Did you know that Taveuni is listed in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die? I’d put it well up that list personally, but there again I live here and so probably somewhat biased. If you ever decide to tick Taveuni off your todo list then here is another list for you to check out – it’s my Top Ten guide of things to do here, all of which I have done with the execption of one.
So, in no particular order, here they are:
1. Lavena Beach and Lavena Coastal Walk
The beach at Lavena is the best on Taveuni, a strip of white sand fringed with tall coconut palms – definitely something akin to the classic tropical island beach people dream of. There aren’t that many sandy beaches on Taveuni, and even fewer white ones. Due to the islands volcanic history many beaches are black sand that has been broken down from rock by the millenia of erosion. At Lavena though they are blessed by a beautiful white one, perfect for placing your footprints in paradise.
The Lavena Coastal Walk continues beyond the beach following the coastline, sometimes darting inland, crossing rivers and streams, up and down cliffsides, skirting small villages and farms with magical scenery all the way. The final section takes you inland, following a stream until you reach a pool. Swim through the pool and you find yourself in another plunge-pool at the foot of a waterfall. If you are daring enough you can climb the rocks, place yourself in the stream that feeds the waterfall and be shot out over the waterfall and into the pool below.
The coastal walk is about 10km there and back, so allow about half a day, or longer, to give time to enjoy it fully. There is a small fee payable at the Lavena Lodge which goes towards to cost of maintaining the path.
2. Bouma / Tavoro Falls
This is probably at the top, or very near the top, of everyone’s list when they visit Taveuni. The waterfalls have been featured in many magazines and postcards, and innumerable photo galleries and travelogs on the web. There are three waterfalls, the first being only a short walk of 10 minutes or so from the visitor centre. The first also happens to be the largest, 24 metres high, and most spectacular, so if you’re not in the mood for a strenuous hike then simply enjoy some time here in the cool and clear waters.
The second waterfall is a more energetic hike of 30-40 minutes with the reward of some excellent views out across the forests, ocean and nearby islands. These falls are 15 metres high.
The final falls requires another fairly challenging hike – about an hour depending on your fitness – with a few stream crossings to contend with and slippery conditions underfoot. If you get this far then the odds are you will have the place to yourself – some scenic solitude and satisfaction at having got where most don’t set foot !
As with the Lavena Coastal Walk, there is a small fee to pay at the Visitor Centre to go towards the running costs of the park.
You can check out more info for the Lavena Coastal Walk and Tavoro falls on the Bouma National Heritage Park website.
3. Des Voux Peak and Tagimoucia Lake
Des Voux Peak is the second highest peak on Taveuni. You need a good day weather-wise for this one, otherwise your hard work hiking to the top (or 4WD if you’re less energetic, some hiking still required at the end though) will be rewarded by nothing more than a close-up view of cloud, mist and rain. Plus the communications mast, which might be exciting for comms geeks. As you hike higher there is a better chance of seeing some of Taveuni’s more exotic birdlife, and with a clear day at the top views of the Somosomo Strait, Rainbow Reef and neighbouring islands in a spectacular panorama.
For the really adventurous and fit, then from the peak there is the option of continuing to Lake Tagimoucia. This is a full day hike, meaning departure for the peak before dawn. The lake lies within a volcanic crater and is home to one of the worlds rarest flowers – the Tagimoucia flower, a flower of Fijian legends. To catch sight of this almost mythical flower you need to visit the lake between October and February.
Although I have ascended Des Voux Peak, I have never done the hike to the lake – something I aim to put right later this year.
4. Play Golf at Soqulu Golf and Country Club
There is a 9-hole golf course within Taveuni Estates (Soqulu) adjacent to the Clubhouse. Although all the holes are par 3 it is quite challenging, definitely not in the pitch-and-putt class, and there are some lovely views to enjoy in between shots so take a camera. If the Clubhouse is open you can have a few cold beers after sweating it around the course, or take a dip in the swimming pool.
The Clubhouse and golf course are run and maintained by Garden Island Resort, and there may be a fee to pay depending on your visitor status, eg Soqulu resident or resident guest, Garden Island guest, or an on or off-island visitor. Or it may depend on how many beers you drink and pizzas you eat – eat and drink enough and any fee might be waived !!
[Update: Please note that Soqulu Clubhouse is currently closed. For drinks and food, pop over the road to the Salty Fox Bar and Grill at Taveuni Dive Resort]
5. Civa Pearl Farm
The Civa Pearl Farm is owned, managed and run by Claude and Danielle, two of my friends here on Taveuni. Visits to the farm can be arranged through resorts or by telephone (please don’t show up unannounced !!) and you will be treated to a fascinating insight into the lifecycle of a pearl. Check out this link to Rebecca Thompsons’s much more in-depth blog article: What Do You Mean Pearls Aren’t 100% Natural?.
[Update: Civa Fiji Pearls recently opened their new boutique store in Matei – go check it out if you’re on Taveuni]
6. Scuba Diving or Snorkelling
Taveuni has some of the worlds best dive sites, so if you’re a bit fishy then this should be top of your list. The Somosomo Strait is home to the famous Rainbow Reef, and the site everyone wants to dive there is The Great White Wall. Since Taveuni is popular with divers, it has it’s fair share of dive operators – two to check out are Taveuni Dive, run by Taveuni Estates residents Karl and Muriel Fox, and Taveuni Ocean Sports run by Julie Kelly out of Nakia Resort.
[Check out this related Post: Underwater Photography with Heather Sutton for a taste of Taveuni’s dive sites]
7. Waitavala Waterslide
My sons personal favourite !! The waterslides have been crafted by nature – rock smoothed by the persistent passage of time and water into a slippery slope that is not for the faint-hearted. The locals make this look easy, and I guess the biggest obstacles to overcome if you want to give it a go are apprehension, nervousness and maybe fear !! Try it sitting, facing forwards, backwards, standing, however you dare. There is a small plunge-pool at the end of the ride – be careful not to overshoot else it will be a bumpy trip down to the coast and an emergency pick-up from the Somosomo Strait. The falls are located off the main coastal road near Garden Island Resort, where you could go for a beer afterwards if your limbs are still intact. If not, then the hospital is a short distance up the hill.
8. Vuna Blowholes
Head down south along the Coastal Road past Paradise Resort (which is an excellent place for lunch by the way – book ahead) and you will reach some rocky cliffs where, on a day with the right conditions, you can witness the blowholes blowing their holes. The blowholes are actually ancient lava tubes which channel water at high pressure skywards as the waves roll in. On a good day they can reach twenty or thirty metres. For a few more things to do if you’re down that way check out the Vuna Blowholes website.
9. Visit the Dateline
Well, it’s not really the dateline, it’s the 180 degree meridian which runs through the island. The actual dateline dog-legs around Fiji to avoid part of the population being in tomorrow with the rest in today. But if you want a quick photo-stop on your travels around the island then this is an easy one to do whilst passing.
10. Take a Real Estate Tour
When I first visited Taveuni I fell in love with the island, and many other visitors do too. Visiting a place once as a tourist is a little different from living in that place full time – however, if you fall in love as I did there are a number of beautiful homes and (relatively) cheap land packages to tempt another potential expat, part time resident or full time island dweller. I would always recommend spending a little more time here first though before taking the plunge – you may need to come back again anyway to tick everything off this list !!
[Update: Since I have relocated to another property on Taveuni my previous home and a vacant freehold lot are now for sale]
Well, that’s it. This is just my personal top ten and there are plenty of other things worth doing here. You could visit my friend Colin for starters, he has nice coffee and usually serves biscuits too !!
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