Thursday, August 8, 2013


We had a beautiful sail across the Nanuku Passage from Vanua Balavu to Taveuni. We invetigated the harbor at Vurevure, but it seemed a bit too exposed to the southeasterly prevailing winds, and was filled with pearl farm buoys. So we carried on another couple of hours to the northeastern tip of the island, near the town of Matei and the island's principal airport. We had been given the name of a local man who likes to guide cruisers around (for a reasonable fee). We immediately hit it off with Wani, who told us he was the chief of nearby Wiwi village. One of the first places we wanted to visit was the Italian restaurant, where we had heard there was great pizza. Wani told us his daughter Lydia worked there! There is a lot of protected forest on Taveuni, and villagers have developed several ecotourism projects to help generate revenue. This helps to offset some of the income lost by not developing the land, harvesting the forest, or clearing it for agriculture. We were only too happy to contribute to this cause. We hiked a beautiful trail through the forest to two waterfalls. On the way back down, we stopped to admire the view over the reefs, with Qamea Island in the background. We spent the rest of the day shopping for produce and other provisions, and realized we needed at least one more day to see more of this beautiful island. Wani wanted us to see the plaque commemorating the location of the 180th meridian of longitude. While this is the designated "International Dateline" it runs right through Taveuni and the rest of Fiji, so for convenience they observe a single date and time zone throughout the country. Still, the plaque makes for an intriguing stop! We passed a school, and Vicki lost no time meeting some of the local students. We had mentioned to Wani that we were interested in seeing the orange dove and other endemic birds of Fiji. So he drove us down a long and very rough road to reach "Nabogiono Farms" a private estate that the owner inherited from his grandfather. Bobby Shankaran was a delightful and informative guide, filled with passion for conserving the natural resources he has grown up with. He is self-educated, and is constantly researching ways to restore bird habitat, and to derive agricultural outputs and income from the forest without damaging it. We really enjoyed our time with him and hope to return here at some point. Bobby's dream is to develop a "Ridge to Reef" conservation project, and we want to learn more about this project. We could easily have stayed longer on Taveuni, but the weather was changing, and our anchorage at Matei had become a little less comfortable. We decided it was time to seek better shelter in Viani Bay, across the Somosomo Strait.

No comments: