Since Taveuni is a pretty small island then traveling from where we live in Soqulu to Matei at the north end of the island can seem like a Big Trip, one worthy of taking the passport just in case border security is on patrol at the 180 meridian. We speak of heading “all the way up to Matei”, a journey of about 30 minutes at speeds reminiscent of the local vicar out for a Sunday drive in the Cotswolds. If it’s a fun day out the excitement is palpable. If it’s an errand, it’s a downright drag. Whilst Australians might happily drive through half a dozen timezones for a burnt cow and a warm tinny with someone they are mildly acquainted with, on Taveuni we’ll think twice about traveling 2 kilometres to meet George Clooney or Taylor Swift even if we’d invited them and they miraculously turned up. Oprah Winfrey was in Laucala a few weeks ago – but that’s even further, and we didn’t invite her, so we stayed at home and watched MasterChef.

As it happens, the passports have been stamped twice in the last couple of weeks on Big Trips.

Vacala Bay

The weekend before last Titi, the kids and myself were invited up to Vacala Bay by George Clooney Paul Negro and his wife Helena to check out his recently completed Villa, have a few beers, and let the kids enjoy the pool. I think I’ve had about 5 previous invites, so it was good to finally make it having driven past numerous times during various phases of construction. Paul has owned the land since 1999, been in serious development mode for the last couple of years with this first Villa just completed.

If he isn’t busy enough with the villa/resort developments Paul also does sailing charters in his fancy boat, and runs a kite-surfing operation.

Consistent with much of Taveuni, get up the hillsides a few hundred feet and the views are pretty spectacular. From my abode I am content to watch the ferries sail up and down the Somosomo Strait, whereas Paul can keep an eye on his own boat from the Villa, and an eye on his Villa from the boat. As well as Paul’s boat, the Tui Tai was also anchored just off-shore, and with blue skies, blue seas and a welcome breeze it was all very relaxing – some chilled Fiji Bitter, tasty pizza’s, muffins and chocolate sauce helping things along.

The marathon trip and post muffin-and-chocolate-sauce sugar crash ensured the kids were suitably exhausted on arrival back in Soqulu. Below are a couple of my shots of the view, and a couple of Paul’s from his website (used with permission).

New Boutique Opening

Earlier this week I was on the road again when Taylor Swift Claude Prevost invited me up to the new boutique opening for Civa Fiji Pearls. My wife had to stay at home for this one out of fear she might create a personal budget deficit equivalent to national debt of Greece, much to Claude’s dismay. The boutique has been in the pipeline for a while and now up and running in Matei to catch the visitors from afar on their way in, out, and about the island. It was another beautiful day with more blue skies and blue seas which made for some decent photo’s of the shop front and it’s fantastic backdrop.

I’ve known Claude and Danielle almost since they first arrived in Fiji, and it’s been great to see how they have progressed with their dream over the years having starting from scratch to become Fiji’s second largest producer of export quality pearls. A lot of time, effort and cash has gone into making the pearl farm a success, and I’m guessing the boutique will follow suit.

So, a couple of fun and interesting Big Trips up north hobnobbing with local celebrities. Later this month it’s rumoured U2 will be turning up at Taveuni Dive Resort, after a personal invite by resort manager Jon Piepkorn. I might pop in for that – it’s only 3 minutes away.




  1. Bob Wilkins

    Yet another brilliant blog. What about writing for the Sunday Times!

    • Jonny Wilkins

      Vinaka Bob, thanks for reading !! I had a call from the Sunday Times – said they were considering some articles for the comics section 😉


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