Vanua Levu Island
Vanua Levu is the second largest island of the Fiji archipelago, located in the island group of the same name in the Pacific Ocean. In the past, it was called Sandalwood Island.
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Video: Vanua Levu
The name Vanua-Levu means “Big Earth” in local languages. The island’s topography is mountainous, with a ridge in the center that is the natural boundary between the provinces of Kakaudrove and Makuata. The climate is tropical. Because of the mountain range, the southern coast of the island has a wetter climate than the northern. The most interesting part of the island is the southern coast, where its capital, Savusavu, is located. This colorful tropical town spreads out on the shores of a picturesque harbor, where sailing ships used to anchor in the old days. The coral reefs off the coast of the island near Savusavu attract divers from all over the world.
From the southeast, Vanua Levu is washed by the Koro Sea. The island is of mixed volcanic and coral origin. It is also believed that Vanua-Levu was formed by the merger of several islands. The main part of the island is shaped like a triangle, with a base length of 180 km and sides ranging from 30 to 50 km.
Vanua-Levu Island was discovered by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643. He was followed in 1789 by British captain William Bligh, who was fleeing the mutineers of the ship Bounty, who put him and eighteen crew members in a 23-foot (7 m) barque with a supply of food and water for several days, a sextant and a pocket watch, but no maps or compass. In 1797 Vanua-Levu was explored by Captain James Wilson.
Around 1805, foreign traders began cutting sandalwood on the shores of Mbua Bay. But by 1815, the supply of food to the island was discontinued, and until 1840 it landed only whalers. In 1840, a young sailor named Jackson landed on the neighboring island of Taveuni, where he was received by the local chief. He then explored the eastern and northern coasts of Vanua Levu.
Around the 1860s, coconut palm plantations were planted on the island by people from Australia and New Zealand. Until the Great Depression, copra was Vanua Levu’s main export commodity, with the town of Savusavu as its center. At the same time the Indians founded the town of Lambasa, which became the main center for sugar cane cultivation.
There are several areas on the island that are completely unexplored, which for the modern world is a great rarity. Vanua Levu is world famous for the diversity and amazing mystery of the underwater world, excellent visibility and the best diving instructors. Fantastic underwater life, tantalizing currents, fabulous coral gardens, myriads of colorful fish, feeding sharks, swimming with dolphins and sea turtles, shipwrecks and even a sunken plane from World War II – each new dive is uniquely different and provides a new exciting experience. Vanua Levu is considered an ideal place for a beach holiday, but excursion lovers will not be bored here. In addition to the unique natural attractions, the island has several interesting historical sites and archaeological areas.
Among the natural attractions is Nasorolevu, the highest point on the island. The slopes of the mountain are covered with tropical vegetation, there are many hiking trails through these wonderful places, but some slopes of the mountain are still inaccessible because of the rough vegetation.
The island’s largest town is Labasa, and its symbol has been Floating Island for years. A small island located on one of the local lakes, is an amazing natural phenomenon. During the day a small piece of land can move across the surface of the lake in any direction, and sometimes even touches the shore. There is an amazing religious site in Labas – the Snake Temple. Locals consider this place sacred and regularly bring a variety of offerings to the temple: turmeric, coconut milk and incense, which, according to them, will propitiate the gods.
For those who wish to admire the historic buildings, the Savusavu area is worth a visit. Here you’ll find a well-preserved historic farmhouse, a vivid monument to the colonial era. While sightseeing in Savusavu, it’s worth checking out the local oyster farm. It’s not at all like similar farms on nearby islands, as oysters are not bred here for gastronomic purposes. Pearls are grown on the farm and everyone can learn a lot about the intricacies of this craft. On the territory of the farm there is an excellent store, where you can buy memorable gifts.
Hot springs are no less striking symbol of Savusavu. They are found in different parts of the area and are a constant reminder of the active volcanic activity. A walk through one of the fishing villages, the atmosphere and the structure of some of the local settlements has remained unchanged for many hundreds of years will give you a lot of experience.
Returning to the theme of natural attractions, it is worth noting and the Waisali Nature Reserve. The area of the reserve has an area of over 100 hectares, it is a vast tropical forest, absolutely untouched by civilization. It is home to many rare animals and birds, as well as rare species of flowers and trees, which can not be seen in any other part of the world.
The Tunuloa Peninsula, also known as Natewa or Kakudrove, lies in the southeastern part of Vanua-Levu, and is connected to the rest of the island by a narrow isthmus. It is a good place for birdwatching, hiking, or outdoor activities. The gravel road stretches along the entire peninsula, passing through numerous villages, copra plantations and dense forests, and ends in Darigala, the extreme northeastern part of the island. The vast Buka Bay, which runs deep into the peninsula from the east, is connected by ferries to the nearby island of Taveuni, but the rest of the peninsula is largely unexplored by tourists. Taveuni itself is widely known for its 31 km long coral reef inhabited by an amazing marine community. There are 12 small, quiet resorts built on the island, easily accessible by ferry and regular flights from Suva and Nadi. South of Buka Bay is the village of Dakuniba, famous for its stones covered with petroglyphs of unknown origin.
You can also swim a little, to the islands nearby, Taveuni and Rabi – there stand the coral walls of Magic Mountain and Shark Elly. Fans of extreme sports can go rafting on the island’s rivers – rafting takes place on bamboo rafts. Of course, it is worth taking an experienced instructor. Throughout the river walk you will have the opportunity to admire the beautiful local birds and animals, take pictures surrounded by the magnificent nature of Vanua Levu.
Beaches and resorts
The beaches of Vanua Levu will appeal to travelers who prefer to enjoy the pristine natural beauty, will impress scenic spots and snorkelers. One of the most picturesque parts of the coast is considered Savusavu Bay, which is located in the southern part of the island. This part of the coast is covered with a fine light sand, which makes the water becomes a rich turquoise hue. The water here is crystal clear and the sea is very calm, so Savusavu Bay (Savusavu) is suitable for recreation even with very young children. It is believed that the most picturesque beaches of the region are concentrated on the peninsula Tunuloa. They attract lovers of wildlife and secluded recreation, visitors to the local beaches is enough, but because of the long length is practically not felt.
The bay also attracts divers who come from all over the world to admire the fabulously beautiful coral gardens. The most beautiful places for diving are considered reefs Dream House (Dream House) and the Great White Wall, the beauty of coral reefs impress even experienced divers. Scuba enthusiasts should note that the best visibility is usually from early May to late October.
Several attractive resort areas are located along the highway Hibiscus, they will appeal to those who prefer to rest in the most comfortable conditions. The most prestigious resorts are considered Lomalagi, Namale and Jean-Michel Cousteau. In addition to well-equipped sandy beaches, they are ready to offer their guests a lot of services for an exciting vacation. The beach resorts have water sports centers and equipment rentals, as well as exciting boat trips and fishing trips.
The resort area of Lomalagi will appeal to romantic types, and this stretch of coast has a very laid-back and harmonious atmosphere. The resort of Namale caters exclusively to adult travelers. It is suitable not only for those who want to relax on the coast, but also for those who plan to organize a festive event on the picturesque beach.
The top-rated beach resort is Jean-Michel Cousteau, which employs a professional marine biologist. He is ready to accompany holidaymakers on sea walks and scuba dives, the acquaintance with the beauty of the underwater world together with a professional will be even more exciting. The owner of the beach resort is the world famous oceanologist Jean-Michel Cousteau, for the fans of diving and other water sports here are created the best conditions.
Vanua Levu Hotels
On the island, travelers have access to charming hotels, one of the most prestigious among them is considered the Grand Eastern Hotel. It is located in Labasa and offers its guests romantic rooms decorated in different colors. Nature lovers will be impressed by the picturesque grounds of the hotel, decorated mainly with tropical plants and flowers. The fragrant flower beds feature a swimming pool and several terraces with beautiful garden furniture. The Grand Eastern Hotel has its own restaurant, which specializes in preparing dishes from the seafood.
The Hot Springs Hotel, located in Savusavu, is a worthy competitor to this popular institution of hospitality. It is located in close proximity to the hot thermal springs, after which it gets its name. The hotel has excellent conditions for recreation, a great panoramic swimming pool, a cozy restaurant and a bar. Apart from seafood specialties the guests are offered to taste perfect homemade pizza at the restaurant. There is a worthy choice of beer and wine in the bar, as well as recreation area with billiards. Hot Springs is for all ages and its inviting setting is sure to captivate all guests.
Travelers who long for an exotic getaway will be drawn to the Daku Hotel. It is located in the immediate surroundings of Savusavu, on the territory of an extensive coconut plantation. Daku is a modern resort hotel that is ready to help guests organize a variety of recreational activities. The hotel has an excellent tour desk, water sports center, and landscaped grounds with a swimming pool and recreation areas. Rounding out this glamour is an excellent ethnic restaurant and traditional Fijian hospitality. Hotel Daku suits tourists who prefer to spend most of their time on the beach, and there are excellent snorkeling and scuba diving sites nearby.
One of the highest-class on the island is considered a hotel complex Koro Sun Hotel, he is ready to offer its guests luxurious villas, decorated in the national style. Villas are located a few steps from the coast, and some of them are equipped right over the water – on stilts. The Koro Sun Hotel has extensive grounds including a golf course, exotic garden, children’s play areas and a pool, typical of the resort hotels. Highlights of the upscale hotel include an exclusive spa, decorated in nautical style.
One of the most unusual on the island is the boutique hotel Palmlea Farms Lodge Bures. It is the recipient of a number of honorary awards for high environmental performance, distinguished by its eco-friendly hotel and unusual design. The hotel is a complex of comfortable villas finished in natural wood, the romantic look of the rooms gives an artful drapery of colorful fabrics. There’s no electricity in the hotel; the devices work exclusively by solar panels. Those who like comfortable rest don’t need to worry that the absence of usual conveniences spoil the relaxation; the hotel is perfectly equipped from the technical point of view. The theme of the restaurant fully corresponds to the direction of the hotel; dishes are cooked exclusively from farm products.
How to get there
You can only get here using local airlines from Nadi or Suva. Between the islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, as well as within one island of Viti Levu, between Nausori (near Suva) and Nadi flies the local airline Sunflower Airlines – Sun Air – as well as Air Fiji. Air Fiji operates not only local but also international flights to the islands of Tonga and Tuvalu. Flight time is less than one hour between the larger islands. The planes are so small that they fit a maximum of 10 people. Individual air transfers within Fiji can be booked with the Island Hoppers helicopter company.
- Nadi Labasa-Nadi flights cost from $166.
- Flight Nadi-Savu-Savu costs from $107 per person one way.
- Flight Nadi-Taveuni costs from $122 per person one way.
Regular ferry services are operated between Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Ovalau islands. Ferries carry passengers, cargo and vehicles.
Fiji: 7 major attractions in Fiji
Fiji is one of the most developed island nations in Oceania in terms of tourism industry. The state includes more than 300 islands, each ready to amaze travelers with its amazing beaches and lagoons. There is a lot to do here for lovers of beach and active rest.
Savusavu Tropical Gardens
Savusavu Tropical Gardens
In Savusavu just a short distance from the town of Savusavu the tropical gardens are set in five acres of awesome landscapes that are divided by rocky walkways. There are very comfortable seating areas that allow you to enjoy the view of the gardens and the bay. The main attraction of this place is the palm trees, there are 300 species of palm trees brought from all over the world.
The Garden of the Sleeping Giant
The Garden of the Sleeping Giant
This is one of the most beautiful and unique gardens located in Fiji. It carefully preserves the secrets of horticulture. The garden is home to a collection of orchids that includes 30-40 varieties and hybrids. The garden is currently open to the public. In the sleeping giant’s garden, you can walk along the beautiful lily ponds and fountains.
At Denarau Beach, the most popular pastime is windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, and other water sports. There are many dive centers here that offer organized underwater excursions. There are all-inclusive hotels along the coastline. There are many inexpensive cafes and restaurants on the beach.
The island is part of the group of famous Mamanuca Islands, it is the most popular island among travelers who prefer to vacation in Fiji. The island is located 32 kilometers west of Viti Levu, the largest archipelago in Fiji. The island has an elongated shape, with a small stretch of land between the south and north sides of the coast, so all travelers will be able to visit both sides of the island.
This village is where the locals of Fiji first embraced Catholicism. In the middle of the village is a wooden church. At the moment the village has no more than 700 inhabitants. Included here are the graves of missionaries who first landed in Fiji in the 19th century. The village is located on the island of Ovalau, its land has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is the center of crafts and culture of Fiji.
Shri Shiva Subramanya Temple
Sri Shiva Subramanya Temple
This is a Hindu temple that is considered the largest temple located in the southern hemisphere. The temple is located in the city of Nadi and is in the form of a pyramid made of blocks of different colors. The temple complex includes three structures that were built in honor of the deities Muruganu, Minaksha, and Ganesha. The height of the temple is 30 meters. The walls of the temples are decorated with ancient ornaments and images.
This center gives a unique opportunity to dive under the water and see all the inhabitants of the Gulf of Nadi. The boat journey starts from the port of Denaru and has a maximum capacity of 49 people. During the half-hour voyage you can watch the fish, view the coral reefs, marvel at sea turtles and see other marine life from the large windows of the submersible.