Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow…
In the 19th century, needing to establish an International Dateline to distinguish one day from another for navigators, a line was drawn right through the middle of Taveuni and the island was forevermore divided geographically into two days.
On a road near Waiyevo village is a sign, which marks the location of the 180th meridian of longitude. Another marker, more precisely placed, can be found beyond the end of the Waiyevo village football field overlooking the sea. Here you can have your photo taken and have a little fun with time travel!
At the centre of the island, in a volcanic crater, you will find Lake Tagimoucia. Reaching the lake (which is at some 800 meters altitude) takes a serious hike of some three or four hours, depending on the condition of both the track, and of course, you.
The National Flower – Tagimoucia
The beautiful Tagimoucia flower (Medinilla waterhousei) only grows in the volcanic cold region high up in the mountains of Taveuni, thriving around Lake Tagimoucia. The rare red and white wild flower blooms between the months of October and February and cannot be found anywhere else in the world!
One of the many legends passed down through the ages, tells the story of a princess in love, who was being forced by her father to marry another man from the village. She ran away, high up into the mountains above the village and fell asleep in the comfort of a tree that hid her and shared in her pain. The tear shaped flowers we see today, are a reminder of the princesses true love
If you are in the mood for a completely ‘natural’ high – in all senses of the word, then take a trip to the Waitavala waterslide.
A naturally polished rock streambed chute plummets for about 50 meters through the stunning rainforest, and offers an afternoon of sheer delight!
Only a short walk from Waiyevo town, the local kids will love showing you how it’s done – some of the better practiced can even do it standing up!
Do check with the locals after heavy rains, as it can be a little rapid and muddy.
Wairiki Mission Church
When sailing past the main wharf, you will notice a large white cross standing on the hill overlooking a large stone church with impressive stained glass windows.
History tells us that a famous 19th-century naval battle occurred here when Taveuni warriors turned back a large Tongan invasion force. One account reports that a Marist priest provided the Fijians with a fighting strategy that helped them win – their weapon: a small cross.
The defeated Tongans ended up as Fijian barbeque and the French priest who was then pronounced the Fijian chief’s advisor was given land and laborers to assist in building his mission. Many converted to Catholicism after the battle believing the cross to have been their savior, and the giant cross watching over the battleground serves as a reminder of this.
The church is an impressive building set against a dramatic backdrop and catching a Sunday service regardless of your faith or lack thereof, is well worth it if only to listen to the beautiful unaccompanied singing by the choir.
Taveuni is noteworthy for the diversity of flora and fauna, particularly the island’s bird life.
Bird watchers consider Taveuni among the best of the big islands. You’ll see the green-blue Taveuni Parrot all over the island, or at least hear its distinctive squawk.
Big pigeons and parrots are easy to spot, but the ones avid bird-watchers come for are the Azure Crowned Flycatcher, and perhaps the most famous of all the birds found on the island, the fabled Orange Dove.
The Rainbow Reef
Diving around Taveuni is a real pleasure, famed for breathtaking soft coral reefs. The strong currents that rip through the narrow Somosomo Strait create ‘The Rainbow Reef’. Vuna Reef offers the opportunity to see larger pelagic and schooling species and a mixture of pristine hard and soft corals.
Bouma National Heritage Park
The Bouma National Heritage Park, on the eastern side of the island, was established in 1990, as the original ‘eco-tourism’ venture of Fiji.
Protecting the lush rainforests, coastal area and fringing coral reef also created a means to generate income for the four villages whose land is bounded by the park.
Within the National Heritage Park, each of the four villages has established eco-tourism projects:
Waitabu Marine Park & Campground
The Waitabu Marine Park was established in 1998 after an agreement between over 7 Fijian communities was made, not to fish or anchor in the 1km of selected fringing reef. Aside from the small tourism business this Marine Protected Area (MPA) has provided for the village of Waitabu, it has also provided a first hand example of the power of conservation, generating larger fish catches and increased biodiversity in the surrounding waters. More information about this can be found in the visitors centre.
Costs: Cultural Experience Tour – Bilibili ride, guided snorkeling tour, tea and refreshments with local musicians – $75 pp. Backpackers tour Guided snorkeling tour (inc. gear hire)- $50 pp. Campground – $15 pp includes use of kitchen facilities. Tents available for hire at the park. For bookings please call (679) 820 1999.
The Tavoro Waterfall trip is a beautiful 3 hour return hike: 3 trails of increasing difficulty taking you up into the hills above the village of Korovou and past the awe inspiring waterfalls of the Tavoro River. The trail starts out with a 10-minute walk to the first and most famous waterfall of Fiji, and then continues up a series of switchbacks past gorgeous panoramic views to the second & third falls.
Costs: Entry Fee $15 pp. Lunch & refreshments are available on request for an extra fee. For bookings please call (679) 820 4079.
Lavena Coastal Walk, Kayaking & Lodge
Experience the wild and scenic Taveuni coastline from Lavena. The walk is flat most of the way so everyone can give it a go! Once you reach the end you can have a refreshing swim at one of the most spectacular double waterfalls in Fiji. Alternatively, you can kayak along the coastline to remote waterfalls & enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. Experienced guides will lead you on an adventure of a lifetime. If you don’t feel like walking or kayaking, you can take a guided boat tour instead.
Costs: Coastal Walk Entry Fee – $15 pp. Sea kayaking including lunch & guided tour – $65 pp (or $50 each for 2 or more people). Boat tour along the scenic shoreline $65 pp (min 3 people – max 6). One nights Lodge accommodation $30 pp (inclusive of $15 walk fee), subsequent nights $20 pp. For bookings & lodge, please call (679) 820 3639 or 920 5834.
Vidawa Rainforest Hike & Bird Watching
Trained and experienced guides will take you on a bush trekking and bird watching adventure while sharing the knowledge of wildlife and history taught by their forefathers. Listen carefully as they explain how they have lived off the land and shaped it to meet their needs, and how they have come to realize the need to conserve and protect their forest.
Costs: A full day hike with a knowledgeable guide – $30 pp. Lunch can be provided for an additional $10 pp. For bookings please call (679) 822 0361.
All prices are correct at the time of going to print.