With the world-renowned reefs of Taveuni Island on the nearby horizon, it can be easy to overlook Vanua Levu’s underwater attractions – which include more of the very same coral-carpeted walls and reefs. Vanua Levu has its own Shark Alley (swimthroughs hosting some local white-tip reef sharks) and Magic Mountain (a large coral-and-sponge adorned pinnacle that reaches within 12 feet of the surface) – just a sampling of seldom-seen dive sites along the barrier reef between Vanua Levu and Taveuni.
Wahoo, yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin … the stuff of deep- water dreams swim through Fiji’s blue waters year-round. May through August is arguably the best big-game season, and while the country’s main charter fleet operates out of the main island of Viti Levu (often heading for the waters off the island’s southern and southwestern coasts) smaller outfitters are available through- out the island chain, including some resorts that operate their own boats.
Vacationing at a fine resort certainly has its rewards, but staying at a Fijian village is a window to real Fijian life that shouldn’t be limited to savvy backpackers. There are numerous villages all around Vanua Levu, tours are easy to arrange, and some villages offer stays on a more or less regular basis. But it’s also common to be invited to stay in a village by a relatively new acquaintance, and perhaps because visitors here are not all that common, the villagers themselves are notably welcoming even for friendly Fiji. Bring a traditional gift of yaqona root (kava) for the village chief, and slip into a simpler life-style.