Dolphin Bay Retreat
Dolphin Bay Retreat is a backpacker/scuba diving operation located on Viani Bay, a remote 30 minute boat ride from Taveuni. The DB Retreat is on a private island that I used to visit before it was developed. It’s exquisite. Accommodations consist of four private bures and three safari tents. The bures are built from bamboo and hard wood–local materials. They each have double or queen size spring mattress beds and, are fitted with mosquito nets. A table and chairs are on the patio and, lounge chairs front the bure.
Each single tent has a single bed with mattress, locker box, solar lamp and small patio area. There are mosquito screens on all sides of the tents. Each double tent has a large area with standing – room space, a double bed with inner spring mattress, mosquito screens, lock box and patio area. ‘Jungle Tents’ share bathrooms and showers. Water comes from rainfall, so amidst a drought you may have to do with bucket showers.
All accommodation is ocean front, only a few meters from the beach. Snorkeling and diving are great—you’re only a few minutes from the Rainbow Reef, one of the premier dive sites in Fiji. Tents start at $25 per person per night and bures run $180 per night. Meal plans ($115 per night) are separate.
Bibi’s Hideaway which has been a Taveuni backpacker haunt for years. It’s gone upmarket a bit with new bures that are several cuts above the funky and, is under new management. Located on expansive grounds (near a beach) it is loaded with fruit trees of every description that are offered to guests free of charge. Daily rates begin at F$50 for home stay to F$150 for a bare bones family home with two bedrooms and kitchen. The newest bure at F$130 and sleeps two. Property is located a ten minute walk from the airstrip in Matei. Phone is 888 0443.
Another backpacker haven is Tovutovu, located near Naselesele Village, a few hundred meters past Bhulabhai Store. The owner, Alan Patterson, has five bures (two which are self-contained) ranging in price from $75 – $125 and boasts 24 hour power-which is almost under heard of in Taveuni airport area. On the premises is a dive shop run by Tyron Valentine, a local dive master with an excellent pedigree.
Other Taveuni Accommodations:
Lavena Lodge, near the waterfalls, offers some very cheap, basic bures in the village for those that want to stay overnight.
In the same price range consider, Makaira, perched on a cliff overlooking the Somosomo Straights. It’s located a 15-minute walk from the airport just opposite the Tramonto Restaurant on heading towards Waiyevo. Run by Roberta Davis and John Llanes (both Hawaii natives) it’s situated on four acres of former coconut plantation. There’s a white sand beach just a two minute walk down the hill with incredible snorkeling offshore.
There are three well appointed bures which include phone, spacious bathroom, single bedroom, kitchenette and an indoor (as well as) outdoor shower. The 180 degree ocean view is spectacular. The discounted rates of 7 days or more for the Villa and the Grander is US$225 a night, excluding tax. The Grander has been extended and is now a 2 bedroom and 2 bath configuration, ideal for up to 4 people. Although the Villa can fit up to 4 it is perfect as a very romantic accommodation for a couple.
The smaller Marlin Cottage goes for US$162 with the 7-day discount.
Their newest addition is the Ocean View Villa, a split level design that can accommodate 4 singles or a couple and two singles. (Prices reflect seven day discounted stay).
The units are fully self contained with outdoor kitchenettes. John and Roberta will serve meals upon request at their new Galley Cafe (which has a wonderful seascape.) and supplement meals from their own organic garden. They have their own boat and offer fishing, snorkeling and kayak charters. Roberta’s partner John Llanes, runs the fishing boat and will make sure you come home with a catch.
- Complimentary breakfast
- Free Wifi
- Free airport transfers
- Private dipping pools off the deck of all 3 of our accommodations
- Private phone in each accommodation with free local calls
- Flat screen TV and DVD player with hundreds of free movies on USB to enjoy for a change of pace .
- Refrigerator and double gas burner
- Premium King size Beds Or a king and 2 singles for the Grander
- Request a kava evening for a fun time with the Makaira family
- Gorgeous white beach below us that stretches for a third of a km with amazing snorkeling
- Free snorkel lessons
- Free use of snorkel gear and beach towels
- Free introductory snorkel tour of the area out front or anytime you want to have a guide out front
- Free lessons in coral gardening-create your own little reef or help us hunt crown of thorns.
- Free glass bottom kayak and additional 2 person kayak
- Dipping pool for those time you don’t want to stray from makaira to the beach and to just nap, or read and enjoy the massive ocean views.
- Cabana bure on the point with a large lounging bed, barbecue and picnic table for our guests enjoyment.
- All the coconuts you can eat, our fabulous staff will be happy to cut them open for you.
- Coconut Craft lessons-Learn how to make a coconut hat, basket or how to weave a coconut leaf for a roof in case you ever find yourself on the Survivor show.
Restaurant on the the property:
Shalei’s Ocean view Restaurant is run as a concession by a Fijian couple, Isoa and Rosie. Isoa worked at Kaimbu Resort for 6 years as a chef. His food is truly remarkable. Rosie worked at nearby Coconut Grove cafe for 12 years. The eatery is located at the left side bottom of the property and has stunning views. It’s the only place I’m aware of where you can get fine dining (open to the public).
A full 3 course dinner is around $F50 per person.
The menu, depending on availability, is always fresh and can include lobster, filet mignon, fish and the like. He also can do vegan and vegetarian dishes. Every Wednesday he does a different theme night such as Italian, Asian, Indian, Mexican, etc. It’s also open for breakfast and lunch (also by reservation). Reservations must be made by 2 pm. Call 738-1273 or 714-5283.
Recommended Up Market Accommodations
Taveuni Palms is an immaculately maintained 5-star property with great ocean views and only two villas, (the Beach Villa and Horizon Spa Villa) that are something out of the old TV show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. It’s something for honeymooners of a certain demographic and, there’s room enough bring your best friends. The Beach Villa has two bed rooms/two baths and a splendid outdoor shower and private swimming pool and the Horizon Spa Villa has three bed rooms/three bathrooms, two baths have outdoor shower and the additional bedroom has an indoor shower. It also features a private infinity edge swimming pool and a luxury spa pool.
Amenities include personal chef (who will gladly give you complimentary cooking lessons), personal boat, personal captain. Other amenities entail personal double kayak, stand up paddle board and snorkeling from your private beach. Dolphins swim past the villa’s each morning so make sure you keep a look out. When possible all food is derived from resort’s own garden, all organically grown. Management will send out a questionnaire prior to your visit get their food preferences and design a menu around that. Typical menu items would be lobster or coconut crab, blackened yellow fin tuna, taro chips, sashimi, create a four course meal. If you’ve got the means and really, really want to be left alone, I would consider this property. Price is $1,500.00 + tax per house per night for 2 persons.
(The photo of Taveuni Palm’s private beach is featured at the top of this page).
Taveuni Island Resort & Spa
Taveuni Island Resort & Spa, near Matei Airport, is a family run operation and remains one of the better boutique resorts in Fiji. The resort is situated on a bluff overlooking the sea and the vista is spectacular—one of the best on the island. It has 11 well appointed ocean view bungalows all of which have been expanded and undergone upgrading recently with extras such as new tile floors, king-sized beds, air conditioning/fans, private outdoor rock showers, and festive floral arrangements.
Several million dollars have been spent on the property and it shows. The food and presentation are excellent. Every meal I had ranged from damn good to superb. All the chefs (some whom are Fijian) and have been very well trained. Same goes for the staff, which is very attentive. The vast majority come from the local village.
The dinner I had there was poached fish with curry lolo (coconut) sauce with locally grown vegetables such as pumpkin, mashed kumala (local sweet potato) and Fijian spinach (tubua). Very simple but everything cooked to perfection and everything killer-fresh. That’s because they have their own 50 acre organic farm and grow all their herbs and vegetables right there. That includes dill, basil, eggs, papaya, avocado, salad greens, lettuce, hot chile, bok choy, tomato, beans, pumpkin, tomato, cilantro, basil, bell pepper, mint, spring onions, banana, lime, lemon mandarin and probably much more.
The cliff side horizon pool is one of the outstanding features at the resort. The small powder white beach is a short one-minute walk away from the steps of your bungalow. Activities include hiking, kayaking and diving. Prices begin at US $1050 per bure per night for the Luxury Ocean Villas and US$2,495.00 per night (per couple) for the Grand Matalau Villa (with its own staff and chef). Each category of villa has a separate package with different inclusions for each. Rates are inclusive of all meals, accommodation, transfers to and from Matei airport and 20% hotel tax.
The private white sand beach on the property is rare for a Taveuni resort. Snorkeling offshore is excellent and they have the requisite kayaks that you can take out. Diving of course is world class in the Somosomo Straights. Taveuni Ocean Sports handles the dive concession.
Paradise Taveuni is on the far (south-west) end of Taveuni-about an hour drive from the Taveuni Airport, near the village of Vuna.
Formerly a tumbled-down backpacker hangout called Susie’s, it’s been completely transformed into an unpretentious property with every amenity you could ask for and, excellent diving.
Ostensibly it’s a dive resort but I think it’s a great place if you just want to read a good novel and eat very good food. It’s run and operated by an Australian couple, Allan and Terri Gortan. The couple has managed resorts in Fiji for over a decade and it shows.
Allan is a trained chef and that clearly manifests itself. They have incorporated everything they’ve learned and created, I think one of the best little properties in Fiji. I say “little” because there are only 16 rooms.
All are elegantly appointed and air conditioned. Each accommodates 2 to 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children and they have family rooms with 2 bedrooms – perfect for larger families. They are luxurious without being over the top–each has indoor and outdoor showers, a king size bed in the private bedroom, and lounge room.
The resort has been recently redesigned due to extensive damage caused by TC Winston in Feb 2016, however you would not tell this, unless you heard the story yourself. Terri gives a weekly presentation about the cyclone and the community spirit that assisted in the rebuilding of Paradise back to it’s former glory.
The cuisine I sampled was very good. Paradise also has an organic farm and hydroponic garden on site and on the 10 acres nearby the Resort, owned by Paradise, they also have a Pig Farm and Chicken Farm. The Resort has supplies of fresh organic free range eggs each morning for your breakfast plate and is becoming self sufficient with most Menu items. Allan likes to use local ingredients and features Indian, Fijian and even Italian cuisine. Meals and airport transfers are included in the nightly room rate.
The reef just off-shore from Paradise Taveuni is great. Unlike other resorts in Fiji, the reef is immediately below the resort and it is at sufficient depth to allow snorkeling and diving at both low and high tide. Access is easy: just step down from a cement dock into 3 meter deep crystal-clear water. The highlights of the reef are clown-fish in anemones, blue ribbon eels, lionfish, montipora bommies, and a very friendly lunar wrasse.
A coral regeneration program is in progress as the house reef was damaged by the 2016 cyclone. Resort Guests – scuba divers and snorkelers – can assist in the re-growth of the reef even have the chance to name restored coral reefs after guests that sponsor the growth of the particular area.
Paradise owns and operates the Paradise Dive Shop and fleet of Dive Boats. They are a safe, family run operation that employs local Dive Professionals and captains who have grown up in these waters. Paradise Dive visits the Rainbow Reef everyday according to conditions and Guests requests. The Great White Wall, noted as one of the Top 10 dive sites in the world is best dived on a slack low tide from 7 am-1 pm to see the soft white coral wall. PADI Dive Courses are offered from beginner diver to Dive Master.
Matangi Private Island Resort
Matangi Private Island Resort situated on a horseshoe-shaped, 240 acre private island of the same name located 10 km off the north-east coast of Taveuni. It’s owned and operated by Noel Douglas whose family has been in Fiji for 5 generations. The property ranks as one of the finest mid range accommodations in Fiji. It’s essentially a honeymooner’s diving resort. It’s probably more expensive than the average diver would want to pay but you get what you pay for.
Matangi has a total of eleven Beachfront Bures including three Tree House Bures–all with splendid views across the Tasman Strait, facing the neighboring islands of Qamea and Taveuni. Most are constructed in a round Polynesian style. All are built from local materials such as hardwood, bamboo and coconut thatching and can withstand 160 km/h winds. The main building has an over-the-water deck which provides great vistas that are best appreciated at sunset with a cold Fiji Bitter in hand. They have constructed a large beautiful dining hall, in the Tongan “round lodge” style. Adjacent to this new edifice was built an infinity pool. The view from the pool’s edge looks out over the Tasman Strait.
Matangi’s meals regularly feature fresh fish and other seafood, locally grown fresh vegetables, tropical fruit and freshly baked bread. A large selection of Australian and New Zealand wines and champagnes are available.
Diving in the area is superb, as is light-tackle sport fishing. There is also deep-sea fishing from September to December, and saltwater fly fishing. Other activities include windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing and snorkeling. The island has nature trails, bush walks, caves, inlets and great bird-watching. This is a wonderful place to stay, especially for honeymooners who really want isolation.
The only caveat is that if you want to spend some time sightseeing on Taveuni (the nearest large island), you’ll have to take a 30 minute boat ride to get there. In other words, you’re isolated on Matangi but perhaps with the right company, that’s not a bad thing. Prices start at $610 US a night plus 17.5% tax double occupancy and tops out at $1,050 US a night double occupancy (depending upon the bure chosen).
Scott Putnam of Redding, California writes:
Qamea Resort and Spa (Located on Qamea)
Qamea Resort and Spa is a 15-minute boat ride from the Taveuni’s airstrip. It’s situated on a small cove fringed by a white sand beach (see below) a kilometer in length. The hotel is nestled at the jagged volcanic cliff which rises steeply behind the property. It can accommodate only a maximum of 34 guests (12 years of age and older) at one time so you’re not going to be overcrowded nor overrun with young children (as often occurs at other resorts.)
Bures and Villas
The seventeen (650 sq ft) Beachfront Bures have thatched roofs and with 20 foot ceilings and hand polished local mahogany hardwood floors.There’s also a 1,200 square foot honeymoon Villa. All structures are situated just a few steps from the water and all have verandas and face the beach.
The are also two Premium Villas, each over 1,600 square feet, including private swimming pools overlooking the beach. The attention to detail is very impressive. Bathrooms have imported European fittings, heated towel rack, hair dryer and outdoor river stone courtyard showers.
Among the more interesting amenities is a spring-fed swimming pool. There is also a large restaurant/ lounge bure with a verandah overlooking the which makes for very pleasant dining. The food I had was very, very good.
Diving is perhaps the biggest attraction and the resort has its own dive operation.
Qamea is a comparatively large island and has plenty of room for hiking. There are also organized visits to the local Fijian village of Vatusogosogo. Prices start at around US$750.00 double occupancy including continental breakfast.
Recommended Eateries on Taveuni
Perched above the sea, on the roadside, is Tramonto Restaurant. A 15-20 minute walk from the airport, towards Makaira Resort, it’s the best local place we’ve found. They serve pizza, fish and chips, and some local dishes. Vistas from their deck is outstanding. Food and service can vary.