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 F$25 per person per night and bures start at F$150 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.
Other Taveuni Accommodations:
Lavena Lodge, near the waterfalls, offers some very cheap, basic bures in the village for those that want to stay overnight.
One of best values on the island is Makaira, which is perched on a cliff with a spectacular 180 degree ocean view overlooking the Somosomo Straits. There’s a white sand beach, a two minute walk down the hill. Inshore snorkeling is phenomenal due to a reef restoration initiated by the owners and guests.
The property is located in Matei, a 15-minute walk from the airport just opposite the Tramonto Restaurant (heading towards Waiyevo). Run by Roberta Davis and John Llanes (both Hawaii natives) it’s situated on four acres of former coconut plantation.
One of the best things about the property is that the staff and management will go out of their way to make your holiday a special occasion. Several years ago my friend Shirley Daniel (from Hawaii) composed this video which illustrates my point–Christmas at Makaira.
There are three well appointed private accommodations. The Marlin and the Villa are single bedrooms with king sized beds. The third accommodation (the Grander) is configured as a two bedroom, two bath, ideal for up to 4 people.
All units include phone, spacious bathroom, kitchenette and an indoor (as well as) outdoor shower.
The Marlin is priced at US$182 per night. The Grander and the Villa are both priced at $US250. A 10% discounted rate is applied to 7 days or more for all accommodations. (All prices exclude tax).
Restoring the Reef
One of the things that separates this property from any other on Taveuni is the dedication of the owners, Roberta Davis and her husband, John Llanes, to the restoration of the reef located just offshore. This became particularly important after 2016, when Cyclone Winston delivered a powerful blow to Taveuni’s terrestrial and underwater life. The Cat 5 storm destroyed a large portion of the reef and Roberta responded by organizing coral reef gardening. She engaged her guests as well as locals who understand how much their livelihoods depended on a healthy reef system. The result of all her work has meant that the reef and the sea creatures who depend upon it have rebounded in just three years. Makaira continues this practice and many guests come away with the satisfaction of having contributed to the greater good.
The Makaira staff offers a variety of services including restaurant, massage and laundry. These individual services are provided by staff members as entrepreneurial ventures. Fees are paid directly to the staff, independent of the resort.
An on-site restaurant, Rosie’s Sea View, operated by a local concessionaire is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (See full description below).
The units are fully self contained with kitchenettes complete with basic utensils.
Makaira operates sports fishing and snorkel charters. (The Sea Afare is a 33′ custom built boat is designed for every type of angling technique). The boat’s captain, John Llanes, has over four decades of international fishing experience. Two fishing kayaks are available for rental. (More fishing details in Taveuni Activities page).
A experienced massage therapist is available
- 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.
- 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.
Rosie’s Sea View Restaurant
Rosie’s Sea View Restaurant, located on the hotel property, is Makaira’s ‘in-house’ eatery and is also open to the public (see description at the bottom of the page). The chef Isoa Mara, has worked at one of Fiji’s finest hotels (Kaimbu) and has an eclectic repertoire. He’s also an adherent of ‘Farm to Table’ cuisine which fuses traditional Fijian produce and ingredients with modern cooking.
The tiny restaurant has a marvelous view of the Taveuni coastline and an intimate setting.
The restaurant is run as a concession by Isoa and Rosie, a local couple. Isoa has great creds, having worked at the ultra posh Kaimbu Resort for 6 years as a chef. His culinary instincts are spot on. Rosie is also an experienced cook having worked at nearby Coconut Grove cafe.
A full 3 course dinner is around $F50 per person.
For dinner you’ll need a reservation by 2 pm even if you’re staying on the property. Call 738-1273 or 985 9132.
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 reminiscent of the 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 a private beach.
The Horizon Spa Villa has three bed rooms and three bathrooms. Two of the bedrooms are in the main Villa and the third bedroom is in a detached, air conditioned bure a few steps away. The Villa has two bath rooms both sporting outdoor showers. One of the outdoor showers has a bath. 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. The demographics of visitors include empty nesters and some honeymooners. Many of the guests tend to be North Americans.
Matangi has a total of twelve 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. 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. There’s also a spa, with an over-the-water deck, that provides great vistas.
Matangi’s meals regularly feature fresh fish and other seafood, locally grown fresh vegetables and fruit and, freshly baked bread. The Douglas family have been early supporters of Fiji’s farm to table movement and are able to grow most of their own vegetables to feed guests.
A large selection of Australian and New Zealand wines and champagnes are available.
Diving in the area is superb, as is snorkeling. Other aquatic activities include sailing. 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 from US$750 + 25% tax per night and range to US$990 + 25% tax per night per couple including all meals. (These rates are valid for the new 01 April 2020 – 31 March 2021 season). Stay 5/Pay 4 and
Stay 7/Pay 5 Specials apply all year round.
Bringing back the vasua, Fiji’s giant clam
Matangi’s owner, Noel Douglas is both an entrepreneur and a steward of the marine ecosystem. With this in mind he has partnered with Civas Pearl founder, Claude Prevost, to grow two species of giant clams or vasua as they are known in Fijian. Vasua, which are native to Fiji waters, have been over harvested in the wild and have become endangered. Few people have successfully been able to breed the clams so in a sense, it’s an experiment with no certain outcome.
Nonetheless, Douglas and his partner are adamant about the project which could potentially re-introduce the endangered specie and bring them back from the brink. It would take a tremendous about of resources to raise and then reintroduce the clams but they have come up with ingenious way to raise funds. Of the two species they are attempting to raise, one is the giant clam and the other, a smaller version that is coveted by aquarium hobbyists.
Douglas would raise money by selling the smaller clams and using the profits to stock the reefs with the traditional, large vasua. Douglas and Prevost believe this would be a win-win for everyone, particularly Fiji’s inhabitants, who depend on the marine ecosystem for their livelihoods. They are awaiting final approval from the government for permission to export.
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
Rosie’s Sea View Restaurant
Rosie’s Sea View Restaurant is an intimate eatery perched on a hillside with a splendid, 180 degree ocean view of the Taveuni coastline. Located five minutes by auto from the Matei Air Strip if you have a an auto take the road that says Makaira. It’s located on the hotel’s property. If you walking, you’ll see a sign on the mountain side of the road that says ‘restaurant’. Just take the path, only a few steps up the hill.
The 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. (They have had great reviews in TripAdvisor).
The menu, depending on availability, is always fresh and can include lobster, filet mignon, fish (such as mahi mahi and yellow fin tuna), Kokoda (fish marinated in lemon juice and served with coconut crème), Indian curries, and the like. Isoa also can do vegan and vegetarian dishes such as stir and hummus. It’s also open for breakfast and lunch. For dinner you’ll need a reservation by 2 pm.Reservations must be made by 2 pm. Call 738-1273 or 985 9132.
Perched above the sea, on the roadside, is Tramonto Restaurant. A 15-20 minute walk from the airport, towards Makaira Resort, it’s a local style eatery that serves alcohol. It’s a good place to meet locals. It’s subdued in the daytime (they serve lunch) but in the evenings it’s more of a bar or pub type environment where locals go to imbibe and perhaps watch a rugby game on television.
They serve pizza, fish and chips, and local dishes.
Vistas from their deck is outstanding. Food and service can vary.