The Must-Dos on Vanua Levu
Looking to explore the real Fiji away from the crowds? Then head to Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu. Far less populated than the main island of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu provides adventurous travellers with a great mix of land and water activities. Forest parks of tropical jungles, hidden waterfalls, quaint villages and characterful towns: Vanua Levu has it all for some on-land adventures. Of course, there’s always plenty of reasons to get on the water wherever you are in Fiji, and Vanua Levu has its own special reasons, whether it’s to scuba dive in the fantastic Namena Marine Reserve or swim in a beautiful swimming hole under a waterfall. Check out what you could be getting up to on the island with this list of things to do in Vanua Levu.
1. Go Diving in the Namena Marine Park
Who doesn’t want to go diving in Fiji? If you’re looking for a particularly beautiful place to scuba dive, then tour with Vanua Levu dive operators to the Namena Marine Park. What was once an overfished corner of the ocean is now thriving with tropical fish, eels, seahorses, sharks and a colourful array of coral thanks to the establishment of a marine reserve. Fishing is now forbidden in the area, making it a spectacular place to dive just off the small island of Namena Lala lying 25km (15.5miles) off Vanua Levu’s southeastern shore. If you’re looking for a base for scuba diving, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort‘s dive centre is highly revered. Nevertheless, scuba diving is readily available at all of the resorts that we list in the 10 Best Resorts on Vanua Levu where it’s almost impossible not to be impressed by any of the dive sites they take you to.
2. Explore the Town of Savusavu
It’s unlikely that you would miss the largest hub of Vanua Levu, but just in case, make sure you take a trip to Savusavu. This picturesque harbourside town is packed with authentic restaurants, eclectic watering holes and busy markets. It’s a great place to mingle with the locals and observe the life of a “large” town in Fiji. While there’s a lot going on in the town – just check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Savusavu Savusavu – somehow always feels peaceful. See why they call it the “Hidden Paradise of Fiji”.
3. Immerse in Nature at the Waisali Rainforest Reserve
Spanning 120ha (300 acres), the Waisali Rainforest Reserve is where you’ll find some of Fiji’s best flora and fauna. Take a walk through the forest looking out for colourful birds and even the native Fiji ground frog. A ranger at the entrance to the park will tell you information on the walks and what you can see in the park before you set off on the short but worthwhile hike through the forest. Good walking shoes and insect repellent are a must! Check out our 5 Best Insect Repellent for Fiji.
Alternatively (or additionally), many of the resorts have access to fantastic hikes and nature walks. Energise your senses by walking under the rainforest canopy of the Koro Sun Resort looking out for the orange-breasted barking dove before cooling off in a waterfall. Nukubati Island Resort also has a couple of attractive bush walks and a small hill with a lookout. Learn more about Vanua’s walks in 10 Best Walks in Vanua Levu, as well as more excursion ideas in The Best Day Trips on Taveuni.
4. Check Out the Town of Labasa
Vanua Levu’s second-largest town, Labasa provides a very different town experience on the island with the population predominately being Indo-Fijian. For this reason, you’ll find a great array of curry houses, shops selling interesting souvenirs and saris, and characterful shops. The town has a couple of interesting features to check out, such as the sugar mill and the sugar cane trains that run through the town. Find out more about the attractions in the 6 Best Things to Do in Labasa.
5. Visit the Vuadomo Village and Waterfall
With a rugged rainforest interior, there is no lack of beautiful waterfalls on Vanua Levu. One of the most accessible is the Vuadomo Waterfall. Located along the Cross Island Road, between Savusavu and Labasa, Vuadomo Village holds an amazing spot for swimming and taking epic photos. Pick up some kava from the market to gift as a “sevusevu” to the Vuadomo village chief, along with a FJ$10 donation for one of the villagers to take you on a tour to the impressive waterfall. Learn more with our advice on visiting a Fijian village here. For more budget experiences like this, see 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Vanua Levu.
6. Swim at the Nakawaga Waterfall
Another popular waterfalls on the island is the impressive Nakawaga Waterfall! After a short but steep climb through the jungle, you will emerge at this powerful waterfall and fun swimming hole. Just a 10-minute drive north of Savusavu, the waterfall is best accessed with a guide from the local village or as part of a tour with your resort. You should only swim to the waterfall if you are a strong swimmer.
7. Take a Tour Around a Pearl Farm
One of the more unique activities on Vanua Levu is the J Hunter Pearl Farm Tour in Savusavu Bay. Learn how fine elegant jewellery is made at this underwater pearl farm where you’ll see black-lipped oysters from a glass-bottom boat. Learn about how these fascinating sea creatures create their rare pearls with distinctive earthly colours. J Hunter also has a showroom in Savusavu where you can purchase some pearl jewellery for yourself.
8. Enjoy Culture and Relaxation at the Savusavu Hot Springs
The town of Savusavu is scattered with hot springs, most of which are on the shoreline best seen at low tide. The inland hot springs are the best place to go for the Savusavu Hot Springs experience. You’ll see how the locals use the hot springs to cook food. Alternatively, unwind in the hot spring water yourself with hot spring baths organised for visitors.
9. Dive at the Rainbow Reef
Located in the Somosomo Strait between Vanua Levu and Taveuni, the Rainbow Reef is another one of Fiji’s great diving locations. Aptly named, the Rainbow Reef has a vast array of colours within the coral reef which is fed by warm currents passing through the Strait bringing rich nutrients for marine life in the area. The reef is known for holding almost all of the types of marine species found in Fiji.
10. Visit the Flora Tropica Gardens
This small garden in the hills overlooking Savusavu is a great place to get a beautiful vantage point of Savusavu Bay. Flora Tropica Gardens offers a short walk taking about 20 minutes. Wander through tropical gardens awash with colours flowers. There’s also an impressive display of more than 300 palm species from all over the world.
11. Experience a South Pacific Fishing
There is no lack of fishing trips on Vanua Levu. Inquire at your resort reception and you’re sure to be on a fishing boat in no time. Try the traditional method of Fijian handline fishing or go big game fishing for blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, giant trevally and more (just check out What Types of Fish Can You Fish For in Fiji). Some fishing tours will take you to some great snorkelling and scenic spots around the island too.
12. Snorkel at Split Rock
Tours and resorts can take you to one of Vanua Levu’s best snorkelling spots known as Split Rock. Named due to a deep underwater chasm splitting a huge rock in half, Split Rock provides an amazing underwater ecosystem for all sorts of tropical fish. The snorkelling spot can be found just off the coast of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort outside of Savusavu. It also makes it onto our 10 Best Places to Snorkel in Fiji.
13. Take a Road Trip
Rent a car and hit the Hibiscus Highway and/or the Cross Island Road to discover the stunning island scenery and Fijian villages that this island has to offer. Drive to La Dolca Vita to see the largest bay in the South Pacific, discover more hot springs near the village of Daria, or watch the sunset from the end of the Hibiscus Highway at Buca Bay. Check out car rental recommendations in The Best Car Rentals on Vanua Levu.
14. Treat Your Loved One to a Private Dinner in a Candlelit Sea Cave, Beside a Waterfall or a Secluded Sandbank
To celebrate a special occasion or “just because” indulge in a private destination dining experience. At the Namela Resort & Spa, there are some truly romantic locations to enjoy such as beside a picturesque waterfall. Sit at a private table on the beach at Nukubati Private Island while dining under the Milky Way. Or how about a private table at the end of a secluded jetty at The Remote Resort? At the Savasi Island Resort, their sea cave lit by candles is another unique location. Need we go on? For more experiences like this, check out 10 Romantic Activities on Vanua Levu for Couples.
15. Watch Dolphins and Snorkel on a Dolphin Cruise
Who doesn’t get excited by dolphins?! Join a dolphin cruise with resorts such as La Dolce Vita Holiday Villas, Savasi Island and Koro Sun Resort who offer dolphin sighting and snorkelling cruises within the pristine Natewa Bay. See bottlenose and spinner dolphins close-up in their natural playground on these exciting tours that are also great to take the little ones on. The tour the La Dolce will end with a pizza dinner. For more activities like this, take a look at 10 Things to Do on Vanua Levu with Kids.
16. Mingle with the Locals at the Savusavu and Labasa Markets
A fantastic cultural and foodie experience is mingling with the locals at the produce markets in Labasa and Savusavu. As well as fruit and vegetables, Vanua Levu specialities include cassia bark (cinnamon), wild honey, bush dhaniya (coriander), avocado, fresh mullet, cabacaba lobster and sici shells. The markets in Savusavu and Labasa are located by their town centre bus stations on the waterfront. See more experiences like this in our 10 Things to Do on Vanua Levu for Foodies.
17. Take Part in a Yoga or Wellness Retreat
Getting a refresh is all part of a Fiji getaway, which you can fully take advantage of at accommodations like Naveria Heights Lodge. The boutique lodge offers three wellness programs: Detox, Wellness and Weight Loss. Koro Sun Resort is also a popular venue for retreats, whether it’s surrounding fitness, art, wellness or yoga. Or how about a yoga retreat on the Daku Fiji Resort‘s dedicated yoga deck? Finally, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort offers free morning yoga sessions at sunrise.
18. Take the Kids to One of the Fun and Educational Kids’ Clubs
While some might think that a kids’ club is a place to throw your children in and run, things are a little different here on Vanua Levu. The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort provides an educational and award-winning kids’ club promising to be a meaningful experience for children. Another option is the Jungle Kids Club at the Koro Sun Resort where activities include rainforest hikes, Fijian cultural activities, arts and crafts, tidal pool exploration, snorkelling (7+ years) and more!
19. Enjoy an Educational Visit to a Fijian Village
The Fijian culture is extremely accessible on Vanua Levu thanks to the abundance of villages found all over the mainland and off-shore islands. Join The Remote Resort or Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat for a short boat trip to a Fijian village without power but a whole lot of energy in their cultural dance performance known as a “meke”. Attend a church service or learn a little Fijian at a village with Savasi Island Resort. Get a glimpse of life at the Vivilli Village near Namale Resort & Spa, and the list goes on. Find out more about visiting a Fijian village here.
20. Rejuvenate with a Fijian Bobo Massage
“Fiji time” is all about relaxation and rejuvenation, so it would almost be a crime to not get a Fijian massage while on Vanua Levu. Resorts such as Nukubati Private Island have therapists from local villages who are experts in the traditional Fijian Bobo massage. Experience it for yourself in their massage bure, privately in your bure, or on the beach at sunset. Namale Resort & Spa, on the other hand, features in our 10 Best Spas in Fiji for having one of the most impressive spa complexes in Fiji. See more spa options with our 7 Best Spas on Vanua Levu.