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Taveuni - Garden island of Fiji

Updated: 18 hours ago

Top waterfall (of three) in Boumi
Top waterfall (of three) in Boumi

Taveuni lies around 45nm south east of Savu Savu and is known as the Garden island of Fiji. Some call it a microcosm of the best parts of Fiji with lovely waterfalls, a lush tropical greenery and renowned diving. As soon as we had our cruising permit and we had welcomed my friend Paul aboard (again) we set off for the Paradise Dive resort on the south western tip of the island. The resort has mooring buoys for up to seven cruisers which are free, although you are expected to frequent happy hour or eat in their restaurant occasionally.

Paradise Dive Resort, Taveuni
Paradise Dive Resort, Taveuni

This resort is ideally placed with easy access to Vuna reef, Rainbow reef and the Great White Wall. The channel between Vitua Levi (second biggest island and location of Savu Savu) and Taveuni narrows and the current can flow at 1-3 knots. A coral ecosystem consists of both hard and soft coral, which feed in different ways. Soft coral requires current to bring the nutrients. The current through this channel is perfect and Rainbow reef and The Great White Wall are famous for their soft coral.

We had come for the diving. It turned out to be excellent value. We did the PADI Advanced Open water course and 21 dives in the two weeks. There were many 'firsts' for me; diving to 30m, swimming through caves or pass-throughs and diving at night. But the best part was the improvement in technique. Diving is about doing as little as possible (to preserve air). A sort of meditation underwater. We liked our tuition but the Fijian dive guides/instructors surprised us with their attire. The sea temperature was almost 30 degrees C yet they dived wearing full 5mm wetsuits with a hood. We settled for 3mm shorties, even at night. The sea was so hot that, when we first jumped in the swimming pool, we thought it was cold. But it was 25 degrees C!

When I say that the resort had easy access to the three reefs, that was thanks to their fast dive boats.

Denise, enjoying coffee on the way to Rainbow reef
Denise enjoying coffee on the way to Rainbow reef. (most other guests were 'upstairs', enjoying the view)

As you can see from the photo and the number of tanks, there were quite a lot of divers. This presents an issue when diving to enjoy soft coral. This coral is at it's most spectacular when the current is strongest as it then 'opens' to feed. Yet, diving in a 3 knot current requires advanced, confident divers and even then it is difficult to keep large groups together.

Therefore, the two daily dives were nearly always planned around slack water. In addition, Paradise resort only dives the Great White Wall for three days around the neaps (weakest current). We were fortunate enough that neaps fell within our two week stay. We may not have seen it at its best, but it was still unique

The Great White Wall with it's unique soft coral
The Great White Wall with it's unique soft coral. (Note: we did not have dive cameras, picture taken from Internet)

We found 'magic coral' (this is a soft coral that changes colour when you touch it), and an endless variety of nudibranches (caterpillar like creatures) and learnt where to find them. On the night dive we encountered  numerous crabs and shrimps, as well as a huge puffer fish. But the highlight was finding an octopus. We spent a full 10 minutes marvelling at its various attempts to camouflage itself, first by freezing and changing colour to match the seabed, then, when our torches still shone on him, making a run for a rock and then changing not just colour, but the texture of its skin. Clever animal.

We did take a day off from diving to explore the island. There is a nature reserve at Boumi which features a trail linking three waterfalls . There are opportunities to swim in all three, although I preferred the top one as the extra effort to reach it meant that I had it all to myself (see top picture). Many people do not get past the first one as it is within ten minutes walk from the road. When we were there, we had to share it with at least twenty other people.

Paul enjoying a swim in the first waterfall at Boumi, Taveuni
Paul enjoying a swim in the first waterfall at Boumi

Taveuni is also famous for a natural water slide and this was a bit special. Here, nature is showing it can produce something longer and just as exciting as any water park. I admit though, if this was in Europe or USA, you would almost certainly not be allowed to do it. I got cocky after the first run. I came out after the second a bit battered and bruised!

The natural water slide, Taveuni
The natural water slide, Taveuni

And what of the 'tropical garden' reputation? Rather than show endless pictures of flowers we encountered, I prefer to show just how lush the tropical vegitation was. A microcosm of Fiji, indeed!

View over the lush tropical green of Taveuni
View over the lush tropical green of Taveuni

After the diving and a Fijian 'cultural evening', we headed back to Savu Savu to take on water, to provision, get rid of rubbish,do our laundry and sort out a couple of boat bits.

I expected one of the items to be problematic: I was looking for a 16mm diameter, 80mm long stainless steel bolt. The (small but relatively good) chandlery only went to 12.5mm diameter. There were five hardware stores in Savu Savu. I stuck my nose in each in turn, getting more and more depressed at the paltry selection in stainless steel. I almost decided not to bother with the last one. Did they have it? No. But he told me to go back to the first because they were owned by Ajax Fastenings in the (much bigger) town two hours away. They made stainless steel bolts and should have something. Hurriedly, I made my way from one end of town to the other. I asked if they knew Ajax Fastenings and were they related? Affirmative. Could they ask them if they had the bolt? Affirmative. We called. Could Ajax Fastenings help? Affirmative!

But it was 13.00 by this time. The bolt was two hours drive away. I asked if they could put it in a taxi. I was happy to pay. The sales representative smiled, told me that would cost $100 and that he had a better idea. They would put it on a bus. A bus? Yes, there was one leaving in 30 minutes and it would arrive around 16.00. So I paid the hardware store in Savu Savu for the bolt in Lavasa, two hours away. All I had to do was go to the bus station, wait for a green bus with numberplate IV333, and collect the bolt from the bus driver. Sure enough, almost bang on time, the bus arrived and the bolt was duly delivered. Cost for this service from the bus company? Nothing! Welcome to Fiji.

Skyfall on the dock at Copra Shed marina, Savu Savu
Skyfall on the dock at Copra Shed marina

We only have another 10 days in Fiji. Our second 'adventure' would be to explore the Yasawa island group off. We would depart very early the next morning

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