This was my second trip to Fiji. Both were dive oriented and went like a charm. At first one, in august of 2010, we visited Mana Island, located southwest of Nadi, just 45 minutes away by the speedboat from the largest island of Fiji archipelago. It was a small and very lovely spot, in 2 – 3 hours you could’ve walked around the whole island.
Taveuni, however, being the third largest island of Fiji, was a lot larger and you’d need more than 3 – 4 hours to drive perimeters of this beautiful volcanic formation. Also known as Fiji’s Garden Island, this mountainous, lush and very productive land spreads over 169 square miles. Taveuni, in contrast to the Mana, offers a lot more to see and to discover. Spectacular waterfalls fed by numerous rainfalls, nature reserves, bird watching, Wairiki Mission or, what I highly recommend, the village of Lavena where you can trail by the scenic coastline or stay overnight at Lavena Lodge and be the first in the whole world to see a bright and cheerful cap of the rising sun. Here you can find a comprehensive “Travel guide to Taveuni”.
I don’t want to reminisce about 11 hours of flight from LA to Suva. But from Suva … well, from Suva to Taveuni we flew over countless, large and small beautiful islands embellished by spikes of turquoise reefs. And like a hungry dog salivating at the sight of the long-awaited bowl of food, I, looking at those atolls through the window of an airplane, still vividly remember a pleasant premonition of the great discoveries ahead.
I also can’t forget mountains, waterfalls, flowers, rivers, coconuts and mangos, breadfruit trees, bananas, kava, pineapples, avocado, papaya, mandarins, sugar canes, pears and much more, then you can name, as the constant companion of our journeys.
And I always will remember local folks. Twice, at different time and locations, they observed hopeless expression on my face, as I picked up a fallen seed, turning it in my hands looking for the easy way to get its yummy flesh. And twice, with understanding, kind smile and unmatchable dexterity, they cracked it for me, offering to savor its delicious content. Locals on the islands were beyond nice, they all, without exception, tried to make all of us feel at home. And I did. I’ve met some remarkable humans, islanders and guests, with whom I’d gladly keep friendship for years to come.
This trip was organized by Jack Connick, the diver and owner of the Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. located in Seattle, WA. One auspicious day I received an email from his shop, advertising Fiji Dive Trip to Taveuni.
- Round trip from LA to Taveuni and back,
- 7 nights accommodations in Deluxe Ocean (View Room (double occupancy)
- Roundtrip private ground transfers Taveuni Airport/Resort
- Daily cooked breakfast, 2-course lunch & 3-course dinner
- Afternoon coffee, tea and fresh baked goods
- 5 days of 3 tank boat dives
- tanks, weights & refreshments
- Unlimited shore diving, free use of kayaks, nightly entertainment and kava
Also, for additional $650, you could’ve extended your stay for 3 extra days. Recollecting how short and unfulfilling my first trip to Mana was, I took that offer without second thought. My wife and one of our mutual female friends decided to join me. So on October 13th we happily landed and settle in Garden Island Resort.
First of all, Garden Island Resort geographically situated just 10-15 minutes by boat from Rainbow Reef. I think it is very reasonably priced, clean, elegant, very cozy, nicely furnished accommodation. All rooms have a spacious shower, mini bar, TV set, Jacuzzi, balcony and an ocean view to dive for ;) Dive-shop in less than a minute of walking distance from the furthest room. For $100 you’d get a weekly access to the Internet. The connection could’ve been … hmm… a bit more stable, but hey … we are in Fiji and I don’t think someone would travel to the other side of the globe to waste precious vacation time in front of a computer, right?
The food was delicious. Morning tables offered fresh juices, sliced fruits, yogurts, cereal, coffee and tea. Getting ready for 2-morning dives I was fueling myself up with a sizable plate of eggs and bacon. Every morning, each guest was presented with lunch and dinner menus. And at appropriate time all was done and served according to our requests. In my humble opinion, the chef knew his business well, preparing every day delightful meals. If you are not planning to dive or to travel around the island, there is a pool right next to the restaurant with many recliners or egg-shaped, suspended, woven lounge chairs. Now just imagine; a good book, coconut filled with cold rum punch, spectacular view, faint rustle of the palm leaves, a lulling murmur of ocean waves and ah…you are in the paradise.
All questions or requests were taking care of immediately by staff and management of the hotel. And I’ll never forget those girls who were taking such a great care of us. With unmatchable patience, smile and kindness they were tending to our every need. I would like to thank them all; Ili, Angela, Anna, Eta, Tracy, Latilla and many others from the bottom of my heart.
The first stop on our way to Lavena Lodge was at Tavoro Waterfalls. Lana, Yelena and I were very lucky because when we reached Lower Bouma Falls, we were privileged to observe as a local couple was getting married, offering their vows to each other right by a roaring waterfall.
By the end of the ceremony, I honestly don’t know how it happened, but I’ve got lost among guests and found myself under the wedding canopy with a local beauty. The place had lots of slippery slopes ;)
You could, I believe, take farther walk and visit two more waterfalls, but we did not have much time so after about 30 minutes of photo session we continue to Lavena.
We spent there a night so we can be first in a whole world to salute to a new sun. However in that regard we weren’t too lucky. I mean celestial body had risen, yet all we saw was a bunch of bright holes punched through thick, heavy layer of clouds. Well, what can you do? We can’t really complain, as we still experienced something special at Lavena Lodge. Plus, for only $30 FJD per night, it’s just another reason to come back.
On the day before our departure, we did come back to the village. But it was late morning and the main reason was to trail twisting, curving, water jumping, snaking through the trees yet unforgettable, the scenic coastline of Lavena. Just in a few minutes, as we set on the track, presence of humans habitat disappeared behind thick vegetation, leaving us face-to-face with wild nature. Soon passage became even narrower, sometimes pressing us to squeeze between large, moss-covered trees.