Fiji Travel

Kava Ceremony in Fiji

Part of your stay at Likuliku Lagoon Resort – should you wish – is to experience the traditional Kava ceremony.

Ceremony at Sunset

Kava Ceremony – Photo © Gourmantic

Kava is a traditional Fijian drink and plays a major part of Fijian culture. The drink which is made from the crushed root of the yaqona plant (kava root), mixed with water and strained into a large communal kava bowl.

Kava Bowl

Kava Ceremony – Photo © Gourmantic

The kava ceremony involves sitting in a circle around the kava bowl, or kava tanoa which is placed in front of the leader, usually an elder. The kava is prepared by pounding the plant in a cloth and mixing it with water, or in more modern times, placing the powdered root in a cloth bag and mixing it with water. The liquid turns a brown shade. Kava is then offered to the men first then the women.

Kava Ceremony

Kava Ceremony – Photo © Gourmantic

When kava is served, you will be offered “high tide” (a full cup) or “low tide” (a half cup). The ritual involves you clapping once, saying “Bula” (Fijian for hello) and drinking the liquid in one go followed by three claps and the word maca (pronounced ma-tha).

Kava Ceremony

Kava Cup – Photo © Gourmantic

Kava is a non-alcoholic beverage with mild sedative properties. You may have heard some people refer to the taste as “bitter, muddy water”. In my experience, the taste is similar to that of orris root, a key botanical in gin with a hint of bitterness. The ceremonial drink has the effect of some numbness around the mouth, lips and tongue which is very pleasant. 

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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.