Known as the Garden Island thanks to an abundance of lushly vegetated volcanic cones running down an elongated central spine, Taveuni is Fiji’s third largest island. Don’t be alarmed by the almost 150 volcanic cones across the island though: the last eruption occurred in the mid 1500’s. Taveuni Island is a splendid retreat for naturists who don’t mind a dash of floral-infused active adventure both above and below the water. Surrounded by the Koro Sea, on the east coast flourishing gardens thrive in a tropical climate dotted with waterfalls draped in mist. The west coast fronts Somosomo Strait, a magnet for sun-worshippers and scuba divers, while the south coast is popular with surfers.
Diving Fijian waters rarely gets better than in Somosomo Strait. The self proclaimed ‘Soft Coral Capital of the World’ for good reason, fertile currents flow through the channel between Taveuni and Vanua Levu creating extraordinary coral gardens. Rainbow Reef and Great White Wall deservedly make regular red carpet appearances on ‘Best Dives’ lists globally.
Above sea level, Taveuni Island is no less spectacular. At almost 2000m above sea level Fiji’s second highest peak Uluigalau dominates the skyline, though a lesser ridge is actually more interesting. The volcanic crater that forms Lake Tagimaucia sits 800m above the Koro Sea and is the habitat for the rarest of blooms, the tagimaucia flower. Flowering between October and December, according to legend the tears of a young girl forbidden to marry her love turned into the red and white bloom which is now the floral emblem of Fiji.
Straddling the 180 degree meridian of Longitude, many come to Taveuni to hike the web of trails that penetrate deep into Bouma National Heritage Park. Visitors reap the benefits of Taveuni’s tumultuous topographical history; volcanic ash accounts for fertile soil while long ago earthquakes created waterfalls from ancient lava flows. Many birds and reptiles little seen elsewhere in Fiji are in abundance on Taveuni thanks to an absence of predators like the mongoose. Multiple cascades at Tavoro Waterfalls are well worth hiking to, so too Vidawa rainforest hike, but the most exciting waterfall on Taveuni is the Waitavala Water Slide. A gentle descent over (mostly) smooth rocks, centuries of gushing water has carved a narrow channel into the rocks just wide enough for a human bottom to glide, terminating in a pool at the base. Launch yourself from the head of the falls at your own risk. But it is devilishly good clean fun!
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