What is a traditional Fijian kava ceremony?

Fiji is a country brimming with fascinating history, ancient traditions and a vibrant culture that we're endlessly proud to embody here at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort.

The kava ceremony is just one of the time-honoured practises held at our five star luxury resort. But just what can you expect from this world-renowned ritual?

Find out what a kava ceremony involves below.

What is kava?

Kava is a traditional, non-alcoholic Fijian drink made from the ground root of the piper mythisticum – a type of black pepper plant grown in the Pacifics. It contains a number of natural active chemicals known as kava lactones. These have been found to produce a number of effects such as muscle relaxation, medicinal benefits and a slight numbing sensation – all of which are safe if consumed in moderation.

Upon harvest, kava is ground and mixed with water to dilute the substance for safe consumption. It's then strained to deliver an earthy flavour and appearance, ready for drinking at special events and ceremonial occasions.

Are you ready to experience a kava ceremony?Kava plants can grow up to 2.5 metres tall!

What happens in a traditional kava ceremony?

Kava is often consumed as part of a tradtional ceremony at local Fijian villages. If you're lucky enough to join, there are a few rules you must adhere to. Before entering a village, visitors must first gain formal permission from the chief. This traditional protocol is otherwise known as sevusevu and involves the presentation of kava to the village chief on arrival.

When joining our complimentary excursion to the local village of Nukubalavu, the sevusevu is done on your behalf. If you do meet the chief during this visit, it's important to stay below his eye level to avoid causing disrespect. Always bow, introduce yourself and back away without turning away.

When accepting this traditional Fijian drink, clap once with cupped hands, take the drink, and consume the entirety of it. Once finished, return the cup to the person who gave it to you and clap strongly three times. You may feel a slight numbing sensation on your tongue, but kava is considered very safe to drink in small quantities. However, if you are on any type of medication or are of ill-health, we suggest politely declining this drink. If this is the case, extend both hands outwards with your thumbs overlapping and say 'vinaka', which means no thank you. 

You may feel a slight numbing sensation on your tongue, but kava is considered very safe to drink in small quantities.

How the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort can bring you closer to the action

Guests of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort can partake in a traditional kava ceremony most evenings and when joining our complimentary excursion to the local village of Nukubalavu.

We're extremely proud of our heritage and work to practise various traditional Fijian traditions wherever possible. Guests can experience a cultural lovo feast, take part in a Fijian story-telling session and of course, immerse yourself in the unforgettable kava ceremony. Discover a world of culture and tradition when staying at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort.