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NASA Space Shuttle image of Taveuni. Top of image is NW.
Elevation 1,241 m (4,072 ft)
Location Fiji
Prominence 1,241 m (4,072 ft)
Coordinates 16°49′S 179°58′W / 16.817°S 179.967°W / -16.817; -179.967
Type Elongated Shield volcano
Last eruption 1550 ± 100 yrs

Taveuni (pronounced [taβeuni]) is the third-largest island in Fiji, after Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, with a total land area of 435 square kilometers (169 Square Miles). The cigar-shaped island, a massive shield volcano which rises from the floor of the Pacific Ocean, is situated 6.5 kilometers to the east of Vanua Levu, across the Somosomo Strait, and is part of the Northern Division. It had a population of around 9,000, some 75 percent of them indigenous Fijians, at the 1996 census. Taveuni has abundant flora and is known as the 'Garden Island of Fiji'. It is a popular tourist destination.

Map of Fiji, showing Taveuni (in red) to the east of Vanua Levu



Wairiki Mission

The island of Taveuni, about 10.5 kilometers wide and 42 kilometers long, is the top of an elongated shield volcano which erupted from a northeast-southwest trending rift on the ocean floor. About 150 volcanic cones dot the island, including Uluigalau, Fiji's second highest peak at 1,241 meters, and Des Vœux Peak, next in height at 1,195 meters. There have been at least 58 volcanic eruptions since the first human settlement around 950-750 BC, all of which affected the southern two-thirds of the island. Major eruptions from 300–500 AD caused abandonment of the southern areas until about 1100 AD. The latest eruption produced a lava flow at the southern tip of the island around 1550.

Lake Tagimaucia is one of Taveuni's most famous tourist attractions. It occupies a volcanic crater at an altitude of 800 meters, and is the habitat the rare tagimaucia flower. Fiji's most famous waterfalls, the Bouma Falls, are also on the island. As much as 10 meters of rain falls annually on the eastern side of the island, but the western side is sheltered from the southeast trade winds by the ridge that runs the length of the island.

Many of Taveuni's best known attractions lie underwater though. There are three major, distinct diving areas around the island. To the north of Taveuni lie in close proximity the islands of Qamea and Matagi with their surrounding reef systems. The Rainbow Reef and Vuna Reef are famous for diving and snorkeling, respectively. The Rainbow Reef, on the western side in the narrow strait between Taveuni and Vanua Levu, is known as one of the world's premier soft coral dive areas. The horseshoe-shaped Vuna Lagoon, near the southern end of the island, is much appreciated among divers for the opportunity to see larger pelagic and schooling fish species on the exposed southern side of the reef, whereas the sheltered western parts provide pristine soft and hard coral gardens. There are plans to erect a surfing camp at Lavena Point.

Nearly all plants and animals indigenous to Fiji are found on Taveuni, which has suffered less devastation from land clearance than other areas of Fiji. The absence of the mongoose, a major predator, has also played a part in the survival on Taveuni of land crabs, the unique Fiji fruit bat, the Taveuni Silk bat, and some unique species of palm. Taveuni is also home to the Taveuni Beetle, Orange Dove and the kula parrot, and the Australian magpie, introduced to control coconut pests, has proliferated on the island. To protect Fiji's wildlife, two sanctuaries have been created on the island of Taveuni, namely the Ravilevu Nature Preserve on the east coast, and the Taveuni Forest Preserve in the middle of the island.

Bouma Falls

Of interesting note is that the island of Tagimaucia crosses the east-west Antimeridian so the north-eastern portion of the island is located at +179 degrees longitude and the south-western part at -179 degrees longitude. This is often an example that causes havoc to GIS software in which a polygon geometry around the perimeter of the island is incorrectly rendered and wraps around the globe.


The population is concentrated mostly on the more sheltered western side of the island. Halfway down the west coast is the administrative centre of Waiyevo. The largest urban area, however, comprises the twin villages of Somosomo and Naqara. As the traditional fiefdom of the Tui Cakau, one of Fiji's highest-ranked chiefs, Somosomo is regarded as the capital of the Tovata Confederacy, while Naqara, an Indo-Fijian settlement, is the island's commercial centre.


In 1643, Abel Tasman became the first European to sight Taveuni. Visibility was poor and he mistook the peaks of Taveuni to be separate islands. Historically, Vuna was considered to be the paramount village on Taveuni, but tribal warfare eventually established the supremacy of Somosomo. In the late 1860s, the Tongan warlord Enele Ma'afu, who had conquered the Lau Islands, was defeated by the Tui Cakau's army in a skirmish at Somosomo. Several islands that sided with Ma'afu were sold by Cakobau to European settlers in punishment, and their inhabitants were moved to Taveuni. The villages of Lovonivonu and Kanacea are populated by their descendants.

Na Tikina Makawa o Vuna was not defeated by Somosomo as the above statement reads. In fact, historically Taveuni was owned and controlled by two distinct Chieftainship, Tikina o Vuna from the South & one on the North of Taveuni. The Tui Cakau has his land over water opposite Taveuni island. Todate, they only have a small portion of land area within Somosomo. Besides freehold land area, the main landowners in Tevuni are still the historial people, that of Vuna & that of those from the Northern part of Taveuni. At the very least this reveals a lot of stories of what actually happened during the olden days. Somosomo todate has not got much land to boast of so where did their claim of chieftainship comes from then?

Matei Airport


Copra has been traditionally the most important crop produced on Taveuni, and has always been the staple of the local economy. In recent times farmers have mainly shifted to growing taro, kava and other speciality crops like vanilla, along with tropical fruit and coffee. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), cotton was raised on Taveuni and exported to Europe. Sugarcane was also grown for a brief period. Livestock such as sheep, cattle, and poultry are also raised, but animal husbandry lags behind crop production in economic importance. In recent times, tourism has become a contributor to the local economy, with about a dozen small resorts providing accommodation options for visitors and employment and business opportunities to the local population.

Orange dove


The Taveuni dialect of Fijian reflects Tongan influence. One of its most distinctive features is the replacement of the consonant 'k' by a glottal stop. The Tui Cakau is therefore known locally as the Tui Ca'au.

Notable Taveunians

Perhaps the best-known Taveuni resident internationally was Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau (1918 - 1993), Fiji's last Governor-General and first President, who was also Tui Cakau. The Ganilau family is a branch of the Ai Sokula clan, to which the present Tui Cakau and Cabinet Minister Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu also belongs. Another notable Taveunian is Fiji's current First Lady, Adi Salaseini Kavunono, wife of President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

See also



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Fiji : Taveuni

Taveuni is the third largest island in Fiji. It has the distinction of being one of the few places (other than Northeastern Russia and Antarctica) where the 180th meridian crosses land.


Taveuni is large enough to only support one significant settlement, the twin villages of Somosomo and Naqara. This is the location of the Meridian Cinema featured in the 2004 movie Reel Paradise.

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