Paradise Taveuni: Reefs and waterfalls Week 2

As I write this I’m waiting in the “departure lounge” (hut) at Matei Airport on the Fijian garden island of Taveuni after a week staying at the Paradise Taveuni Resort for the last week. Apologies in advance for how long this is...

The transfer to the island of Taveuni from Viti Levu was pretty cool actually: first, a flight on a twin engine prop plane (Twin Otter) flying at around 2000ft gave us amazing views of the islands and reefs. The other occupants were a troop of Scandinavian blonde beauties on a group gap year trip.

Amazing coral from the air

The second part of our transfer was by road... reminding us a little bit of The Road to Hana experience on Maui: coastal road, bumpy and twisty in places, with wonderful views albeit somewhat obscured by the inclement weather. Along the way we came across a construction crew putting in some new drainage pipes.. hate to tell you fellas but, you left it a bit late (the rain was so torrential that the locals were lowering the covers on the bus windows).

Following the bus
Arriving at Paradise in the rain..

.. and then sun came out

Arriving at the Paradise Resort we were struck with the sentiment of “wow we really have just arrived in paradise!” Immaculate pathways lead to the main reception and dining area. Wow! And then the foot massage with this view. Tingle.

Welcome Vista

Manicured Gardens

View from the Honeymoon Bure

We stayed in the Honeymoon Bure which had jaw-dropping ocean views, an outdoor tub (yes, there are pictures; no, we’re not posting them here), hot water and 24 hour power! Having spent the previous few days somewhere with limited power and no WiFi, the first we thing we did was turn on the air-con and pay for 7 days’ upgraded internet :-). Yeah, we’re really adapting well to the slower pace...

Honeymoon Bure

We took a trip to Bouma Falls which involved being driven around virtually the entire island; encountering many of our driver’s friends and relatives all passing with a “Bula” or a seemingly similarly friendly greeting.

Lunch stop before the falls hike

After a picnic lunch there, we departed on a hike up to the falls that involved a rather shaky river-crossing using a rope and dexterous foot work. Happily we managed this twice without falling in (as not many before us apparently)!

Waterfall adventure complete with jungle crab
First falls - I took my time perfecting this one!

On the way back to the resort, we stopped to inspect one of the interesting attributes of Taveuni: the international dateline where you can experience today and tomorrow merely by taking a step over the line (once you have found it at the end of a sports field, that is :-0). The effect is a little demurred as Fiji, as a country, has understandably chosen to adopt a single time zone. And I wasn’t quite able to experience my birthday again and again as I would have had we visited the island a week later. We were kindly shown the Dateline Church by the resident Pastor who explained that half his congregation sit in yesterday and half in today.

Meridian Cinema, sadly abandoned

Diving was one of the big attractions of this week for us as we’d read that the Rainbow Reef off the Somosomo Staight was one of the top places to experience the delights of soft coral. The quantity of experienced divers staying at Paradise certainly reinforced this notion, as did the magnitude and quality of the diving facilities and instructors.. it really is a top notch setup.

High end diving resort equipped for the Great White Wall

So much so that Victoria and I have been inspired to take our PADI advanced open water diving course training at the earliest opportunity. The Great White Wall is the center-piece of the Rainbow Reef and whilst we did not get a chance to do that one this time, we did enjoy both Freeway and Fingers (we saw our first sharks there - white tipped!) as well as Orgasm and Tabua on the Vuna reef (we didn’t fake it):

Vuna Reef dive sites
AMAZING diving thx to the crew

Of course the GoPro we brought with us bust the night before diving so there is only a mental record of the sharks etc that we cannot share here.

Winston. What happens to a tropical resort when it gets destroyed by a category 5 cyclone? This was a question that Alan and Terri, owners of the resort, faced in February 2016 when Winston hit with full force and destroyed the resort. Their response to this existential life challenge was the #strongerthanwinston movement and an amazing rallying of staff and volunteers to rebuild the place in 3 months. Not even two years later and they are the #1 resort on TripAdvisor for the island of Taveuni. Based on our experience, that accolade is entirely well deserved. And it really is testament to what can be done when sheer force of will and rallying community is applied to a problem, not to mention, good leadership.

Terri with one of the resident 7 puppies

Kava. Our last night at Paradise Taveuni was Fiji Night. Special food, cooked in the ground, dancing and revelries and Kava. We all got to sport our “sulus”.. I’ve never worn a skirt before but I quite dug it and may have to turn up to a Scrum meeting at work wearing one.

Fiji Night

I got to be Chief for the evening which meant I could command my caller (Michael from San Diego) to proclaim “TOLO!”, at which we got another round of the mysterious but extremely popular local tincture of sun-dried Kava root. Unlike alcohol, Kava’s effect is more numbing hence it is the tourists getting less rowdy that is the sign things are working. We managed 7 or 8 rounds of the tourist friendly version and guess what? As one of Fiji’s biggest exports, “ceremonial grade kava” is available on Amazon.com with free Prime delivery! We’ll need to check it out when back in the US.

Kava and “Old McDonald” Fiji style

In closing, we loved our time on Taveuni. I honestly can’t think of too many other places I’ve been that are better: wonderful location, food, people, top diving. Did I mention the people? We made some new friends and shared some new experiences.

We miss you, Paradise
We will be back
Hail to the Chief

If we managed to keep you until the end, thanks for sticking with us! If you are interested in following along go to http://clarkezone.io and if you like gratuitous food pictures I’m posting those at http://instagram.com/clarkezone

Love James and Victoria

Created By
James Clarke


(C) James Clarke 2018 All Rights Reserved

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