Kissed by Bligh Water, Somosomo Strait and the South Pacific Ocean, Vanua Levu is as varied as the waters that surround Fiji’s second largest island. The large body of water between Fiji’s two largest islands Vanua Levu and Viti Levu is known as Bligh Water. It was so named after the legend that Captain William Bligh navigated these waters having been cast adrift in a longboat by Bounty mutineers far to the east. Indeed, some of the same navigational hazards that Bligh would have encountered back in the 1700’s exist today as the waters surrounding the Lau Group to the southeast of Vanua Levu remain mostly unsurveyed
Arriving by air, most visitors will land at Savusavu in the south, though there’s also an airport at Labasa (pronounced Lam-basa) in the north. Savusavu is also the major marine port for the island as well as being a central hub for the southern part of the island. The waterfront is often dotted with cruising yachts anchored in the sheltered inlet of Savusavu Bay.
A large elongated peninsula reaches out into the Somosomo strait, luring divers to the richly coloured coral gardens draped across reef that lines the channel. Appearing regularly on ‘Best Dive’ lists across the globe, the region is known as the ‘Soft Coral Capital of the World’ thanks to warm fertile currents providing perfect conditions that encourage corals to thrive. Small villages and resorts are dotted along the coast road. If you’re looking for a peaceful beachfront existence brushed by south east trade winds along with an immersion in local village life, you’d be hard pressed to find a better location to chill out.
The bustling town market of Labasa in the north is a splendid introduction to rural Fijian life. Beside a busy bus station where colourful buses seem to linger endlessly, and a fascinating fresh produce market, patient locals and adventurous travellers await their bus while watching the world slip by ever so sedately.
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