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Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. In Suva, the rain buckets down. Clouds cling to the hills.
“Don’t worry,” the Pacific Sun Twin Otter pilot says at Nausori Airport as the big wet pours on the runway. “It’s fine up in Taveuni.”
Forty-five minutes from Suva’s gloom, the Twin Otter circles and descends above Somosomo Strait.
It’s a different world up here. Taveuni Island sparkles out to the right in bright sunshine. Matei Airport is fine and clear for landing.
Fewer than five minutes from the airport is Ric and Do Cammick’s award-winning Taveuni Island Resort and Spa.
This has been rated “the most beautiful small resort in the world” by a writer for the famous English newspaper The Times.
There have been many similar accolades.
They are deserved, for this is a special place in a country where there are many special places.
But how have the Cammicks and their famous little resort fared after Cyclone Tomas?
Four Canadians have just checked in.
They sit on the wide verandah of the resort’s dining area above the cliff. The view sweeps spectacularly across Somosomo Strait to nearby Vanua Levu, and Kioa and Rabi islands.
The Canadians are the first guests since Tomas battered Taveuni and nearby islands two weeks earlier.
The grounds are pristine.
The infinity pool on the clifftop is ready to use. Down below the sandy beach is warm and welcoming.
The Canadians drink welcoming champagne. They are happy already. They came to “chill out”. Taveuni Island Resort, they have already decided, is just perfect.
By the next day more guests will have arrived. An Australian couple are flying in to marry at the resort.
They had wondered whether they should go elsewhere in the wake of the cyclone.
No need to worry. There are now few signs Tomas blasted by.
The Cammicks, their family and 35 staff have worked dawn to dark daily to get their resort back to as it was.
The only obvious tell-tale signs nearby now are trees inland stripped of their foliage.
The recovery effort typifies the hands-on effort and attention to detail which make this resort, well, so perfect. This attention has helped build Taveuni Island Resort a reputation attracting guests from around the world.
Ric and Do Cammick – and other resort and tourism operators on Taveuni – want you to know they are very much back in business.
No matter whether you are one of those from Suva who come up to explore and enjoy Fiji’s Garden Island.
Or from the other side of the world, like the guests who come from as far away as Russia. You’re welcome.
Why do so many people from so many places find their way to Taveuni Island Resort?
On the Internet you find answers. Guests write glowingly about the experience.
On tripadvisor.com TravelToLiveToday, from Chicago, USA, sums it up well, after a recent visit. TravelToLiveToday gives a fair indication of what to expect, in writing:
A swinging bridge crosses a deep river canyon, then further on the trail swings inland up a river valley where you can put on your bathing suit and swim to a cool deep pool surrounded by high rock walls and lush rainforest.
As you swim deeper into the grotto, two beautiful waterfalls cascade.
You can climb up onto them and slide or jump into the deep water below.
This walk takes approximately one and half hours each way, and you will need at least an hour or two to explore, relax and enjoy the natural beauty of this area.
Instead of walking to the falls, it is possible to do the entire journey from the park entrance to the waterfalls and back, by boat.
Wairiki Catholic Mission Church,
Date Line and Soqulu Plantation
For a day on the land, take the West Coast Tour which begins with a visit to the dateline (180 meridian) where you can stand in both today, and yesterday. Taveuni Island was the first place to experience the birth of the New Millennium, here the New Day begins!
Continue on to the Wairiki Catholic Mission School to view the amazing architecture of the stone church built in 1907.
Go down to Soqulu Plantation for a game of golf or tennis, followed by a beer at the Country Club bar.
If you are adventurous, you could venture to the southernmost tip of Taveuni, to Vuna, where, when the tide is right you will see the amazing blowholes in action.
On the way back, if you have a four wheel drive, you can go part way up the road to Lake Tagimoucia which is an extinct volcanic crater at the highest point of Taveuni.
Although the lake is often covered with cloud, the fact that the rare and exquisite Tagimoucia flower blooms here once a year, makes it well worth a visit at that time. On the way home, cool off at the Waitavala Natural Stone Waterslides which is another of nature’s natural wonders.
Waitabu Marine Park
This area of Taveuni has recently been awarded the “International British Airways Eco-Tourism Award”
The Waitabu Villagers are proud of this marine and cultural experience they have worked so hard to establish.
The visit includes snorkelling in the marine reserve.
Vidawa Forest Walk
This trip takes a full day and you need to love tramping and be fit.
You start at the Vidawa Village and hike through the spectacular rainforest of this area.
The walk concludes at the Bouma Falls where you can relax and swim in the crystal clear, cool water.