Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Taveuni Paradise

Taveuni, in the northeast of the Fiji Island group, is called the Garden Island with good reason. As one resident put it, "Anyone who goes hungry on Taveuni is one lazy Fijian."

Coconuts, mango, papaya, banana, cassava, guava and edible hibiscus, bele, a delicious form of spinach, can be plucked from the roadside. All grow wild naturally. Volcanic springs provide pure drinking water and the waters of the South Pacific provide marine edibles galore.

Taveuni Attractions
With its volcanic spine, Taveuni boasts lush beauty and scenic delights from waterfalls to blow holes. Rainbow Reef with its 32-kilometers and dozen-plus named dive sites is considered one of the best in the world for SCUBA enthusiasts. Even snorkelers will be enchanted by the bright blue coral and star fish to be found just beyond the shore.

What Taveuni doesn't have is island-wide electricity, traffic jams - most Fijians walk where they want to go, pollution and hordes of tourists. Paved, or "sealed" roads are also scarce as are sandy beaches of any width.

Arrival
Three of us Taveuni-bound travel writers went from the 10 1/2-hour Air Pacific flight from Los Angeles to the Nadi International Airport on Viti Levu directly to the one-hour and a few minute Pacific Sun flight in a Twin Otter to the tiny Matei Airport.

The road to Paradise Taveuni Resort was a culture shock - 30-40 minutes of really rough road, stretches of which required four-wheel drive. Our first Taveuni "massage".

Hearty "Bulas!" and flowered leis were presented by smiling staffers (there were no other kind!) and we were escorted to a seaside dining area to meet owner, Aussie Allan Gortan, and sit and relax with a cold coconut beverage.

First day at Paradise
Hammocks strung between coconut palms, a beautiful pool and lush landscaping pleased us. The resort's custom of a foot bath and massage as we reached our individual thatched roof bures charmed and soothed us. The lack of air conditioning worried us, especially this Florida girl.

Tip: No steps, Levelers, and the resort is on a flat bluff above the sea.

At lunch (I had a wonderful Thai-style fish) Alan offered us a choice: take a tour to a village and the blow hole farther down the south end of the island or relax at the resort. After 30-plus hours of traveling the latter was oh so tempting but not wanting to miss anything we pressed on.

On our beds we had found gift sulas, the strips of colorful cloth men and women use for skirts and sarongs, which we females would need. Fijian village protocol decrees that women cover shoulders and wear skirts covering the knees and that neither sex wear hats or sunglasses.

None of the pre-planned kava ceremony or meles at Vuna Village on Taveuni, but we did present the traditional waka, the bundle of dried red pepper plant roots used to make kava, to the acting chief at his house (the village chief had died and they had not yet selected another) and receive his permission to visit.

Tip: If you want to see how few trappings of civilization are needed to be happy on Taveuni or to feel like the Pied Piper with ever-growing hordes of children following you, visit a village.

Our Paradise guide, Mai Keli (Michael), was a font of knowledge, identifying and describing the uses of the many plants, filling us in on the island's history and customs. The blowhole. Kanacea, was interesting but what we really loved was seeing and hearing about the island and knowing that for once, we really had gotten away from it all.

Especially when we finally turned in. The outdoor shower was refreshing but my bure was stifling despite the comfortably balmy night. After tossing and turning a bit I got up to check windows. The housekeeping staff had closed them all to make the burning mosquito coil more effective!

Open screened windows throughout the bure and overhead fans made a world of difference. One more trapping of civilization could be dispensed with at Paradise Taveuni.

Days two and three coming up.

1 comments:

OffTheSpeedLimit said...

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February 7, 2013 at 6:07 AM

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