We spend a week in Taveuni, an island in the north east of Fiji, at the Garden Island Resort. It’s a great week of diving and comfortable accommodations. We love the hotel. The staff is so sweet. We are picked up from the airport by the owner, and as we walk into the lobby the entire staff is lined up to greet us, including the Garden Island Boy Band, and they all sing to welcome us. I have never been greeted like this and it’s really special. Not hokey at all. I wish I had filmed it, but here’s a video of them sending us off with a goodbye song:
Here are some pics of the hotel:
Another thing that at first fascinates us, but in times starts to bug, are the 500 fruit bats (“flying foxes”) that live in the trees just outside the hotel. They fly around at dusk and make a racket fighting with each other, but they are pretty cool.
Despite the bats, we finally just relax for a week and don’t try to plan the next four months or discover the perfect new home. This helps a lot. We dive for four days and each dive is better than the last. The dive operation at the resort arranges everything and we just have to hop on the boat at 8:30 every morning, for a quick 15 minute ride to the Rainbow Reef. We meet some cool people on the boat, including an Aussie couple (Kim and Imogene) and a Brazilian couple (Roberta and John) who know a lot about Fiji and diving and give us some great tips.
Our very first dive happens to be the most technical of them all, the Great White Wall. We jump in and the current is pumping. I swim my little heart out to the entrance of the cave, and then we descend from 40 to 80 feet to come out to the great white wall, which is a huge white wall (whaddya know!) that goes down hundreds more feet and is covered with white coral. It’s pretty cool, but our little camera can’t really capture it.
It’s ok, but for the first dive I’m just hanging on for the ride. Then we hang out at shallower depths for a while and I use up my air way before everyone else (as usual) so one of the dive masters takes me for my three minute safety stop at 15 feet. Since we don’t need to stay with the group we just let the current take us, and we are flying by everything for the next three minutes. It’s wild, and pretty fun. It reminds me of Nemo and the turtles in the East Australian Current.
Every day the current is ripping, but I get more comfortable moving along with it (or fighting it, as we have to do often). Mark of course is Mr. Cool underwater, and the dive masters stop asking him how much air he has because he always comes up with half a tank.
Though the visibility is not as clear as the Caribbean, we see some beautiful things and the diving is up there as one of our top spots. The Rainbow Reef is full of soft coral, which is flowering because of the flowing current, in brilliant orange, purple, blue and white colors. And there is a ton of fish! We also see a few white tipped reef sharks, which I love. Lots of small things too, and probably Mark’s favorite is the Spanish Dancer.
Since we took so many diving pictures and videos, I’ll include a diving slideshow as the next post (coming soon!).
In the afternoons Mark and I work in the room (finally internet access in the room—so much better!) though occasionally the internet drops, so this is definitely not our forever place. The entire island gets internet from a Vodafone 3G tower that is on the island opposite Taveuni, and you have to be able to see the tower to pick it up. Luckily this hotel is directly across from it.
We take the kayaks out one day and paddle to a little island, which is beautiful. We are finally appreciating the south pacific beaches.
On our last day we visit Booma Falls, which is amazing. The hike to the falls looks like the grounds of the Hawaiian Hilton, except that it’s all native growth! The views are pretty spectacular, too.
And Heather Shepherd, I think I found a whole bunch of Leland’s cousins. Who knew he was Fijian?
The first waterfall is beautiful, and since it is a Sunday, there are lots of local families playing in the water.
We hike on to the second waterfall, and as it’s later in the day, there is not a soul there. We’ve never swum in a waterfall all by ourselves, so we jump in and take a dip. The water is warm (not what we expected!) and it’s pretty magical.
The hike is extremely lush and full of creatures like frogs, spiders, and blue-tailed skinks.
Our guide that drove us is full of interesting stories and information about the island. He says that all Taveuni land is owned by the local tribes, and any Fijian can request land to farm. Thus, he says, as long as you are not lazy, you never go hungry here. Tons of food is grown here including kava, sugar, bananas, guava, pineapple, coconut, and taro. He talks about how generally relaxed the Fijian culture is. I ask about the Indians that have migrated to Taveuni (over the last 300 years), and he says they farm as well on the island on leased land. He says they are motivated to work hard and get wealthy, whereas the native Fijians just farm enough for their families to eat, and then they relax. Interesting…
We also enjoy a couple of pizza dinners at the “one” restaurant in Taveuni. It has a great view and very yummy food.
So we have a nice week in Taveuni and are happy that we gave Fiji another chance. Here are few last pics of some aerial views of Taveuni: