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Vanua Levu Activities & Attractions

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What to do in and around Savusavu

There are a host of things to do in the Savusavu area. Consider renting a car and exploring the Hibiscus Highway, which is stunning. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can negotiate a taxi for a half-day’s exploratory tour for F$80 or thereabouts. Trek, dive, sail or windsurf. (Windsurfers should note that the nearby lagoon has some of the best sailboarding conditions in the world but you’ll have to bring your own gear. It’s almost impossible to hire a windsurfer.)

Wellness Classes at Daku Resort - Savusavu
If “Wellness” is on your itinerary, check out the yoga classes at Daku

Grab a beer at the Planters Club, a classic South Seas haunt, and catch up on the local gossip. You’ll probably hear more than you bargained for. Have a cup of coffee or a scone at the Captain’s Cafe at the Copra Shed Marina and take in the view of incredible Savusavu Bay.

The Copra Shed was formerly just that, a warehouse for copra before its shipment to processing plants. The structure was gutted, completely rebuilt and now is home to various offices including:

  • Foreign Currency Exchange
  • The Captains Café
  • Fiji Airways
  • Fiji Homes & Properties
  • One Hundred Sands
  • Trip N Tour
  • Tradewinds Marine Yachtshop
  • The Art Gallery
  • Takos Handicraft
  • The Captains Table (Wine & Dine)
  • Kohli & Singh Solicitors
  • Nawi Island
  • Pacau Fiji
  • Savusavu Yacht Club

Shopping In Savusavu:

Black pearls (which are raised in the waters of Savusavu Bay) can be purchased in town at the J. Hunter Pearls Fiji showroom on the main drag just a few meters from the entrance of the Hot Springs hotel. Prices for inexpensive pearls start at $20 and range from $400 to $4000 for top grade. If you’re in the market for black pearl ‘set jewelry’ you’ll spend anywhere from $100 to $10,000.

There’s a new silver jewellery shop called Totoka in the Waterfront Building at the end of town (airport end) with a range of charming sea-life inspired designs from a South African jeweller who has moved to Savusavu. And behind the bus stand, Natalie sells some simple but appealing voivoi (pandanus leaf) items like bird mobiles and baskets. The handicraft section of the market is also well worth browsing round for simple beads, masi mats, wooden products and baskets.

Custom opal piece from Totoka Jewelery
Custom opal piece from Totoka Jewelery

Other very local products to consider purchasing are woven goods such as large mats (‘ibe‘ in Fijian), table mats or even purses derived from kuta, a locally grown reed indigenous to Vanua Levu. Kuta can be woven finer than more ordinary fiber such as pandanus and has a more lustrous sheen. You can pick up kuta products at Taka’s Gift Shop over at the Copra Shed Marina.

Aerial View of the Copra Shed
The Copra Shed has first rate facilities

Marina Facilities

The Copra Shed Marina has 8 stern to wharf berths for vessels up to 20 metres. Water and electricity are available at the marina berths. Seventeen moorings are available for vessels of varying sizes. Water and fuel (diesel and pre-mix) are available at our designated fuel dock. Services for yachts within the complex include hot showers, toilets, laundry, Internet office, telephone, waste oil and garbage disposal. Repair and maintenance services such as sail repair, refrigeration and electrical works can be arrange upon request. The Copra Shed Marina also houses the Captain’s Cafe restaurant, Captains Table, Savusavu Yacht Club, a marine chandler, art gallery, handicrafts shop and booking offices for both international and domestic air travel. Phone  +679 885 0457

The Savusavu Marina is part of an evolving complex known as Savusavu Marina Village. When completed it will accommodate up to 79 boats, the maximum length will be 40 metres, and the berths will have good support for yachts with electrical outlets, sewerage pump out and fresh water supply. Due to its isolation, there has been a paucity of adequate facilities for visiting yachts. The Marina will address this by providing welcome services such as a Laundromat, shower booths and sailor’s lock ups. The Sailor’s lock up will have enough storage space to contain a dinghy with sleeping quarters and toilet facilities. Plans also include building a clubhouse, incorporating a café, bar and a swimming pool.

J Hunter Pearl Farm
Take a J Hunter Pearl Farm Tour while in Savusavu. (Courtesy J Hunter Pearls)

Adventures in and outside of town

  • Visit the local villages where the traditions of the meke dance are kept vibrantly alive, and you will be swept into the exuberant rhythms of the Cakaudrove ways. (Book through your resort).
  • A trip to Natewa bay, either through your resort or by finding a local guide in the nearby villages,  will get you up close with the local pod of dolphins.  Spinner and bottle-nose are both common.  In the unlikely event that you are unable to find them, the bay still offers great diving and snorkelling spots to make the trip worthwhile.
  • Take a trip to the Tunaloa peninsula to see the rare silktail, a small bird found only in this area and certain parts of Taveuni. Whilst there, you may see the Orange dove, which is more widely distributed and a spectacular sight.
  • If you can manage a full day trip, drive to the village of Dakuniba on the far eastern coast to see the massive fallen obelisks and hear the legend of how the first people to come to Fiji brought them with them.
Flora Tropica Gardens
The Flora Tropica Gardens will give you a look at indigenous plant life (Flora Tropica Gardens)
  • Wander round the Flora Tropica Botanical Gardens which boasts the South Pacific’s largest collections of palm trees, plus many other wonderful plants.  (It’s located 5 km outside of town, on Lesiaceva Point Road, heading towards the Cousteau property).
  • J Hunter, which sells pearls, has a tour for F$25. The tour begins in their showroom with a presentation and from there, guests are taken out to the undersea farm in a glass-bottomed boat to view the pearl oyster culture. Snorkelling over the farm is an option, however, guests must bring their own gear. On this 40 minute cruise, you will see pearl oysters at different stages of growth, suspended on 200 metre long lines that run 3 – 5 metres below the ocean’s surface. The boat also comes alongside one of the cleaning platforms where you can observe farm workers cleaning and checking on the health of juvenile and adult oysters.Bookings can be made through your resort or at our Showroom (679 8850-821).
Thermal Pools
The Thermal Pools are a perfect antidote for 21st century stress–even in Fiji (Courtesy Savusavu Tourism Authority)
  • Drive out to Naweni village and see the sacred red prawns (Urubata) in a pool on a volcanic islet off the beach. Legend has it that they only come when called by the villagers.
  • Bathe in the therapeutic thermal mud pools that are found near Levuka Koro village, just a half hour drive from Savusavu.
  • The Vuadomo waterfall is also a must see. Most resorts go there and most taxi drivers will also take you.
  • Snorkeling and diving are excellent in the Savusavu area. Daku and other properties will take their clients out to the Namena Island Marine Reservation, which has been described as world class.

Labasa area

Labasa (pronounced Lam-bah-sah), is a bustling town and the largest on the island with a population of about 30,000. It is much larger than Savusavu and entirely different in nature with the inhabitants primarily IndoFijian consisting of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. The surrounding countryside, covered with cane and golden sun burnt hills also has volcanically sculpted black lava outcroppings in nearby Vunika.

Labasa is the industrial centre of Vanua Levu based on sugar production and during cane crushing season (between June and December) keep an eye out for trucks overloaded with cane heading for the only mill on the island.

Labasa Town
Labasa is the big, sprawling industrial center of Vanua Levu based on sugar production

What to do in Labasa

Labasa is a bustling business town, with well stocked supermarkets and a local market offering fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and spices located beside the river and having a Fijian handcraft centre upstairs. Shopping for Indian clothing such as saris or jewellery is first rate. Activities such as golf and tennis are available at the FSC (Fiji Sugar Corporation) Club. Tours are available to visit the working sugar mill.

There are several good places to eat in town including Gopal’s Hare Krishna vegetarian restaurant on the main street for homemade samosas and curries.

Naag Mandir is a greatly revered Hindu temple visited by devotees from around the world. Know as the “Snake Temple” it contains a large stone that is shaped like the head of a King Cobra. Legend has it that the stone, which is several meters high has been growing since 1969, when the temple was first constructed.

Korovatu Beach is a popular haunt outside of Labasa. You can check out the action below:

The Mission at Natuvu Creek

Near the Labasa area is the The Mission at Natuvu Creek on a recent trip to Fiji. Their modern building near the rickety dock at Buca Bay, a pretty remote spot itself, certainly looked a bit incongruous. I introduced myself to a couple of kai valagi (white folks) who were doing some construction work and introduced myself. I was told they were running the Mission at Natuvu Creek a medical mission associated with the Seventh Day Adventist Church which provides all kinds of services to local people—eye care, dental care, etc. When I showed up, there was an orthopedist and trauma surgeon in temporary residence. I got a tour of the very modern facilities that included dental chairs and a room stocked full of donated eye glasses. A crowd of locals was patiently waiting in line for a visit with the ophthalmologist and perhaps a new (or slightly used pair of specs).

Here’s some history, also from the web site: In 1998, Steve Arrington, former lead diver with the Cousteau Society and founder of the Fiji-based Dream Machine Foundation, asked California dentist, Marta Tooma, to lead a group of dental students from Loma Linda University on the Foundation’s first dental outreach program to Fiji. The accommodations were primitive and the equipment minimal, however, the need was so profound everyone felt compelled to return. While Fijians are surrounded by extraordinary natural beauty, they live with limited medical and dental care especially in outlying areas. In 2000, an 850 acre parcel of land at Buca Bay became available and was purchased by the Tooma Family Foundation. 100 acres were donated to the Dream Machine Foundation to allow for their future expansion with youth.

Development continues with ongoing medical outreaches expanding into an increasing numbers of specialties and the goal of beginning construction on a secondary school by the end of 2011. Since 1998 and that first dental outreach, thousands of patients have received free medical care by hundreds of volunteers. The org offer visiting docs and their families, accommodations and even recreational activities. It would seem to me a great way to spend a working vacation, and a wonderful opportunity for volunteer to introduce their children to Fiji. I was very impressed by the dedication of the volunteers I met—both vulagi (guests) and Fijians who worked at the mission.

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