September 20, 2020;7:17 PM
16◦ 43’.806 S ; 179◦ 44’ W Taveuni, Fiji
This is Anne. You know me as the Admiral. I love Kristen’s blogs because she so eloquently describes the experiences and feelings of all of us on Amazing Grace. But today I just have to tell you about a place that feels like a piece of heaven right here on earth. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets, a crystal-clear ocean, amazing underwater creatures too many to count, mountainous jungles covered with the greenest and most beautiful plants I have ever seen, magnificent waterfalls, and people who treat all others with kindness, love and respect. This is the island of Taveuni, Fiji.
We and our friends on Maximillian sailed across the Somosomo straits to Taveuni on September 15 and lost no time in going ashore once we had set the anchor. We hired taxis and stopped at the sign at the 180th parallel (International Date Line). We were easily amused hopping from yesterday to today and back again.
We continued to the Waitavala Water Slide, which the First Mate and I have been looking forward to for weeks. We expected hysterical great fun, like I had experienced at North Carolina’s Sliding Rock as a child, and were not disappointed. After a short hike we were rewarded with cool, clean water rushing over smooth boulders through a series of small waterfalls and pools. We a bit anxiously contemplated the safety of sliding down the smooth rock on our bums. Fortunately, some guys soon showed up who were returning to their childhood home. They took the first slides, pointing out where to begin below the top fall (which is too dangerous even for the locals). Even though the low water level made the slide not as fast as they remembered as kids, they went down hooping and hollering. We quickly followed; laughing, screaming and loving every minute.
The next day we hired our same taxi drivers to take us along the coast between the mountains and the sea to the water falls at Bouma, on the other side of the island. The drive was beautiful. We crossed many streams, most of which were in the middle of small villages. The people in the villages seemed glad to see us and waved and shouted “Bula”, which means hello in Fijian. The gravel road we were on is the only way to access the villages. The people in the villages each use their talents and labor for the good of the village, and each village is mostly sustainable on its own. They seem so full of joy.
After an hour ride in the taxis we arrived at the Tovora Falls visitor center, which is really a home on the outskirts of Bouma. The woman of the home welcomed us and offered to have a Fijian lunch ready for us after our hike. We heartily accepted, because it was a long ride back to the nearest restaurant. The three-hour rain forest hike was glorious, as was swimming in the pools of the three water falls that we came to. The first waterfall was perhaps my favorite place I have ever been. The 80-foot fall rushes into a pool about 20 yards in diameter; big enough to do some laps! The area was covered in beautiful ferns, plants and trees and on one side were huge bushes of red ginger flowers.
The rest of the hike was great and the other two falls were also beautiful. We were impressed that the path was well marked and maintained, unlike the other hikes we have been on in the last few months. It was refreshing to cool off every 30 minutes or so in the pools. A great respite from the salt water in which we virtually live! Lunch was ready when we returned and it was delicious, made from things on hand from the garden.
The wind came up and we suffered a night of very little sleep because of rolling waves. The next morning, we decided that we needed to move back to our quiet anchorage across the straits in Viani Bay. We had a nice sail and a delicious and relaxing dinner. Maximillian served delicious spaghetti and meatballs and good red wine, and we came back to the boat feeling relaxed and blessed. And boy, did we sleep well that night!
September 18 we all went diving again on the Rainbow Reef. The Enchanted Forest was a drift dive through some beautiful soft and hard corals and many fish. I thought the prettiest spot was a wall of orange and purple fish and corals, but the current was so fast there that we did a “fly by” and none of us got to see it as well as we wanted. Pandora’s Box was special because there was very little current and our guide said that we could all just explore on our own as long as we kept in sight. We all finished this dive saying it was magical, and so wonderful to just relax and be with the fish and beautiful coral. The highlight sightings of the dives were a blue-ribbon eel, a clown trigger fish, a trapezia coral crab, “Dory”, and a huge blowfish.
At every turn in Fiji I am blessed by not only the stunning nature but also the kind and generous people. Like in Tahiti, church services are filled with beautiful, worshipful music sung by large choirs making up most of the congregation. The joyful native people here welcome us with smiles and open arms. They are quick to laugh and glad to be of service. Heaven on earth.
Admiral, Amazing Grace
TLDR: Swimming with the First Mate and Captain in waterfalls, especially in the rainforest, is the BEST!