Market. This market was extended in 2017 to include a craft centre and is largest infrastructure investment by United Nations (UN) Women Fiji. Supply comes from the rich farmlands of the Ra Province, including mountainous villages in Nadarivatu and near Mt Tominivi, Fiji’s highest mountain, where the cooler climate of these elevated areas allow vegetables such as tomatoes to grow throughout the year.
Key Areas of Development
Volivoli is home to a growing number of private resort villas that are put on Fiji’s holiday rental market, with many Freehold land lots that continue to draw residential and tourism investors.
Yaqara also continues to be a drawcard for large-scale commercial and industrial companies.
Aside from Fiji Water, the Yaqara Valley is the centre of an upcoming multi-million dollar mineral-water bottling company by American investment company, 480 Holdings Company Limited, which has a 99-year lease over 400 acres from local landowners and an additional buffer zone to extract mineral water.
The areas surrounding Rakiraki Town come under the Fijian Government’s tax free region and so are subject to tax incentives by the Fiji Revenue & Customs Services. As long as they are outside municipal boundaries, newly incorporated entities who engage in new business with a minimum investment level of $250,000 may apply for a license and receive tax exemptions. These new companies must have a capital investment from $250,000-$1 million for five consecutive fiscal years or a capital investment from $1 million - $2 million for seven consecutive years, or alternatively, capital investment above $2 million for a period of 13 consecutive fiscal years. Duty exemptions apply to the importation of raw materials, machinery and equipment(including parts and materials) if these are directed to the establishment of their business in the tax free region. If a new company in the tax free region has at least 25% of indigenous Fijian landower equity, they can receive five additional years of income tax exemptions. An extra seven years of income tax exemptions can be earned for hotel developers granted a license and with indigenous Fijian landower equity of at least 25%.
Do note that with each new fiscal year, there may be slight alterations to qualify for these so it is prudent to be contact with the Fiji Revenue & Customs Authorities.
Weather, Climate & Geography
Rakiraki is noted for its warm, sunny climate, which complement the region’s plethora of diving, fishing, snorkeling, surfing and other water-based activities.
Fiji’s wet season tends to run from December to April while its dry season is from May to October. Fiji’s cyclone season is officially from November to April.
Rakiraki’s CBD lays over flatlands surrounded by mountains, and prone to flooding during heavy rainfall. Volivoli is mostly hilly terrain, which boost the panorama for residents with homes in this popular area, while other areas around Rakiraki are a mix of both flat and craggy terrain.
Population & Demographics
The Ra Province placed eleventh on the list of 15 for Fiji’s most populous provinces (include Rotuma Island) for the the 2017 Housing and Population Census. Since the previous census in 2007, Ra’s population has increased by 3.3%, settling at 30,432 people on Census night in September, 2017.
Recreational activities in Rakiraki are mostly water-based and offer a great selection of kite-surfing at Volivoli Point, snorkeling in the Nananu-i-Ra islands, fishing and diving in the Bligh Waters. The Vatu-i-Ra waters off the coast of Rakiraki are a favourite sighting point for whales and dolphins.
The heartland of Ra Province is also a fascinating experience of indigenous culture and places of customary reverence that can be traversed with local tourism operators, such as Talanoa Treks.
While the Rakiraki CBD lacks many of the conventions found in larger cities, there are areas of interest for history enthusiasts. The grave of renowned cannibal chief, Ratu Udreudre, attracts occasional visitors to his resting place along the Kings Rd, outside Rakiraki’s CBD. He reportedly consumed the body parts of over 800 people and noted in the Guiness Book of Records as the most prolific cannibal. The stones placed around his grave are said to represent each of his victims.
Further along the coast at Viti Levu Bay is the Naiserelagi Catholic Mission, where a 1962 mural by French artist, Jean Charlot depicts biblical scenes and Jesus Christ as a black man, draped in traditional bark cloth (known as masi) with a traditional basin for grog (known as a tanoa) at his feet and a crowd of Indians of Fijian descent with flowers and an ox. This localized rendition of the Calvary is a favourite for local visitors sits on a hilltop with beautiful panoramas of the bay.
Penang is home to Fiji’s oldest sugarmill and has sentimental value to generations of families who have worked for the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company (CSR), now the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
Schools & Educational Institutions
There are several primary and secondary schools in Rakiraki, though there is a limitation to institutions that provide tertiary education.
Primary schools are namely Rakiraki District School, Rakiraki Muslim Primary School , Wairuku Primary School, Navunibitu Catholic Mission School, Rakiraki Methodist Primary School while there are many more within the province’s rural areas.
Secondary schools include Penang Sangam High School, Nakauvadra High School and Rakiraki Public High School.
The Three Angels Missionary College is an evangelism college is located between Rakiraki and Tavua.
Healthcare & Emergency Services
Rakiraki Hospital can be reached on (679) 6694368. Private clinics include Naidu’s Medical Centre, which can be reached on (679 ) 6694462 / 8647888.
The Ra Society for Disabled Children can be reach on (679) 6694693.
Rakiraki Fire Station is located in the CBD and can be contacted on (679) 9292722.
Rakiraki Police Station is located in the CBD and can be contacted on (679) 6694222.
The ambulance emergency number is 911.
Energy Fiji Limited (formerly the Fiji Electricity Authority) can be reached on 132333 or on 913 for emergencies. While it does not have an office in Rakiraki, business and residential account holders here pay their bills at Max-Value Supermarket in Rakiraki’s CBD.
Key Transport Services
Rakiraki is located about two hours from Nadi International Airport, so visitors who prefer private travel are advised to arrange for a rental vehicle while in Nadi or Lautoka, as major rental car companies such as Budget Rent-A-Car and Thrifty Car Rentals do not have bases in Rakiraki.
There are taxi stands in Rakiraki’s CBD, while its main bus terminal has buses that service various road routes in and around Rakiraki.
Major bus companies such as Sunbeam Transport offer daily trips from the Rakiraki bus terminal to Lautoka, and from Rakiraki to Suva. There are stopovers at Sunbeam bases in Korovou and Nausori on the way to Suva, and at Ba on the way to Lautoka.
The Rakiraki Town Council is located along Vaileka’s main street and can be reached on (679) 6694966.
Investors who wish to inquire about leasing available Native land can visit the i Taukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) Rakiraki office, located at George Shiu Raj Building along FSC Rd, and reachable by telephone on (679) 6694120.
The Land Transport Authority is located at Kala Wati House along Yaratale Rd and can be reached on (679) 6694838.
The Water Authority of Fiji office is at Yaratale Rd and can be reached on (679) 3346777.
The Ministry of Education office is located along Waimari Rd.
Types of Properties
Close to the Rakiraki CBD, main residential areas that include Penang, which is filled with a large host of living quarters owned by the Fiji Sugar Corporation. Near the Rakiraki Hospital is also a large residential neighbourhood of residential Government quratres for civil servants and private dwellings with proximity to Penang Sangam High School and the Rakiraki Juma Masjid, a central mosque for the municipality.
Rakiraki is a small town with many residential areas that actually sit outside its municipal boundaries but still regarded as part of town.
Volivoli has a prevalence of private villas that compliment the surrounding landscape and hotels.Volivoli Point boasts excellent views of Nananu-i-Ra and Nananu-i-Cake Islands and Malake Island. Homes here are a mix of affluent resort-style properties, cement and wooden houses with large tracts of farmland on the seafront, with a large inventory of land lots.
Nakauvadra and Naria is nestled outside the Rakiraki CBD, along the Kinds Rd towards Fiji’s Central division and is also a mix of concrete homes and wooden dwellings.
Ellington is spread along the Rakiraki seafront and includes a variety of concrete homes and a jetty for the Ellington Wharf and like Nakauvadra, proximity to schools and the main Kings Rd highway.