Taveuni

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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Cities

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.

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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.

Other sights and activities include:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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Events and Festivals

  • Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May. It commemorates Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, a hero in the First World War, who was honored with France’s highest military award. He is considered the father of modern Fiji.
  • Christmas in the tropics is an experience in itself. Visit one of the Christmas Eve carol services to enjoy some fine Fijian singing.
  • Honoring the Founder of Modern Fiji Festival - The last Monday in May is a commemoration to the Father of Modern Fiji, Ratu Sir Lala Sakuna. The festivities last for an entire week, with many different towns and cities celebrating in their own way. The event concludes with a presidential speech relating to Fijian unity, and the statue of Ratu Sir Lala Sakuna is polished by locals.
  • Diwali Festival - Due to Fiji’s large Indian population, the Diwali Festival is one of the main events held on the islands. Celebrated in the month of October, Diwali (which is also known as the Festival of Lights) is characterized by fantastic light shows, traditional firecracker displays, and plenty of night-time fun. It isn’t just the Indian population that gets into the swing of things, as all cultures love any excuse to party.

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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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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

  • Maravu Lodge, ☎ +679 8880555, e-mail: travellersfiji@gmail.com.
  • The Remote Resort, via Taveuni. An all-inclusive luxe castaway experience with dedicated island hosts.
  • Nakia Resort & Dive Fiji is a family-run resort and dive operation with 5 or 6 bures (Fijian-style cottages) and wonderful home cooking.
  • Tides Reach Resort. Four villas built on Taveuni's white sandy beach.

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This is version 5. Last edited at 10:16 on Aug 30, 18 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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