Taveuni Diving Holidays
Taveuni Island Travel Information
Named the 'Garden Island' due to the colourful profusion of tropical plants and flowers, Taveuni is surrounded by waters as rich as the topside flora making it Fiji's unofficial diving capital.
Taveuni is an island of lush rainforest, free from population centres or tourist 'hot-spots', making it a choice location to taste all the wonders of Fiji. This is Fiji's third largest island, lying to the east of Viti Levu across the astonishing waters of the world-famous Somosomo Strait. The rugged coastlines rise up to vaulting volcanic peaks that make the soil as fertile as anywhere in Fiji.
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How to Get There
Taveuni is easy to get to with several daily flights from Nadi, although its distance makes it expensive to visit for a short stay. The flight itself however can be beautiful, peering down over the splendour of the crystal Fijian seas.
Fiji Airways has daily flights from Nadi and Suva to Taveuni - Nadi 1½ hours, Suva 1 hour. There are also several flights a day from Savusavu (Vanua Levu).
A popular route for those with at least a week to spare is to take the ferry from Suva to the island. It is also possible to take a ferry from here to Savusavu or a smaller boat across Buca Bay to the east tip of Vanua Levu.
Beaches and Nearby Islands
There are some beautiful white sand beaches on the little islands surrounding Taveuni main island, whereas Taveuni's volcanic history has left it with fine black sand beaches. Although perhaps not as photogenic, the black beaches are great for swimming and snorkelling. Deserving of particular mention are those of Matei and Lavena. Boat trips can be arranged to the nearby islands.
There are 3 beautiful islets situated off the north east coast of Taveuni: Qamea, Laucala and Matagi islands. The islets have fabulous white sand beaches and a low flight over this area is superb. They are privately owned islands and only Qamea will consider visitors as it has a camping ground. Qamea is the site of an annual migration of land crabs where some time in November / December vast numbers of crabs make their annual scuttle down to the sea. Great snorkelling and bird watching also add to this island's attractions.
Sightseeing and Things to do in Taveuni
As well as the fabulous diving, Taveuni offers plenty for the nature lover. There are treks and hikes galore for those with the energy. 2 not to be missed are the Lavena Coastal Walk, with its bizarre rock formations, pools and falls, and Tavoro Falls in Bouma National Heritage Park. Des Voeux Peak, the second highest point on the island, is also a rewarding experience especially for bird watchers.
A rough sometimes muddy trail just inland from Waiyevo takes you to Lake Tagimaucia. Here between October and December you can find in abundance the rare and beautiful Tagimaucia flower. Beyond Waiyevo, the road becomes rough and passes several impressive waterfalls. The Matamaiqi blowholes and coastal pandanus forests are the main attractions in the very south of Taveuni.
For the ornithologist inside you the island is a great place to spot rare and beautiful birds such as parrots and fantails. The king of the birds here however has to be the orange or flame dove, a rare and wonderfully coloured specimen.
If action is more your thing, then check out the thrills, spills and occasional gashes of the Waitavala water slide outside Waiyevo. Participants hurtle down these naturally occurring rock chutes with a delight only slightly lessened by high speed bone-on-rock collisions. If you see several people emerging unscathed it may be worth a go.
You can go horse-riding in the south or try your hand at game fishing from Matei if you wish to spend the afternoon slaughtering the wonderful creatures you spent the morning marveling at.
Entertainment, Dining Out & Nightlife
Dance clubs, pubs, go-go bars, foam parties and the like have yet to make it to Taveuni. There is a cinema in Wairiki screening Bollywood movies at weekends, if you like that sort of thing.
Instead you can have a few beers or whisky cokes in almost every restaurant. If you are lucky (some would say unlucky) you can spend an evening with the locals gathered round a big bowl of kava. The liquid extracted from the root is said to have hallucinogenic qualities. Despite Dive The World's determined efforts to establish the validity of this claim the best we can confirm is a tingling of the mouth and a sense of well-being. Then again that may just be the company of the Fijian people.
Waiyevo and Naqara are probably the best dining option in the south of the island. Apart from the resorts where the food can be excellent there are other options although the fare may be rather basic consisting of western, Indian and local dishes.
Matei in the north is home to some of the best restaurants on the island where you can eat on beach decks or verandahs watching the planes coming in to land at the airport over the islets a little offshore. The choices in Matei include pizzas, curries and 3 courses of fresh seafood.
Tourist shopping is limited to food and drink and handicrafts. There are supermarkets in Wairiki, Naqara and Matei selling fresh produce as well as market stalls in Naqara which make for an interesting browse. Handicrafts for sale in resort gift shops and in Waiyevo are of the traditional wooden and woven variety.
The Local People
The population of Taveuni and the smaller islands is 13,000 and they are almost entirely Fijian. English is the official language.
Taveuni is almost entirely Christian and is the site of one of Fiji's most important historic battles during missionary times. A marauding Tongan chief attempted to add Taveuni to his list of conquered Fijian islands but was repelled by the resilient local forces in the canoe battle of Wairiki. Those that were captured were readily eaten by the jubilant warrior fold. A mission house was built on the site to mark the assistance lent to the island forces by a French missionary.
The mission house is a beautiful building to visit or in which to attend mass, with spectacular views over the Somosomo Strait.
Local buses trundle around the island (very slowly uphill) and are a great place to get chatting to the locals. The bus schedule is about as strictly adhered to as you would expect from Fijian folk, and buses are sometimes cancelled so you need to be a sure as you can that you will get to and from your destination
4WD cars can be rented in Naqara although, for a days sightseeing, it may be better to book a cab in Matei or Waiyevo and haggle for a good price - certainly below that of a hire car. Most taxi drivers fancy themselves as tour guides, and a good one can be a real bonus.
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Be sure to book up in plenty of time to avoid limited choice! The best Taveuni dive opportunities are booked by repeat customers who book well in advance to ensure their reservation!
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