The Fiji Times

Coffee paradise on

- Hot chocolate and latte with cookies for afternoon tea.

NVELOPED by tropical trees, shrubs and beautifull­y landscaped gardens, Café Planet, at Korotogo offers you the tranquil respite you’ll ever need when travelling to, from and past Korotogo on the famed Coral Coast.

You’ll love the natural ambience that greets you behind the natural heliconia fence and marvel at the swaying emerald verdure that protect you from above like parasols.

Here the unique blend of sights, aromas and tastes combine to stimulate your senses and teleport you to an experience that not many coffee-themed establishm­ents here can offer.

Café Planet owner, Adriaan Rodenburg, who first travelled to Fiji in the 1970s and fell in love with a local woman, started the roadside coffee haven in 2018 not as a regular coffee outlet but as bistrostyl­ed boutique cafe.

Its high-end cottage features therefore allow patrons to enjoy unique, niche market products alongside a small but loyal customer base.

“We started here in 2018, about five years ago,” Mr Rodenburg said.

He had planned to set his coffee shop at the Sigatoka sand dunes but the delay in talks with authoritie­s forced him to choose Korotogo.

“We chose this place because we liked nature,” he said.

The Dutch businessma­n first came to Fiji in the 1970s when he used to work for a Dutch trading company.

Since then, he has been moving in and out of the country until a few years ago when he decided to have his own splice of paradise and take advantage of the weather on the Coral Coast.

Mr Rodenburg’s family members owned Bulachinno Café, one of the forerunner­s to Fiji’s coffee culture.

“I had started renting at the cottage behind this cafe when the guy who was living here moved out,” he said.

“It was a one-bedroom place then so as the wait for the authoritie­s on my sand dunes plan dragged on we decided to set up here and I’ve never regreted it.”

“We had to clean things up a bit and take advantage of the nice natural environmen­t. I love Korotogo, it is a nice place and has nice weather. I’ve lived in Suva and Nadi but think this is best.”

At Café Planet you won’t ever get tied down by the hustle and bustle and metro feel of city street coffee outlets, although it is just a stone’s throw away from the main road.

The secret is the garden, which is protected by a living hedge and a sense of privacy that guarantees calming solitude and the ecological and aesthetic endowments of a tropical garden.

“I moved to Asia and South America but Fiji was always home because I was married here,” Mr Rodenburg said.

“We had four children and three of them remain in Fiji.”

Café Planet offers all the pleasantri­es of a coffee bistro, with an amazing touch of home cooking.

You could take advantage of home-baked oat-inspired cookies, pies, ginger choc fudge cake and Louis’ coconut and salt caramel.

A side from coffee, there’s a small selection of teas and smoothies.

Above: Outdoor table and chairs.


AN from Savusavu, Cakaudrove has been hailed a hero in the United States for the part he played in providing assistance during the recent Lahaina wildfire on Maui, Hawaii

On August 8, wildfires swept across Maui and killed at least 97 people, making it one of the America’s deadliest disasters.

For weeks, the authoritie­s had said that 115 people died in the fire but this week the figue was revised.

But what people didn’t know is that the fire could have wrought even more destructio­n, were it not for the brave actions of a husband and wife who were fleeing the fire.

Would you also have guessed that the guy who has been hailed as a hero by the media was from Vanua Levu? Yes, as in Fiji!

On August 8 Steven Pickering and his wife Jessica were driving to another town on Maui to take their vehicle in for servicing.

Steven is from Naqalaka, near Bagasau, a village on the Hibiscus Highway in Cakaudrove, Vanua Levu.

Steven and Jessica run a dive shop in Lahaina which was lost in the fires.

“The wind was really strong that day,” Steven told the American media..

“On our way back we grabbed some food and then when we got home the wind really picked up so we decided to close everything up in case things started to go flying in the wind.

“We were just going to stay home and watch movies.”

At around midday they noticed their neighbours had started cutting away trees that had fallen on the road and on some houses.

“At around the same time we started to smell smoke.”

They packed up their dogs and jumped into the car to get out of the area.

When they went outside the house smoke was starting to fill the air.

Jessica started grabbing food and packing things to take with them as Steven climbed on the roof to hose their house down.

The winds were pushing 110 kilometres per hour and Jessica was shouting for Steven to come down.

As Jessica was packing up the car, Steven - still on the roof began shouting to her that they needed to leave immediatel­y because the fire was visible.

They got into their car and sped off, or at least they tried.

As people were leaving traffic began to build at the two exits leading out of their neighbourh­ood.

They went from one to the other but they both jammed up.

As they turned around from the second exit Jessica noticed the fire in the bushes of a house seven or so doors down from theirs.

Steven jumped out, turned on the garden hose and put the fire out.

“It was scary, car horns were honking, ambers were flying all over the place.

“It was just one of those things that I just did without thinking about it too much and it ended up saving the neighbourh­ood.”

Steven also started spraying down the lawn but Jessica called him back into the car because they needed to go.

They spent almost an hour in traffic trying to get to safety.

When the fires stopped and the damage was surveyed, the houses on their block were saved from the fires.

On Thursday, this newspaper spoke to the couple, Steve and Jess Pickering, via Messenger, to get a fair idea of what happened on that tragic day.

This week we publish Part 1 of our Q&A with the Pickerings, outlining in details what happened in Lahaina on the day of the fire and how the couple fled to safety.

Q: Can you share a little bit about yourselves, and then about your experience during the Lahaina fires.

Jess: We met diving in Savusavu in 2015 and were married 10 months later in 2016.

We moved to Maui together and bought a dive shop in 2017, we have run Maui Diving - Scuba & Snorkel Center in Lahaina since 2017.

On the day of the fire, we closed the shop because the winds were so bad.

The power was out at the shop earlier in the day, so we closed everything, sent everybody home and cancelled all the dives.

We were home that day and we

A video on NBC News showing Steven Pickering watering the bushes in front of a house in Lahaina.

noticed a lot of wind throughout the day. I took various Facebook videos of things like the trees falling down around the neighbourh­ood.

It was around four o’clock in the afternoon when I started to notice smoke and the fire.

I went out the front door and noticed huge black smoke. I said to

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Picture: JOHN KAMEA The shell-adorned entry into Cafe Planet.
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Picture: NBC News

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