Taveuni’s relatively mild tropical weather is cooler and wetter than the more western parts of Fiji. The average temperature varies by only a degree or two throughout the year with average maximum temperatures lying between 27-30°C and average minimum between 22-24°C. There are two seasons – wet, and dry. Taveuni is subject to Cyclone activity, and most recently suffered the devastating effects of Cyclone Winston, one of the most powerful cyclones to ever hit the southern hemisphere.
The prevailing trade winds hit the eastern side of Taveuni rising up against the mountainous ridge that runs much of the length of the island. On this windward side the highlands can experience annual rainfalls of between 4500-6000mm, and rainfalls in excess of 10,000mm have been recorded in a single year. The leeward side rainfall levels usually range around 2500mm a year, varying considerably up and down the island with many localised microclimates.
Unlike regions outside the tropics, Taveuni and Fiji as a whole do not experience a year of four seasons. There are just two – the wet season, and the dry season. The wet season, coinciding with cyclone season, runs from November through April, the drier season May through October. In any given year a wet season or dry season may be extended or shortened depending on the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) affecting much of the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Most recently during 2014/2015 water carting operations have been required to relieve areas affected by drier than usual dry seasons.
The abundant rainfall contributes hugely to Taveuni’s reputation as “The Garden Island of Fiji”. Tropical rains and sun coupled with fertile well draining volcanic soils encourage plant life to grow quickly and profusely creating a diverse and verdant landscape filled with rainforest, farms and plantations.
Tropical regions do not experience large temperature fluctuations. Fijians and acclimatised expats alike will notice temperatures outside this narrow “normal” range – anything below 20 degrees centigrade feeling decidedly chilly, and temperatures above 33 degrees centigrade becoming uncomfortably hot, especially when combined with high humidity. Temperatures are generally cooled by sea breezes during the day and, depending on your location, land breezes at night as the cooler air sinks down mountain sides.
For the divers and water enthusiasts, average temperatures lie between 23°C- 28°C year round being at the upper end of that range during the wet season and lower during the dry months.
Many places around the world are much hotter than Taveuni despite it being a tropical island. Even my home country, the UK, regularly has summer days hotter than some we have here. When it comes to the “feels like” factor, the humidity can greatly increase the apparent temperature. Humidity is highest during the wet season November through April, although relative humidity is pretty stable around 80% throughout the year.
|Month||Average Max °C||Average Min °C||Relative Humidity||Rainfall (mm)|
The dry season sees more sunshine, although the days are shorter. During the wet season, when the sun is shining, the UV levels are at their highest. There are days when the “burn time” for unprotected Caucasian skin is as low as 6 minutes. Sunburn for the unwary and unprepared also occurs on overcast days – do not be fooled by the cloud cover. Limit your sun-soaking time to mornings and afternoons, wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen and avoid confinement to a room during an unpleasant few days recovery from sunburn.
Planning to Visit?
For those planning to visit, January and February generally have the potentially uncomfortable mix of highest temperatures and highest humidity. These conditions are also perfect for mosquitos. And don’t forget it’s cyclone season too. So, if you are not used to tropical climates or plan on sunning yourself by the pool in relative comfort a better time to visit is May through September. For diving, hiking, surfing, rafting, kayaking, fishing, visiting waterfalls and experiencing creeks in full flow then the wet season is as good a time as any. Unsurprisingly peak season (from a tourism perspective) coincides with the dry season
For general day-to-day local forecasts I use World Weather Online. This is usually good for 2-3 days out, after that expect forecasts to change significantly as the days approach.
For a wider appreciation of the regional and world weather, and for tracking severe weather that may be on the way, I use Earth. This site provided a good forecast track for Tropical Cyclone Winston.
The Fiji Met Office also provides forecasts and severe weather warnings for the region, but their forecast track for Tropical Cyclone Winston left a little to be desired !!