The Fijian Boats

Melanesian and Polynesian ancestors are renowned as some the world’s most successful and innovative navigators. Using their knowledge of start and tides, seafarers explored vast areas of the Pacific Ocean. They discovered and settled nearly every inhabitable island in the Pacific Ocean well before European explorers got here in the 16th century, primarily using the Camakau and the Drua.  


Camakau (pronounced Th-ma-kau) are a traditional watercraft of Fiji. Part of the broader Austronesian tradition, they are similar to catamarans, outrigger canoes, or smaller versions of the Drua. The camakau was used for travel, fishing, defense, and communication.


“The Camakau. Source: The University of Auckland”

Drua, also known as Na Drua, N'drua, Ndrua or Vaka Tepu (sacred canoe), is a double-hull sailing boat that originated in the south-western Pacific islands. Druas do not tack but rather shunt (stern becomes the bow and vice versa). Both ends of each hull are identical, but the hulls are of different sizes and the smaller one is always sailed to windward. The main differences compared to other Pacific proas, are that the hulls have a symmetric U-form profile, and a second hull is used instead of an outrigger. When a float (cama) is used in place of the smaller hull, the craft is called a Camakau (or Tamakau).


”The Drua. Source: State Library of New South Wales”

The Fijian double canoe (wangga ndrua, spelt waqa drua in Fijian) was the largest and finest sea-going vessel ever designed and built by natives of Oceania before contact with Europeans.

Canoes of Oceania Volume I: The Canoes of Polynesia, Fiji, and Micronesia

Druas were large, up to 30 meters (98 ft) long, and could carry more than 200 people. Despite being called "canoes" they were not dugouts, but plank-built ships.


Read More