Where to Stand on the International Date Line in Fiji

The International Date Line is one of those travel destinations that often eludes even the hardiest of travelers. It’s out there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the place where today becomes tomorrow and where yesterday is really today. Travel east and you lose a day. Travel west and you gain a day.

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Where is the International Date Line

Map of the international date lineTechnically, the International Date Line is located at the 180º line of longitude and runs from the North Pole to the South Pole. The problem is this — there are not many places where that line actually touches land. That makes it difficult to find find a place where you can stand in both today, tomorrow and yesterday all at the same time.

Fiji is one of those few places where you can stand on the international date line.

Where Exactly is Fiji?

A sandy beach on an island in FijiFiji is a beautiful South Pacific island nation where you expect Rodgers and Hammerstein-wannabes to jump from behind a palm tree and break into song. That English is one of the official languages makes it an easier travel experience for most North Americans. However, a 10-hour flight from Los Angeles into Nadi (pronounced Nan-di) is about as much fun as it sounds.

New Zealand is about 1,200 miles south; Australia is about 2,000 miles east of Fiji.

Viator

The Reef Endeavor of Captain Cook CruisesMade up of 320 islands, Fiji requires an airplane or a boat for getting around. I chose Captain Cook Cruises, in part because they promised to take me to the International Date Line.

I also like small ship cruises and the Reef Endeavor holds just 130 passengers. Smaller ships can more easily snuggle up close to many of those islands in shallow.
Bouma Falls in Fiji near the International Date Line

It had everything you want on a cruise – lots of good food, a small spa service, a swimming pool, evening entertainment and an attentive, professional staff. Many of the guests were from Australia or New Zealand, so that was fun talking with them and hearing their perspective on life. In addition to a visit to the International Date Line, the shore excursions included swimming at Bouma Falls, attending a Fijian language church service and an authentic village kava ceremony.

                                 

Finding the International Date Line in Fiji

The International Date Line makes landfall on the island of Taveuni, a place we visited on a Sunday morning.There were no signs, no streams of traffic or tourists to follow. No lines. If our guide from the boat hadn’t led the way, I would not have had a clue which way to go.

a little church sits near the International Date Line in Fiji

Church services were underway at this little shelter the morning we visited the International Date Line.

We made our way across what appeared to be a soccer field or sporting venue of some kind toward a grove of trees and a little tin shack of some kind. The shack, as it turned out, was an Assembly of God Church located right on the 180th meridian. So were they worshiping on Saturday or Sunday, or was it Monday already?

Nearby under the little grove of trees a few feet from the church was a rather beat up sign.

This was it. This was the International Date Line.

Standing on the international date lineAt first it was a little underwhelming. Not so  much as a chalk line painted on the well-worn ground identified where one day ended and the next began. And the sign was in serious need of some maintenance.

There were no T-shirt vendors or vendors of any kind selling over-priced tchotskies with “international date line” stamped on it. No one was selling ice cream or overpriced soft drinks and no one offered to take your picture for an outrageous tip.

It was kind of refreshing – a place not spoiled by the economics of tourism.

We all took each others’ pictures and stood around for a while enjoying the atmosphere. We returned to the boat with a sense of satisfaction.

That’s what travel is all about.

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