Taveuni is the third largest island in Fiji. It has the distinction of being one of the few places (other than Northeastern Russia and Antarctica) where the 180th meridian crosses land. It rains here a lot, so be prepared and do not wait until it stops raining. Do not trust weather forecasts.
Taveuni is large enough to only support one significant settlement, the twin villages of Somosomo and Naqara. This is the location of the Meridian Cinema featured in the 2004 movie Reel Paradise.
Taveuni, also called the "garden island" of Fiji, is rugged, verdant and pristine. It lies about 7 km off the south east coast of Vanua Levu and is 42 km long and averages about 12 km wide.
Taveuni is an archetypally beautiful tropical island, thick with vegetation and resplendent with tropical flowers. Pristine rainforest covers much of the island and around 80% of this is protected by forest reserve and the Bouma National Heritage Park. Taveuni offers the visitor a rich natural history, in particular, a fine array of birdlife. Fortunately, unlike the rest of Fiji, the mongoose was never released or introduced to Taveuni and consequently many birds that have disappeared on the Main Islands still thrive here on Taveuni.
Taveuni was once home to fierce warriors; Taveuni locals still exude pride and confidence in their personalities and are called one of the most friendly people in the islands of Fiji - which is saying quite something!
Taveuni has a population of about 12,000 inhabitants, and is sparsely populated. Virtually all of the local residents live in traditional villages. Once known for its coconut plantations, Taveuni's attractions include world-class diving, dozens if not hundreds of waterfalls and an array of indigenous flora and fauna.
You can take a ferry from Suva via Savusavu to Taveuni.
- Bouma National Heritage Park. Aimed at conserving the rainforest of Taveuni and the Vanua Bouma (the land, the sea and people of Bouma). The Park was established in 1990 not only to protect the forest but also as a means of generating an income for the four villages whose land is bounded by the park. Technical assistance for the project is provided by the New Zealand Official Development Assistance (Fiji Ecotourism) Programme and the Fiji Native Land Trust Board. For more information you can contact the Tavoro Waterfalls Visitor Centre on +679 888 0390.
- Lavena Coastal Walk. Give yourself at least half a day or more to experience Lavena's wild and scenic coastline and waterfalls. A well formed track takes you from Lavena village along the coast (great for swimming and snorkelling) to an idyllic swimming hole and waterfalls. Allow four hours return to complete the walk which is mostly flat with plenty of places to stop and swim. Walk costs $15. You have to swim about 100 m to the waterfall pit, so take swimming suit and waterproof camera.
- Tavoro Waterfalls. Walking, swimming, picnicking and taking in the views – it's all possible at Tavoro Waterfalls (also known as Bouma Waterfalls). These are the most accessible waterfalls and a classic must do. There are three falls to choose from. The lower waterfall is an easy 15-minute walk, the middle fall is a moderate walk for 45 minutes and the upper fall can be reached in another one hour moderate to challenging walk. At over 30 m high, the lower fall is the most spectacular and has the biggest swimming hole. There are fantastic views on the track from the lower to the middle fall, so don't miss this one.
- Vidawa Rainforest Hike. If you want a challenging full day hike into the heart of the forest, this is it. Knowledgeable local guides will take you to archaeological sites, great view points and into the deep rainforest where you will see the traditional uses of the forest and lots of birds. Cost: $40 (with guide), booking in advance necessary. Full-day trip is 7 km, you need to take some lunch with you (take some more for the guide). You can drink water from the streams, so a 1 L bottle should be enough for 2 persons. The walk ends at lower Tavoro waterfall.
- Waitabu Marine Park. Established in 1998 in an agreement of over 7 Fijian communities not to fish or anchor in the 1 km of selected fringing reef. Aside from the small tourism business this Marine Protected Area (MPA) has provided for the community of Waitabu, who owns and operates it, it has also provided a first hand example of the power of conservation, generating larger fish catches and increased biodiversity in the surrounding waters.
- 1 Site of the International Date Line, Wairiki. Well it was, until it was changed so Taveuni would not be bisected into different days. The 180th meridian runs through Taveuni.
- 2 Qeleni Village. Traditional Fijian culture can be experienced at Qeleni Village. It is an eco-tourism project in the lower highlands that offers cultural dances and handicrafts for sale. It is in a beautiful rainforest and gives an insight into the traditional Fiji.
- Warrior Burial Cave/Southcape Blowholes. Created by a lava tube, this cave is about 350 m long and terminates at the ocean's edge. In former times, Fijians used this site as a secret burial cave for warriors. It is believed that Taveuni's greatest warriors were buried here to keep their remains hidden from enemies. Most of the large bones were removed in the 1950s after the cave was discovered.
- Waitavala Waterslide. This is a picturesque spot, secluded and fun. Swim in pure refreshing cool waters and slide down the natural slipper dip. To avoid injury at best wait for some locals, they will show you where to start sliding and make sure there is enough water.
- Wairiki Mission. The most architecturally interesting edifice on Taveuni. Situated on the edge of a splendid coconut plantation, it is also known as the Taveuni Catholic Church. It is a good example of the British colonial Romanesque architecture. Located on a hill, it overlooks the historic site where Taveuni warriors turned back thousands of invading Tongans in a battle that was fought in canoes just off the beach. It was this particular battle that turned the tide in a war that had seen Tongans stakes over much of Fiji. The locals celebrated the victory by cooking and eating their enemies with breadfruit.
- Des Veaux Peak. Access to this place is by hike or four-wheel drive only. It is 1196 m above sea level and is home to the famous tagimocia flower, a beautiful red bloom with a white centre – it grows nowhere else in the world and is Fiji's national flower. Des Veaux Peak, Fiji's second highest mountain, has spectacular birdlife and flora. Orange breasted doves, silktails, ferntails and parrots are just a few surprises. Lake Tagimocia is perhaps the famous landmark on Taveuni. It is situated in an extinct volcanic crater, at a height of 832 m; the lake is filled with floating masses of vegetation.
Beneath the surface of sea, in the coral reefs that fringe the island, is an extremely rich eco-system that rivals the bio-diversity found on the surface. Fed by rich nutrients that emerge from the depths of the Tongan trench, Taveuni is famous for its multitude of tropical, pelagic fish. However, if there is one trademark or signature species in the area, it is soft coral, which billows and undulates in the currents.
Soft coral comes in dramatic, sometimes electric hues of orange, red, pink and white, which is fringed by purple.
While the diving in the Taveuni area is stunning and virtually unscathed by the 21st century, it is not generally a place to bring absolute novice divers. The currents can be strong and unwieldy for those unaccustomed to them and one should have some prior experience as a diver before venturing here. This is true when diving the Somosomo Strait, a relatively narrow waterway located between Taveuni and Vanua Levu. Along the southeast shore of Vanua Levu one will find a barrier reef continually fed by micro-organisms washed by the currents driven by the narrowing of the fun eel-like strait.
Protruding into the strait from the Vanua Levu side to about 3km from the shores of Taveuni is a magnificent reef, called Rainbow Reef.
Here one can find one of the most famous dive sites in the South Pacific, the Great White Wall. It is named because of the unusual soft coral that inhabit the area. Starting at a depth of about 15 m and continuing to over 65 m, this underwater escarpment is covered with an almost luminescent white coral tinged with lavender. There are a great number of other dive sites sprinkled throughout the area and new attractions are found all the time. It is estimated that only 5% of the entire reef system in the Taveuni area has been explored by divers and it's not unusual to see pelagics such as dolphins, turtles, eagle rays and a number of species of shark.
Pristine and abundant waters surround your home base of Taveuni Island, Fiji. All the various prime fishing habitats are here and begin five minutes after launching, opening up to a vastness of virtually virgin fishing grounds in every direction.
You can expect to find the Somosomo straits and outlying areas to be dotted with acres of birds and teeming baitfish, primarily skipjack, small Yellow Fin Tuna, big eyed scads, regular scaddies, flying fish, mackerel and ballyhoo. Within the day range, anglers can expect to find all types of pelagic and reef fish as the topography is varied with ribbon reefs, pinnacles, islands, channels, outer reefs, straits and sandy flats. Every direction is full of possibilities for an exciting, productive day of fishing of world class trophies. Depending on the anglers' preference they can fish for Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Swordfish, Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi-mahi, Yellow fin, Big Eye Tuna and Albacore and depending on the fates they will catch them. For the reef fisherman who enjoys casting there is Giant Trevally, Blue fin Trevally, Barracuda, Walu, and Dogtooth Tuna.
YanuyanuART in Matei, where you can purchase or even hand print your own sulu with designs carved from wood. Carving, artworks, jewellery, commissions and good conversation also available.
On Taveuni, all but one restaurant are attached to a hotel.
- 1 Maravu Lodge, Main Coast Road, Matei, Taveuni Island, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Vuna Lagoon Lodge, Southern end of Taveuni island next to Vuna village, ☏ . Your host is a traditional owner, daughter of the late Tui (Two-ee, means King or Paramount Chief) Vuna, Adi (pronounced An-dee, means Noble Lady) Salote Samanunu. The accommodation is right on a large lagoon, and it takes some time to get to the reef from the water's edge. Electricity is available for 3 hr in the evening. The surrounds are amazingly beautiful, and a small boutique 4-star resort, Paradise Taveuni, is a short drive which offers snorkeling/diving equipment and other facilities at a reasonable cost. Otherwise activities include swimming, a blow-hole tour, snorkelling (bring own gear), and reef fishing (bring own gear), village tours, farm tours, horse riding. May need to ring a few times to get hold of owner, who is an excellent at fishing. From $25 per person per night (dorm), $50 (single), $75 (double). Food: either bring your own and cook in communal kitchen or from $24 per person per night.
- 2 Nakia Resort & Dive Fiji, Nakia. A family-run resort and dive operation with 5 or 6 bures (Fijian-style cottages) and wonderful home cooking.
- 3 The Remote Resort, (via Taveuni) Rainbow Reef, Vanua Levu, ☏ . An all-inclusive luxe castaway experience with dedicated island hosts.
- 4 Tides Reach Resort, Matei, ☏ . Four villas built on Taveuni's white sandy beach.