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Taveuni

Photo © Peter

Travel Guide Oceania Melanesia Fiji Taveuni

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Introduction

Taveuni is the third-largest island in Fiji, after Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, with a total land area of 434 square kilometres. The cigar-shaped island, a massive shield volcano which rises from the floor of the Pacific Ocean, is situated 6.5 kilometres to the east of Vanua Levu, across the Somosomo Strait. It belongs to the Vanua Levu Group of islands and is part of Fiji's Cakaudrove Province within the Northern Division.

Taveuni has abundant flora and is known as the 'Garden Island of Fiji'. It is a popular tourist destination. Tourists are attracted to the excellent diving opportunities, prolific bird life, bushwalks and waterfalls. Central parts of the island receive very high rainfall rates. Being volcanic in origin Taveuni's soils have supported the island's most historically significant industry, agriculture.

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Geography

Taveuni is located at the northern end of the Koro Sea and is entirely the product of volcanic activity. Fiji's third largest island is separated from Vanua Levu by the Somosomo Strait. The island is between 10 and 14 kilometres wide and 42 kilometres long, is the top of a dormant, elongated shield volcano which erupted from a northeast-southwest trending rift on the ocean floor. About 150 volcanic cones dot the island, including Uluigalau, Fiji's second highest peak at 1,241 metres, and Des Vœux Peak, next in height at 1,195 metres.

Of interesting note is that the island of Taveuni crosses the east-west antimeridian so the "northeastern" portion of the island is located at - 179 degrees longitude and the south-western part at +179 degrees longitude. This is often an example that causes havoc to GIS software in which a polygon geometry around the perimeter of the island is incorrectly rendered and wraps around the globe.

To protect Fiji's wildlife, two sanctuaries have been created on the island of Taveuni, namely the Ravilevu Nature Preserve on the east coast, and the Taveuni Forest Preserve in the middle of the island.

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Sights and Activities

Lake Tagimaucia is one of Taveuni's most famous tourist attractions. It occupies a volcanic crater at an altitude of 800 metres, and is the habitat the rare tagimaucia flower. Fiji's most famous waterfalls, the Bouma Falls, are also on the island, located in the Bouma National Heritage Park. The highlight of the region is the Matamaiqi blowhole with geysers created by trade winds crashing into the volcanic rocks. About 20 minutes by foot from the town of Waiyevo is the Waitavala Waterslide. This entirely natural streambed chute plummets for about 50 metres down the lush hillside and is a favourite haunt for local children and brave tourists. In eastern Taveuni the Savulevu Yavonu Waterfall empties into the ocean. Tavoro Creek, Somosomo Creek, Waimbula River and the islands most notable waterways.

Many of Taveuni's best known attractions lie underwater though. There are three major, distinct diving areas around the island. To the north of Taveuni lie in close proximity the islands of Qamea and Matagi with their surrounding reef systems. The Rainbow Reef and Vuna Reef are famous for diving and snorkeling, respectively. The Rainbow Reef, on the western side in the narrow Somosomo Strait between Taveuni and Vanua Levu, is known as one of the world's premier soft coral dive areas. The horseshoe-shaped Vuna Lagoon, near the southern end of the island, is much appreciated among divers for the opportunity to see larger pelagic and schooling fish species on the exposed southern side of the reef, whereas the sheltered western parts provide pristine soft and hard coral gardens. Migrating humpback whales pass the island in July.

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Weather

The climate of Taveuni and Fiji is tropical without temperate extremes. Between November and April the area is prone to tropical cyclones. Rainfall rates on the island are high because the central mountains produce precipitation by orographic uplift. As much as 10 metres of rain falls annually on the eastern side of the island, but the western side is sheltered from the southeast trade winds by the ridge that runs the length of the island. The central ridge experiences a wet upland climate which supports montane and submontane forests. Near Mount Koroturanga, 9,970 mm of mean, annual rainfall has been recorded.

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Getting There

Fiji Airways flies to Taveuni from Nadi and Suva.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 8:24 on Aug 22, 16 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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