Vanua Levu

A Secluded Escape & Fiji’s Best-Kept Secret

 

An island away from the hustle and bustle of Viti Levu, lies Vanua Levu, a tropical sanctuary untarnished by tourism.

It might be the second largest island in Fiji, but Vanua Levu is an isolated escape unlike any other. With majestic coral reefs, protected vigorously by the locals, vast swathes of rainforest vegetation and the odd five-star resort in Savusavu, this is Fiji living as both nature and you intended. Adventure travellers will be spoilt for choice with the abundance of adrenaline-pumping activities on offer including river tubing through jungle valleys, mountain biking, forest hiking, snorkelling and diving, just to name a few. Whether you choose the wilderness of Savusavu or just want to explore the Indian cultural hub that is Labasa, Vanua Levu will catapult you headfirst into the Fijian way of life.

Birthplace of William Ryder

Vanua Levu is the birthplace of one of Fiji’s contemporary rugby stars, William Ryder. Beloved by the nation, he is a try-scoring machine and has been a key leader in the Fijian national sevens side’s dominance of the sport in recent memory. Famed for his ability to wrong-foot opponents, every Fijian has heard of him and children spend hours on the beach trying to recreate his greatest moments on the field.

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Highlights of Vanua Levu

Whether it’s on land or under the sea, Vanua Levu has a host of activities just for you. Protected coral reefs, an underwater pearl farm and active hot springs are just some of the many untapped gems that Vanua Levu holds.
 

Namena Marine Reserve

The Fijian locals are famed for their commitment to preservation and sustainability, and the Namena Marine Reserve is no exception. Home to some of the most endangered species of sea life and coral in the world, this marine reserve is a mecca established to protect the Fijian natural wonders from destruction. Book a diving trip with Namena Divers for the chance to marvel at the unparalleled biodiversity, encounter hawksbill and green sea turtles, as well as thousands of remarkable fish and coral species in a kaleidoscope of colours. Keep an eye out for the main attraction – humpback whales – since it is Fiji’s only known humpback whale calving site.

 

Nakawaga Waterfall, Savusavu

There’s nothing like the lightning fast rivers of Vanua Levu that pulse across the jagged, volcanic rocks which create some beautiful waterfalls like the spectacular Nakawaga Waterfall. Even the locals are awe-struck by its majesty and are only too happy to guide you through the jungle to find it. Once there, they’ll most likely join you for a dip in the crystal clear waters – a relaxing and refreshing way to while away any hot, summer afternoon. Most resorts in Vanua Levu including Koro Sun Resort offer guided hike excursions to the waterfall – be sure to take your swimsuits!

 

Pearl Farm Tour Savusavu

They say the world is your oyster and in Savusavu, that saying rings too true at the J Hunter Underwater Pearl Farm. Book into an educational tour to immerse yourself into the history of pearling in Fiji and learn about the complex process of growing pearl oysters to produce these prized gems. Visit during seeding season (April to May and October to November) to watch the precision of the pearl technicians that operate on the oysters to start the process of creating an authentic Fijian pearl. To go the extra mile, bring your own snorkeling gear for an up close and personal look at the oysters along with the giant clam site, home to the at-risk bivalve mollusk.


More Things to Do in Vanua Levu

 
 

Waisali Rainforest Reserve, Labasa

Since Vanua Levu is considerably less developed than Viti Levu, it’s the perfect spot for a hike. There’s no better place for that than the Waisali Rainforest Reserve which covers a significant portion of the island (a good 300 acres). The dense jungle thicket is home to birds, small critters and a number of plants used in local medicinal remedies (check with your guide before trying one yourself). To enter the park, head north out of Savusavu along the road to Labasa - most bus and taxi drivers know the way.

 

Labasa Markets, Labasa

Home to a thriving Indian population, Labasa is the best place to taste the flavours and spice of the subcontinent. Indians first came to Fiji in 1879 to work on British sugarcane plantations. As a result, the area has a host of Indian traditions that have been incorporated into the market with a range of curries, spices and spectacular jewellery available. Not only is it a great way to shop, there’s really no other way to experience the local hustle and bustle.

 

Dolphin Watching Natewa Bay

Could anything be more divine than spending a morning with dolphins? Vanua Levu’s picturesque Natewa Bay is the South Pacific’s largest bay and home to two pods of spinner dolphins. Spend a day spotting these magnificent water-dwelling creatures via guided boat trips with Lomalgi Resort or Koro Sun Resort. Finish your trip with some remote snorkelling on one of the many pristine coral mantles in the bay and bask in the unique surroundings of this natural ecosystem and island coastline.


Where to Stay in Vanua Levu

Vanua Levu might be less developed than Viti Levu but its accommodation options are anything but. Whether you're in the mood for a sociable, backpacker hostel in Labasa or want to be pampered to the nth degree at a five-star resort in Savusavu, Vanua Levu has got you covered.

Food & Drink in Vanua Levu

Savusavu tends to have the most options including fine dining facilities but no matter where you go in Vanua Levu, the local flavours are definitely alive. Keep your eyes peeled for the Indian and Chinese joints that populate the island. 
Captain’s Table, Savusavu

Known for its creative Indian fare, this simple yet elegant restaurant serves up some unconventional dishes like chicken stuffed with spinach. For something safe, try the adjacent Captain’s Table Cafe for pizza, pancakes and sandwiches. It’s also a beautiful location with views right across the bay.

Surf and Turf, Savusavu

Easily the fanciest restaurant in Savusavu, this upscale eatery has an exquisite range of options for even the pickiest of diners. Pastas and curries are great if you want to keep your meal affordable. Alternatively, splash out on the lobster and wine list. Don’t forget to try dessert – the homemade ice-cream is to die for.

Colour Dragon, Labasa

Labasa might be a little thin on the ground in terms of dining but Colour Dragon stands above the rest in the locals’ minds. Cheap, delicious Chinese food is available including the usual suspects like sweet and sour chicken and black bean beef. The restaurant is also renowned for its lightning-fast service, unheard of in a country that adheres to the concept of ‘Fiji time.

Mum's Country Kitchen, Savusavu

Hole-in-the-wall places are always the ones favoured by the locals and this Indian joint is no exception. The specialties are, needless to say, authentic curries that are bursting with flavour. Those of you who have a penchant for extreme spice are in luck – the staff have a knack for creating really spicy dishes. 


How to Get to & Around Vanua Levu

From Nadi - The easiest way to get to Vanua Levu is via direct flights from Nadi to Labasa or Savusavu.
Domestic Flights 

Fiji Link is the official domestic carrier of Fiji, offering cheap domestic flights to 12 exciting destinations Labasa and Savusavu.

Plane Transfers 

Daily charter flights from Nadi to Savusavu are also available via Island Hoppers, ideal for travellers who want to minimise transfer time. These flights have large cargo pods for surfboards, fishing rods and dive gear. 


Once you reach Labasa or Savusavu, most resorts offer transfers to their particular location so check with your accommodation for details and to arrange pickup. Getting around Vanua Levu is relatively easy and often, your day trip providers will include transport transfers to sightseeing areas and attractions.
 
Local bus

Another great way to mix with the locals and see the island is via the local bus. Be warned – they can be slow with seemingly random timetables so ask the locals for advice before catching one. Many of the roads are unsealed so be prepared for a bumpy ride.


Practical Travel Tips for Vanua Levu

Footwear and Clothing

Many of the activities in Vanua Levu are located in rainforest areas so be sure to wear appropriate footwear and clothing. Don’t forget to read all signs and take appropriate precautions to protect yourself and the local flora and fauna. Remember to wear plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent.

Road Conditions 

If you choose to hire a car, drive carefully. Most of the roads on Vanua Levu are unsealed and considerably bumpy. They are also not as widespread or receive as regular maintenance as the roads on Viti Levu so be sure to factor that in when choosing an appropriate vehicle to hire.



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