Worth getting out of bed for
Free activities at Taveuni Palms include swimming off your small private beach, kayaking around the island, great solo or guided snorkelling on the house reef and bikes for exploring. Foodies can take a cooking class with the chef to learn how to make the villa’s papaya soup, cassava chips and coconut pesto dip; nimble-fingered guests can craft flower leis (garlands) or head decorations. Too taxing? The groundsmen will climb a tree to fetch you a fresh coconut to savour by the pool.
At extra cost, spa treatments on your terrace are a must, using Pure Fiji products and a mix of island and global massage styles. Book after breakfast for daily pampering from 8am to 5pm. Taveuni Island’s waters are considered the soft-coral capital of the world, so diving here is a thrill, with rainbow-bright reef fish, and possible turtle, ray and dolphin sightings. The hotel can hook you up with a PADI-certified operator, Taveuni Ocean Sports, for dives or courses, including striking sites such as Rainbow Reef, the Great White Wall and the Yellow Grotto. Guided snorkelling tours to further flung reefs or surfing trips to ride offshore breaks are also up for grabs.
Popular excursions include horse riding from Vuna, with scenic mountain and island views, and a trip to the Waitabu Marine Park to the east, where beaches, snorkelling and bilibili river rafting await, as well as a village visit. Walks taking in beaches, rivers, rainforest and waterfalls include the spectacular Lavena Coastal Walk (which can be teamed with kayaking), the Bouma Falls Hike and the more demanding Vidawa Rainforest Walk, with transport, guides and gear included. En route you’ll spy rare tropical birds and fauna, and you can cool off in rock pools or picnic when you need a break. For more cultural experiences, check out local villages, mission churches or the International Date Line, which runs through a landmark on Taveuni.
Offshore, set sail on excursions to Taveuni’s outlying islands Qamea, Matangi and Laucala, catch your own tuna or walu on a deep-sea fishing foray or get romantic with a private picnic and snorkelling session on Nanuku Atoll, aka the Honeymoon Island (the captain will drop you off with tasty treats, so you can enjoy the island alone). Golfers can tee off at the Soqulu Golf & Country Club, a 40-minute drive away, which offers a beautiful nine-hole course strung along the coast, as well as tennis courts, lawn bowls and a clubhouse for a drink or snack afterwards. Those seeking a retail fix can visit the local black pearl farm to see how these oyster-born treasures are cultivated in their ocean nursery and bag some to take home. CIVA Pearl Farm is known for its amazing range of colours, from gold to pink, blue and cranberry, not produced anywhere else. You can also peruse brochures from Savusavu’s respected J Hunter Pearls in the villa reception.
With amazing, all-inclusive meals at Taveuni Palms, you’re unlikely to stray in search of food, but if you’re looking for somewhere to eat before or after arrival, try Restaurant Tramonto (+679 888 2224), on nearby Prince Charles Beach west of Matei Airport. The Brit royal once took a dip here, hence the moniker, and you can enjoy princely pizza and chilled-out ocean views. Coast-hugging guesthouse eatery Coconut Grove Restaurant (+679 888 0328) is a more authentic Fijian affair, with fish, meat, soup, salads and regular buffets, washed down with sea views.
Taveuni is pretty quiet, with island-hopping rather than bar-cruising the norm here, so we suggest you stick with cocktails on your villa deck.
Meet a local character, enjoy a sugar hit and even sample some free Kahlua shots at informal Audrey’s Island Café and Pastries (+679 888 0039), where your eponymous US-born host welcomes visitors for delicious home-made cake and coffee on the porch of her village house (her chocolate cake is to die for). Audrey’s is a five-minute stroll east of the hotel opposite Audrey’s Beach, and with only one road, you can’t really miss it.