About Taveuni Activities
Taveuni has gained legendary status amongest divers, hikers and bird watchers around the world. There are coral reefs, crystal clear waters, a rich diversity of flora and fauna and, the raw beauty of Bouma National Heritage Park. Below are a few of the Taveuni activities and attractions to consider…
Taveuni, known as Fiji’s Garden Island, is an elongated emerald enclave (42 kilometers long and averaging 11 kilometers wide). The third largest island in the Fiji archipelago, it is located just south of Vanua Levu (Fiji’s second largest island) across from the Somosomo Strait. Verdant, rugged and volcanic in origin, the highest point is 1241 meters at Mt. Uluigala. The island’s fertile volcanic soil provides a perfect medium for the abundant flora.
Copious rainfall has produced some spectacular waterfalls and the moisture, combined with the fecund earth, has created a thick carpet of vegetation. The dense, virgin rainforests are festooned with orchids and ferns. High in the center of the island is Lake Tagimaucia, famous for the indigenous red and white tagimaucia flower.
Flora and Fauna
Taveuni is noteworthy for the diversity of flora and fauna, particularly the island’s bird life. Perhaps the main reason for the variety of bird life is the absence of the mongoose, which was introduced on many of the other islands (particularly where cane was grown) to control the rat population. Taveuni’s relatively inaccessible mountains and abundant food supply also have made it a haven for many species once found throughout the group.
Bird watchers consider Taveuni among the best of the big islands. Bird fauna has been impacted less here and the big pigeons and parrots are easy to see. Among the birds on everyone’s wish the Azure Crowned Flycatcher.
Perhaps the most famous of all Taveuni’s birds is the fabled Orange Dove. The male of the species has green-speckled plumage that changes in season to flaming orange. No photographs exist of this pigeon and the paintings one sees in the bird texts leave you prepared for the brilliance of its plumage which is florescent orange.
Unlike the Orange Dove, which is hard to find, the Taveuni Parrot is ubiquitous. It’s squawk and guttural sounds can be heard throughout the island. They are a sight to behold with backs and wings an iridescent emerald green rimmed with sky blue. Sometimes they will gather in feeding flocks of several dozen or more to reach mango, guava or other fruit trees. You don’t have to go far to see this bird. I’ve seen them in the palm trees just a few meters from the air strip at Matei.
Des Voeux Peak
Access to Des Voeux Peak, a prime habitat for bird watching, is minutes from the Waiyevo area. You can either walk or take a 4-wheel drive vehicle nearly to the top of the 1195 meter peak, which is the second highest on the island. Likewise, Qeleni, on the northern end of the island also affords excellent bird watching. To get there one must take a 4-wheel drive vehicle about five kilometers up a mountain road. Both locales offer the chance to see Orange Breasted Doves, Silktails, Ferntails and Parrots. The road up to the peak also passes through the territory of the Collard Lory, Vanikoro Broadbill, Black-naped Tern, Wattled Honeyeater, and Fiji Goshawk (Falcon.)
Years before Europeans arrived, Taveuni was famous for its Kula—a species of parrot also endemic to the area. In ancient times trading parties of Tongans would journey to Fiji to barter is also one of only two islands in the north of Fiji (the other is Cicia) where the Australian magpie was introduced to control coconut pests. Now a conspicuous part of the avian life, it is admired for its curiously melodic song. In addition to several varieties of dove, there is also a species of Goshawk, with a salmon pink breast, and the Vanikoro Broadbill that has a gunmetal blue head, dark blue wings and orange breast.
Is one the most famous geographical landmark in Taveuni and home to the The indigenous tagimaucia flower. Situated in an extinct volcanic crater, at a height of 832 meters, the lake is filled with floating masses of vegetation. It is also home to the indigenous tangimaucia flower which produces red blooms with white centers. The lake is reachable on foot but the hike is an arduous all day affair.
Taveuni is also home to several species of reptiles such as the Pacific Boa, which is still fairly common in the rainforest but is not generally seen by the visitor. The largely unexplored forest and mountains also harbor several known species of palms and other plants not found elsewhere on earth.
Taveuni’s magnificent natural rainforest is not only attractive to eco-tourists and naturalists. Sadly, only a few years ago, the island’s trees were being cut down by an Asian logging company. This activity, which was approved by the highest levels of government, raised the ire of local environmentalists and dive operators who feared that without proper ground cover the soil will be washed into the lagoon thus ruining the delicate ecology of the reef system. Fortunately the again.
Tavoro Falls and Lavena area, Nature Reserves Both these areas are nature reserves protected from logging and development of any manner. Bouma is located in Tavoro National Park about one hour’s drive north of the hotel. The taxi will take you to a point just past the village of Bouma from which the falls are only a ten minute walk. Along some of the steeper grades there are step-like wooden levels with hand rails. Occasionally you must ford a creek but there is a rope to help navigate the rocks. There is an admission fee to the park and you’ll need to hire a taxi. Your taxi can take up to five people so the trip can be quite reasonable if you have group.
Lavena Village & Ravilevu Nature Reserve Excursion
This trip can be done in combination with Bouma Falls or separately. Past the falls turnoff you travel another 20 minutes along the road which brings you to one of the most picturesque villages on the island. This is the best beach on the island and is excellent for snorkeling. There is a five kilometer path that leads through the village vegetable gardens and along the pristine coastline. There are Fijian crafts for sale at the reception bure. (There is also an admission fee to the park.) Scott Putnam a frequent traveler to Taveuni, says
Reports Putnam: At the Lavena Lodge, you’re given the option of boat ride (you get to see more of the Taveuni coast if you take this option and this option is the only one that will take you to the famous WWII waterfall), kayak (you only paddle to the attached waterfall) or hike (to the famous waterfall you’ve been to). The boat option costs $300 Fijian – a sum too large for all tourists prior to me (no kidding). The folks at Lavena were ecstatic over my trip ($$$ signs were shining in their eyes). They’d never had anyone from Matangi (or Qamea for that matter) make the trip or choose the boat option. After my trip, I talked other guests at Matangi into taking the trip, but they didn’t enjoy it as much as me. The boat trip is not protected by reefs and if you’re prone to sea sickness – it’s brutal. Combined with the rain and sea spray, any tourist that does this trip needs to be adventurous.
If you choose to walk along the shoreline at Lavena, the trail will turn inland where the confluence of two streams creates a wonderful swimming hole. My friend Shirley Daniel captured the scene perfectly in this GoPro video.
Civa Pearl Farm Tour
Claude Prevost and his partner Danielle are founders of Civa Fiji Pearls, one of only two pearl farm endeavors in Fiji. If you’re in Taveuni, this is a must-do activity. The actual boutique is a structure built on stilts, just offshore from Taveuni. The 90-minute tour includes a presentation and guided snorkeling in Wailoa Lagoon so that you can observe where the pearls are grown. The tour is an edifying experience, you’ll learn how Claude and company farm the pearls and harvest them.
You’ll also see, that unlike French Polynesia which specializes in black pearls, the Fiji variety come in various colors ranging from green, chocolate, red, gold and white.
Claude and Danielle began their pearl production in 2007 with a first harvest in 2010. Most of their current production is exported to Europe, with a small amount retained and available from partnering resorts in Fiji.
According to Claude one should think of cultivating pearls as you would any crop. As he says, “Pearl farming is farming. And it took me a while to understand that. Our farm is on the lagoon.”
It’s open Monday through Thursday from 2-4 pm. In order to visit his farm/boutique you’ll need to take a 20 minute or so taxi ride past the air strip and then a side road to the jetty. Then, a short boat ride a few hundred meters out to the ‘farm house’ on the water. You can contact Civa at +679 935 6168 and email@example.com.
Tour of Nabogiono Farm (aka Bobby’s Farm)
Bobby’s Farm, associated with Fiji’s National Trust, is located on the south end of Taveuni a few kilometers before Paradise Taveuni Resort (near Vuna Village). It’s 100 acres of integrated organic farmland mixed with native rain forest and an ocean environment. Naresh (Bobby) Shankaran is a one-man self taught naturalist, ethnobotanist, (Permaculture) farmer, bird watcher and social entrepreneur.
He is ready, willing and able to share his knowledge with visitors. The area was seriously impacted by Cyclone Winston a few years back and he’s in the throes of keeping the undergrowth from strangling the native flora which are trying to regenerate.
He also has a small, bare-bones accommodation for about six, which is suitable for backpackers. It’s self-contained (F$50 per person including breakfast) and Bobby will provide a meal plan as well. Reportedly he’s an excellent cook. Most resorts will provide a day tour for F$150 or F$200 (includes lunch).
Bobby is both knowledgeable entertaining but deadly serious about being a steward of the land. He will demonstrate how and why he does integrated farming and show you rare species of local flora in the rain forest. He regularly takes out groups of bird watchers as well. I can’t recommend this tour enough. You can reach him at +679 923 8612 and firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Gaiatree Sanctuary to the point where I’m thinking it’s too good to be true. Everyone I spoke to about it was nearly ecstatic. (When I was last in Taveuni the venue was closed).
Here’s the way they describe themselves:
Gaiatree Sanctuary is an organic spice plantation, day club & nectar lab that takes great pleasure in serving our tours high quality superfood infused meals.
Essentially, it’s a tour for “foodies”, the ultimate farm to table experience. You sample local produce and learn about Taveuni-grown fruits, herbs, and spices while visiting their organic farm. (There are 50 varieties of fruit trees, holistic herbs and ‘superfoods’ including cocoa, acai, vanilla, starfruit, peppercorns and turmeric).
After the guided garden tour you’ll be served herbal tonics, smoothies and refreshments. This is followed by a vegetarian meal. Here’s a sample menu:
- – crispy coconut & cassava croquettes with carrot top chimichirri, golden tomato & mint salsa.
– garden fresh greens, baby cucumbers & herbs tossed with house-made goddess dressing, toasted black sesame seeds & edible ﬂowers.
– smoked coconut, ceylon spinach, sundried tomato & rosemary frittata served with cassava chips & a spicy ginger mayo.
– steamed gaiatree oyster mushrooms wrapped with hand-ground peanuts, fresh thai basil, green papaya, garden greens in rice paper with homemade sweet chill sauce.
-ladyﬁnger banana & pineapple strudel with homemade vanilla ice cream drizzled in passion fruit butter.
– fresh papalo & black pepper sourdough crackers served with a cheese plate, mango pickles & spicy moringa fritters.
– gluten free jungle gnocchi with caramelized white eggplant, green beans, elderberry capers & tomato relish.
– grilled heart of palm with pickled green peppercorns and young ginger.
– massaged purple kale salad with gotu kola, sweet basil & molokahia sprinkled in coconut dust, preserved kumquat & fresh dill dressing.
– dairy free avocado & gaiatree chocolate mousse served with cinnamon vudi biscotti & starfruit glaze.
– superfood coconut feature with freshly made exotic acai sorbet, fresh fruit, cocoa nibs, crystalized ginger, toasted jungle almonds and passion ﬂowers
The Spice of Life Tour which is one of their more popular offerings, is available Thursday, Friday & Saturday for FJD$150. Online Reservations are required – gaiatreesanctuary.com
History of Nature Reserves
The development of two successful national park-like entities, which serve as nature reserves, in the Bouma Falls and Lavena Beach areas have demonstrated that logging is not the only way to earn hard currency for cash-poor villages. The inhabitants of Bouma Village, where a waterfall has been a major tourist attraction for many years, were also offered money to log their communal land. Instead of selling their birthright, at the behest of the New Zealand Government, they were offered a F$60,000 grant to improve the land and create a park centered around the waterfall. They weighed their options and came down on the side of conservation, rather than the lure of easy money from logging. With the funds, Bouma villagers have improved access to the Falls, constructed trails, BBQ pits, benches and picnic spots. When you visit and pay your F$36 admission, think of it as a contribution to the village. A similar project has occurred at the picnic reserve.
Site of International Dateline
The 180th Meridian is about one kilometer south of the Garden Island Resort. Take a right from the entrance of the hotel and go up the road toward the hospital watching for a monument on your right. This was where the international dateline once passed. The dateline was later changed so as not to bisect Taveuni. A five minute walk or less from the dateline is the Meridian Theater which was the subject of a documentary film (Reel Paradise).
The Wairiki Mission, only 20 minutes walk south of the hotel, is the most architecturally interesting edifice on the island. Situated on the edge of a splendid coconut plantation, it is also known at The Taveuni Catholic mission. It’s a good example of British colonial Romanesque architecture. Located on a hill, it overlooks the historic site where Taveuni warriors turned back thousands of invading Tongans in a battle that was fought in canoes just off the beach. It was this particular battle that turned the tide in a war that had seen the Tongan stake over much of Fiji. The locals celebrated by cooking their enemies and eating them with breadfruit. Modern day visitors are invited to attend Mass on Sundays from 7 am to 9 am. Definitely check it out, the singing is wonderful. (Note that there are no pews or seats so be prepared to sit on the floor.)
Vuna Village, Blow Hole, Vatuwiri Estate and Navakawau
Vuna, a village near the southernmost end of the island, played an important role in the early European settlement of the Island. The original plantations and homes of the early planters were purchased from Tui Vuna (the local chief) and at least one of the homes, Vatuwiri Farm, is within spitting distance of the village. (The Vatuwiri Estate is still owned by the Tarte family, who are descendants of the original settlers. On the property are the ruins of an old Fijian village and one can hike to an extinct volcanic crater). At the road’s terminus you reach Navakawau Village which translates as `end of the road’. En route you will pass a blow hole where the sea has eroded a passage at the edge of the shoreline. A stop at Vatuwiri Farm costs extra but highly recommended.
Kayaks are available from Taveuni Ocean Sports (at Nakia Resort and Dive) which also has surf boards. The kayaks are easy to maneuver and one need not be a tri-athlete to use them. However, it helps to be in good physical condition.
Golf & Tennis at Soqulu
A 15 minute drive south of the hotel is subdivision known as Soqulu Plantation or simply `Soqulu’ (pronounced Song-goo-loo). In addition to a number of homes, 30 condos and a club house, there is a 9-hole golf course, two tennis courts (one asphalt and one grass) and a lawn bowls green. All of the outdoor facilities are open to the public but the club house and condos, have been shut down. The links are situated on a gorgeous coastal strip of land. Unfortunately the condition of the course is less than magnificent but nonetheless it’s fun to play.
Waitavala Waterslide (photo courtesy SV Fluenta blog)
This water slide is a 20 minute walk north of the Garden Island Resort. It’s a picturesque spot and quite popular with the local kids. It’s secluded, verdant and filled with the laughter of children. (Photo Above)
Warrior Burial Cave
Created by a lava tube, this cave is about 350 meters long and terminates at the ocean edge. In former times it was used by Fijians as a secret burial cave for warriors. It is believed that Taveuni’s greatest warriors were buried here in order to keep their remains hidden from enemies. Most of the large bones were removed in the 1950s after the cave was found. Guides will proudly show you the biers where their ancestors were laid to rest. As one would expect the cave is dark and damp. Be sure and bring your hiking shoes. The entire trip, which includes a short visit to Soqulu Plantation, can be arranged from the Garden Island Resort. Take your flashlight.
Taveuni is an angler’s delight. The rich blue waters of the Somosomo Straits is over 1200 fathoms deep and teams with nutrients. Fishing is amazing. I went on a four hour cruise recently and our boat came back with around 8 skip jack tuna. The skipper was almost apologetic that we didn’t get a big yellow fin or Mahi-mahi.
Depending on your preference and with some seasonal variability, you can fish for Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi-mahi, and Yellow fin Tuna. For the reef fisherman who enjoys casting there is Giant Trevally, Blue Fin Trevally, Barracuda, Walu, and Dogtooth Tuna as well as some other Brand X’s.If your serious about fishing, John Llanes Jr, formerly of the Big Island of Hawaii will take you out to his private fishing grounds. (Private, because he’s the only sports fisherman on the island).
Boat and Equipment
The Sea Afare was built by Islander Boats (in Suva) in October 2019. She is a purpose built boat designed specifically for Fijian waters and all types of anglers and techniques to pursue the large selection of sport fishing species in our surrounding waters. She is 33 ft LOA with large platforms aft and fore. Accommodates up to 6 anglers for big game trolling and comfortably 4 for light tackle and casting anglers and up to 10 passengers.
Engine, Electronics, and Safety
Twin 2019 250 hp 4 stroke Yamahas. Electronics include GPS, VHS, Depth recorder and Fish Finder. She meets all international safety regulations with EPRIB, life jackets, flare guns, and standard safety equipment. .
It’s outfitted with a Reelax Fighting Chair to accommodate big game fishermen that is removable for a flush deck for those anglers that prefer a large aft casting platform for popping, light tackle or fly fishing. There’s a large casting platform on the fore deck with built in insulated fish boxes that double for ample seating complete with a roll up Bimini top for shade. Enclosed cabin includes v-berth and electric toilet. Swim step with built in retractable ladder fresh water and salt water wash down.
1-130 Shimano, 4- 50’s Penns 1-50 Shimano 1- 80 Shimano and 2-80 Penns, 1 casting rod, bucket Seat for fighting chair, stand up fighting belt, flying and stick gaffs, Outriggers and18 Rod holders. (For Popping, Jigging, Fly Fishing and Blue Water Hunters bring your own fishing outfits). John strongly supports the live release of non-record GT’s, Billfish and all species of Sharks. For GT anglers bring only single hooks are used, no treble or double hooks because they inflict needless injuries on the GT’s upon release. John has released over 4,000 GT’s over the years.
Within the day range, anglers can expect to find all types of pelagic and reef fish as the topography is varied with ribbon reefs, pinnacles, islands, channels, outer reefs, straits, drop offs and sandy flats.
The Captain: John Llanes is a 3rd generation fisherman who started fishing over 40 years ago. He has fished commercially and professionally and has held his 100 ton Master license for over 30 years. During his Hawaiian career he has won or placed in at least 50 tournaments. He has studied and fished the Fijian waters for 15 years. He is an all- around fisherman for Big Game, light tackle, reef and bottom fishing.
This rounded experience has given him the opportunity to professionally fish internationally including Australia, Midway, Fiji and his Hawaiian home grounds of Kona. He has been featured on televised fishing shows including ESPN as well as fishing books and magazines with the topics ranging from tournament wins, techniques for catching Giant Trevally’s, Marlin, Tuna, Mahi-mahi, Wahoo and deep sea rigging for various Big Game fish and lure making. All of that aside, the bottom line with Capt. John. is fishing is his passion and he is a great choice for the serious fisherman to enjoy a fun day of fishing.
** IF Anglers want to range to further grounds in excess of 40 miles a 50.00 fuel surcharge will be added to the rates below
Half Day Charter (4 hours) US$710.00USD
Three Quarter day (6 hours) US$990.00
Full Day Charter (8 hours) US$1,320.00
Rates not including Govt. taxes of 9%
You can contact John by visiting Makaira, his resort.
Vinaka to Paddy Ryan of Ryan Photographic for allowing us to use his photos. (This includes Fruit bat at top of page).