About Taveuni Island, Fiji
Taveuni is a vast and luscious garden; it is literally a tropical flower garden on land and a coral garden beneath the sea. It is easy to get to, relatively small, and far from crowded. And because of all this, it is a favorite amongst travelers who love the outdoors. It lies about 7 kms off the south east coast of Vanua Levu and is 42 kms long and averages about 12 km wide.
Pristine rainforests cover much of the island and nearly all of this is protected by forest reserve and the Bouma National Heritage Park. Taveuni also has the most abundant array of birdlife in Fiji. This is due to the fact that the mongoose was never introduced to Taveuni (unlike the rest of the country). Consequently many birds that have disappeared on the main Islands still thrive here on Taveuni.
It's volcanic past is evident in its many black-sand beaches, but the beaches at Lavena and Matei have some golden sand and are good for swimming and snorkeling. At Coconut Grove Beachfront Cottages we are fortunate to be sitting on the only secluded, soft, golden sand beach on the island. In addition the nearby islands of Laucala, Matagi and Qamea have some great beaches as well.
The eastern side of Taveuni has dramatic waterfalls while the southern coast boasts caves and blowholes.
Indigenous Fijians make up most of Taveuni's population, with a few hundred Indo-Fijians and a growing number of expats, mainly North Americans. Taveuni is the chiefly island for the northern part of Fiji. The Tui Cakau (King of the Reef) is based in Somosomo. It is the third-highest chiefly title in Fiji, and more than one branch of a fractured family would like to claim it as their own.
There are no big towns on the island. Taveuni's main income is from agriculture, mostly copra and to a lesser extent dalo (taro plant) and kava crops. Many of Taveuni's resorts, restaurants and dive shops are located in Matei, within walking distance of the airport. The land here was once a single copra plantation, since subdivided and sold.
Taveuni was once home to fierce warriors; Taveuni locals still exude pride and confidence in their personalities and are known worldwide as the most friendly people in the islands of Fiji.
Taveuni has a population of about 12,000 inhabitants, and is sparsely populated. Virtually all of the local residents live in traditional Fijian villages. Once known for its coconut plantations, Taveuni’s attractions include world-class diving, hundreds of waterfalls and an array of indigenous flora and fauna.
When is the best time of year to visit Taveuni? If you are a diver, you will prefer the warmer, more temperate months of summer, Jan/April. If you prefer cooler, less humid weather, try May/October. But there really is no "busy season" on Taveuni, due to few resorts and even fewer flights.
How to Travel To Taveuni
Taveuni By Ferry
As Taveuni is the "breadbasket" of Fiji, supplying the majority of root crops, copra (dried coconut flesh) and kava to other parts of Fiji, it has a ferry dock facility at Wairiki, servicing two large roll on-roll off passenger and transport ferries to and from Suva.
Gounder Shipping is the best of the two, offering a relatively comfortable journey of approximately 20 hours from Suva to the island.
The ferry service is an overnight trip and leaves Suva for Taveuni two times a week, (via Savusavu in Vanua Levu and sometimes Koro Island), departing Suva on Monday and Friday.
The ferry leaves Natovi Jetty in Walu Bay, Suva and tickets can be purchased before-hand from the respective ferry offices or on-board on the day of sailing (for a slight premium). The office is located in Walu Bay. In Taveuni, the ferries leave Wairiki Jetty. Tickets can also be bought on-board on the day of sailing . they offer economy class (quite popular with the locals) first class "airplane seats" (1 step up, with the added advantage of renting a mattress for $10) or cabin class (please check for current prices)
Taveuni By Airplane
The most direct way to get to the island is by airplane. Taveuni has an airport at Matei, and you can fly in from the main island of Viti Levu from either Nadi International or Nausori Airport (Suva).
Flights leave to and from Taveuni at least twice a day, sometimes stopping off at Savusavu airport (Vanua Levu) or Nausori Airport (if flying from Nadi). It takes about 90 minutes to fly to/from Nadi airport and about 45 minutes to fly to/from Nausori airport. Fiji Airways operates the flights via their domestic carrier, Pacific Sun. www.fijiairways.com
Lastly, be ready for a shock when you go back to your home country. As one visitor said "Despite what I was told in all the pre-arrival information, I didn’t think returning to my world would be a problem… I was wrong.
While our infrastructure and technology back home provides us with some amazing benefits (i.e. good health care, stable government), our sense of community is almost non‐existent compared with Fiji. Don’t get too comfortable with Pacific Islander hospitality or you may just decide to leave your home behind and relocate on Taveuni"