After 1h25min we landed in Matei on Taveuni. It´s a super tiny airport, just one little house, no luggage belt, no security, no nothing. Pretty cute!
From there we got picked up by a shuttle and transferred to the Maravu Plantation and Beach Resort. We checked in our private Bure. It was quite big and very nice.
We got some lunch, walked over the Resort for a bit and looked for Dive Shops online. We had a very lazy evening before we went to bed. Next morning after breakfast we walked into Matei, bought some Coconuts and fresh fruit from a guy on the side of the road and some other small supplies in the supermarket before we looked for a taxi which would take us to the Lavena Coastal Walk. Taxi is basically the only way to get around the island apart from renting a car and they are pretty expensive. Generally this is definitely not the cheapest place in the world, but there are also many more expensive ones. We paid F$110 to get to the coastal walk and back and the driver was waiting there for us plus played tour guide on the way, showing us some nice spots and stopping every now and then for us to take pictures. At the beginning of the trail we had to pay F$25 each as access to the Natural Park. You have to walk through a village, pass the school and kinder garden and then always along the coast until you reach the Wainibau Falls. There are beautiful and stunning views, most parts of the trail are super easy to walk, but you also have to cross a river at one point and the last part is pretty steep and slippery. You can´t get very close to the waterfall, you have to swim. Once around the corner you see that there are actually two waterfalls. It looks amazing and is definitely worth getting into this ice cold water on a rainy day without much sun. We were playing around in the water for quite a while until we both were just shivering from the cold. Once we changed into dry clothes again we walked back for a bit until we reached a sheltered picnic area with a roof. There we sought shelter from the rain and ate a few of our supplies. A frog was visiting us. We had to hurry a bit to get back since we agreed with the taxi driver that he would pick us up at 4:45 PM.
Took about one hour to get back to the resort. We showered and changed and wanted to go to another restaurant since the menu at the Maravu was pretty small and basically the same as at Bamboo just less choices. So it got a bit boring soon. We first tried a local place just around the corner, but unluckily it was closed for the week. There are not too many options since Matei is very small. Somebody else had told us that you can eat very well at the Coconut Grove. So we walked there. It´s about 15 minutes’ walk, just pass the airport. But they didn´t let us in without a reservation. By then we were really hungry and it was pitch black on that street so not too much fun to walk. Anyway since we didn´t have another choice we walked back to Maravu and had some dinner there. After dinner we joined the Kava round. The Kava here is a lot stronger than the one in Nadi. We played a round of Irish Snap while listening to the guitar music with some other guests. Beautiful night! The next morning Nate realized that he had forgotten to answer the dive shop and we had big problems reaching them. We basically wasted half the day waiting until we could finally talk to them, just to learn that they are booked out for the White Wall for the rest of the week. Great! To avoid missing out on all possible dives this week (we have been in contact with several dive shops while waiting) we booked the last available spots of the week for the next day to the rainbow reef. It was already 2:30 pm and it was still raining. So we just walked down to the beach and went snorkeling for a bit. It was low tide so we had to walk quite a bit. It was nice, but not the best snorkeling ever.
Hot shower to warm up after and another walk to Coconut Grove where we had a reservation for that evening. It´s a really nice atmosphere there and the food is nice. More expensive though than at Maravu and they only have wine, no beer or any other alcohol. We went back and to bed since we had to get up early the next day for diving. We got picked up at 7 am. After fitting the gear we went on board of the dive boat and dove the Fish Factory and Rainbow´s End. The Rainbow Reef – situated in the Somosomo Strait- is the soft coral capital of the world and considered one of the most famous dive sites in the South Pacific. It´s really nice and there are loads of fish.
When you book over Maravu you get an ok deal with Ocean Sports, but be careful if you book there directly since they list a few prices in Fiji and a few prices in US dollars without properly declaring that. The bad awakening comes with the final bill. We managed to finally confirm a dive to White Wall with Garden Island for the day after tomorrow. We took a short nap and then went to Naqara – the main town on Taveuni. It´s still very small though. Many places on Taveuni don´t take credit cards or if they do, you have to pay a high fee. There is only one ATM on the whole island, which is in Naqara. So we made use of that, went to a supermarket, walked around a bit and had a late lunch at Ria Poni Wine & Dine. Great food for little money!
The next day we basically chilled and got some stuff done. We also took a cab to the Dateline. There you can stand with one food in today and the other in yesterday. It is nice, but there is only the sign and the line and nothing else. So better combine it with something else in that direction when you already pay for the cab.
We went to the beach after, took some nice pictures, swam, read, collected some papayas that grow everywhere here and used the swing hanging from a tree.
After shower and dinner we played a bit of table tennis and then went to bed since we had another early morning ahead. Plus I could hardly walk anymore. My right foot was swollen and super sore. On Fiji I was somehow not very lucky with my feet. On Mana Island I already had an in-grown toe nail on the big toe of the right foot and the middle toe of the left foot was very red, swollen and sore for a couple of days (probably stepped into something while walking around barefoot) so that I could hardly walk. On the first day on Taveuni I was bitten or stung by some insect on top of my right food and must have scratched it open during the night. It got infected plus the next day on the Coastal walk I stepped on a stick that snapped and one end of it ended up poking into the wound. So I had an open wound of about 1 cm in diameter on top of my foot that just didn´t want to heal in this tropical climate and with being in salt water almost every day. It got very sore and red and had some funny colors to it plus my foot would swell up several times. Thanks again Hadde for your remote diagnostics and the tips how to treat all that stuff. On the next morning we took a cab at 7 am again to get to Garden Island. Another couple who stayed in Maravu showed up in the morning as well, they had also booked the dive at Garden Island. So we could share the cab with Ricky and Hannah. While we got our gear they already said that it won´t be possible to go to the White Wall since the current was too strong and it would be too dangerous. We were all very disappointed but what could we do. At least the Rainbow Reef is nice and there are like 20 dive spots there and we only knew two so far. Going to the White Wall is only possible on very few days of the months. It depends on the moon phase, the tides, the currents and many other things to make it safe enough to go and also to see it really as a white wall not just a brown wall (when the corals are not in bloom). All 9 of us got in the shuttle and were transferred to the boat. We drove out and it got bumpier and bumpier. In the beginning it was fun, but it got a bit scary after a while. At one point we hit a big wave in a stupid angle. Big boom, we almost capsized and the tank slid once across the boat only hanging on the gas line, it started to stink like petrol too. The locals started to get nervous now. That is usually never a good sign. They decided to cancel the diving and we returned to shore. There was also not a single other boat around. The good thing was that we didn´t have to pay for it and we could book for the next day again, so having another chance on the White Wall. We went back to the resort and had a late breakfast before we ordered a cab to Bouma Falls. We payed F$80 return and it is about 45 min one way. When you order a cab through the hostel it is always more expensive, so either get a number and call yourself or just walk into the village and find a cab. Through the hostel it would have been like F$120. The National Park itself is another F$30 each. After about 10 minutes we reached the first waterfall. It is beautiful and quite high, but there were way too many people. So we walked for another 40 minutes to the second waterfall. I haven´t been too impressed by that one so we walked on to the third one for another 40 minute. We took some pictures and went for a swim in the cold water. On our way back we had a quick snack stop at the lookout. The sun started to disappear behind the trees so we ended up not swimming anymore at the first waterfall since it was too chilly.
Back at the visitor center, while we waited for our cab driver, another driver helped me out with some disinfection stuff and a new band aid for my foot since I almost lost the one I was having while swimming in the waterfall. Back at Maravu we went to the beach to watch the sunset, had dinner and played cards with one of the staff before going to bed.
We had to get up early again for another try at the White Wall. The dive shop said they would call us in the early morning if it is possible to go or not so that we don´t have to come over for nothing in case it won´t be possible. They called and said we could go. I was very excited since I honestly didn´t believe the sea would calm down enough over night that it would be possible and diving the Great White Wall was one of the main reasons why I came to Taveuni. We again shared a cab with Ricky and Hannah and met the same crowd of people at the check in as on the previous day. When we drove out it was sunny, almost no wind and almost no waves. Perfect! There obviously had been a reason why we had to turn around the day before since this weather on this day was hard to beat. The Great White Wall is just amazing and beautiful! It is deservedly famous and cited as a world class dive site rated in the Top 10 of the world. It is really hard to catch in pictures though, at least without a professional camera. You probably think it´s nothing special, but you have to see it with your own eyes. It´s super deep there. We only went down to 30m but the wall still drops a lot further. The white soft corals are just beautiful! We also dove through 2 tunnels, actually lava tubes which I love anyway. At little later when it was not that deep anymore I took the strap of my camera off my arm to hand it to Ricky in order to take a picture of Nate and me. He didn´t take it though but took a picture with his own camera. I somehow forgot to reattach the strap to my arm and when a few minutes later the guide asked for my remaining air I let the camera go to grab the gauge and pfff it was gone. Shit! First reflex when something falls out of your hand is to look on the floor. So I first searched on the bottom for a while, most of the others helped me, until I realized “Wait the GoPro is actually attached to a floating handle, so it went up not down!”. I signalled the others that they can stop searching and just thought I would never ever see my camera again. Was a bit angry with myself, but since it doesn´t help to freak out under water and there is anyway nothing I could do, I just stayed calm and we finished the dive. When we finally ascended and came back to the surface, I saw something orange bobbling on the surface not too far away from us. I couldn´t believe my luck, it was my GoPro. So I safely got it back and was super happy!
We drove into a small bay and had a break there with water, tea and some snacks. Was beautiful and you can only get there by boat since it is a private place. We had a second dive at Anne´s Bommies and then went back to Garden Island.
It was finally time for payment now and of course they tried to rip us off. All of a sudden there were some fees attached which resulted in $50 more per person. We still had the email though in which they confirmed the final price. So after discussing a while and I just refused to pay more they got the manager and with the email they finally agreed on the price we had before. Since it was a really nice resort (definitely far above my budget class), the weather was great, we didn´t really have plans and just had a great dive experience, we three couples ( Eddy & Helen, Ricky & Hannah and Nate & me) decided to stay a bit at the bar, have some drinks and use the pool for a while.
When we finally got back to our accommodation at around 3 pm Nate and I each booked a massage, had a quick rest after and then got ready for dinner at Coconut Grove with the other four. The next morning it was already time to check out. We booked a late checkout so we could sleep in a little. After checkout we went to the beach for a while, then had a small lunch and I wrote my diary until the free shuttle to the airport was picking us up at 3:30 PM. Back to Nadi we got picked up again and checked into our room. We got our stuff out of the luggage room at Bamboos and I packed again for the next flight. Then we had a nice dinner at Smugglers Cove followed by our last Kava at Bamboos. Next morning I had to get up at 5 to get to the airport in time for my flight to Australia. Nate was staying for another day. On the way to the airport I saw sunrise over the Sleeping Giant. That was really beautiful! I also talked to the cab driver. He earns F$20 a day no matter how many fares he has, which is nothing! He would love to move to Australia, but can´t afford the flight. The cyclone almost 2 years ago had destroyed his house and the government didn´t hold word when it came to financial support of the victims of the cyclone. So they had to move to some relatives because they also couldn´t afford to build a new house. Very tricky situation. But as I had seen so often on my travels, the people here have hardly anything, but they are still happy, smile a lot and are super friendly and helpful.
At the airport one bottle of Bounty Rum was only F$39.95, so about half than what you pay in the supermarket. So better buy it there if you want to take one home.
I had a great time in this country! Vinaka Vakelevu Fiji! The Bula will stick in my head for a very long time!