Waitavala Water Slides: A Quick Guide to This Fun Taveuni Attraction!

Allison Green going down the Waitavala Water slides while on vacation in Taveuni, Fiji

Just a short drive from the main town of Somosomo on Taveuni, Fiji is one of the locals’ favorite spots: the Waitavala Water Slides.

Don’t get it twisted with the name: this isn’t anything close to your average water slide!

Rather, it’s a naturally occurring set of waterfalls that have created a flowing natural “chute” in the rock that you can careen down, pushed by the flow of the waterfall.

This is a small ‘waterfall’ though — not like Tavoro Falls, Wainibau Falls, and definitely nothing like Savulelele!

Set amidst the tropical backdrop of Taveuni, the Garden Island, you’ll find this spot nearly empty on weekdays and populated with a handful of local families on weekends, enjoying the pools.

The kids especially love accompanying tourists down the slides, telling you exactly how to go down the slides — and in my case, begging to come with me on my next trip down the slides!

How To Get to the Waitavala Water Slides

Sign for Waitavala water slides at the entrance to the park area

The easiest way to reach the Waitavala Water Slides in Fiji is by booking a taxi, who will wait for you at the slides while you enjoy them, and then bring you back to your hotel.

We stayed in Matei, and we were able to arrange a taxi to bring us to Waitavala Water Slides with a quick stop in Somosomo at the ATM (the only one on the island!). 

You could also rent a car with Aloha Taveuni Rentals, which is well-reviewed, but we didn’t do this while visiting Taveuni.

We generally found that taxis offered an easier and more enjoyable experience, even visiting further afield places like Tavoro Waterfalls and the Lavena Coastal Walk, because those need 4×4 sturdy cars.

We also were diving the Rainbow Reef every day so we had to use our afternoons wisely!

For the roundtrip between Waitavala and our hotel in Matei, we paid $50 FJD (about $22 USD) for the roundtrip ride and wait time.

The drive from Matei (we stayed at Maravu Taveuni Lodge) takes about 20 minutes to navigate the 15 kilometers.

You could also theoretically take the local bus and ask to be let off near the water slides, or at one of the villages nearby (Waiyevo/Tavuki), but I didn’t try this.

The parking lot where you can find the trailhead to the Waitavala Water Slides is near the Taveuni Corrections Centre, located between Waiyevo and Tavuki villages. 

Hiking to Waitavala Water Slide

Allison walking to the water slides in Waitavala

Once you reach the parking lot for the water slides, it’s a really easy hike to get to the water slides.

I did the firs half in a dress and Birkenstocks, so you can see how easy it is to get to the main pool area.

It’s about a 10 minute walk to the first pool (which is where you end when you finish the water slide) and then a little further to the place where you start the slide.

The first 10 minutes is really easy, a simple meandering yet well-trodden path with a few steps here and there.

Once you reach the natural pool, it gets a tiny bit tougher. You have to cross the stream, which has a rope to help you cross, but the rocks are still sort of slippery.

After crossing the stream section, you’ll hike on a less well-trodden path, a little more jungly and unkempt. It’s about a 5-minute walk from here if you’re a quick walker, or 10 minutes if you are more careful.

Once you see a larger waterfall, you’re at the place where the Waitavala Water Slide starts! 

Don’t go up this waterfall – instead, look to your right and you’ll see the pools where you can begin the slide. 

Especially if you visit on the weekends, you’ll likely find local kids ready to show you exactly how it’s done!

Is the Waitavala Water Slide Safe?

Allison in a red bathing suit going down the water slide in Taveuni

As a natural water slide, the Waitavala Water Slide is not built with safety in mind… because it’s natural, not man-made.

This means that you are at the mercy of nature when you traverse the water slides (which the signs around you in the parking lot warn you!). 

I will say from my personal experience that I did the Waitavala Water Slide twice and I enjoyed it both times and felt like it was pretty safe.

However, you do have to be careful in a few different ways. Don’t lay down too much or you risk bumping your head on the rock. 

Also, don’t put your hands out to catch yourself. To avoid the instinct to do so, cross your arms over your chest.

The most likely injury on water slides and caves is breaking a finger, which incidentally, my friend did on a water slide in the ATM Cave when she put out a hand to catch herself. 

I will also say that I visited Fiji at the very end of August, which is in the middle of dry season.

Wet season in Fiji runs from November through April, and the water slides may not be safe during this time, depending on how much rain Taveuni has recently had. 

view looking towards the pools of Waitavala in Fiji

This is why I recommend going with a taxi driver (or even a guide if you want) to bring you there — they will tell you if it is safe enough to go on the slides. 

Also, you should definitely be prepared to get a little bumped up! You’ll definitely want to wear some sort of pants or shorts to keep your legs from getting scratched by the rocks.

I was fine in my bathing suit on top, but you may also want to want a rash guard or some sort if you want protection for your back, arms, and shoulders.

What is the Waitavala Water Slide Like?

Allison on the natural water chutes in Waitavala Water Slides in Taveuni, with a little girl cheering her on as she goes down the waterfall in the lush green area

Once you reach the top point for the Waitavala Water Slide, you’ll start in the first pool and ready yourself to go down the chute, polished by the tumble of water over the centuries. 

Gently lean back (without laying back so far that you risk bumping your head) and surrender to the run of water — it’ll drop you in a refreshingly cold pool, at which point, you’ll make your way to the next chute. 

There’s one particular area where the chute gets very narrow, making you go quite fast and adding to the thrill of the natural toboggan ride!

At the end of the water slide, you’ll reach the cold pool where a lot of people are relaxing. 

Swim or walk up to the natural pool, grab the rope that helps you anchor yourself, and go for another spin if you’re up to it!

Savulelele Waterfall: Complete Guide to Visiting Fiji’s Tallest Falls!

The waterfall of Savulelele as seen in a horizontal position with a calm swimming pool at the base of the falls

The road to Savulelele Waterfall, Fiji’s tallest, is long and remote: the kind of remote that makes you regret watching movies like Wrong Turn.

But above all, it’s dusty. Reddish dust from the occasional car lingers in the air, coating your car like a layer of smoke as you traverse the slowly-rising road into the mountains.

Finally, after endless roads, reach the remote village of Nabalasere, which protects the beautiful waterfalls of Savulelele like an ancient, human guardian.

The dusty road that leads to the village of Savulelele Waterfall, with green foliage and a bunch of houses on the hillside

I cannot tell you how many times I thanked God — who took corporeal form as a Budget car rental employee at the Nadi airport — for upgrading us for free from a cruddy rental sedan to a 4×4 truck that (in another stroke of fate!) was actually automatic. 

We really needed it: from the potholes in the road to the chunks of gravel that could nearly be classified as gravel, having a 4×4 car as our rental in Fiji was truly a godsend.

It was one that we’d only come to appreciate more when we saw where we stayed in Volivoli, but more on that later…

Allison Green wearing a hat, sweater, and overalls, standing next to a large pickup truck while visiting Fiji

All hyperbole and long road rants aside, visiting Savulelele is one of the most rewarding things to do in Fiji. 

We had seen several waterfalls on the island of Taveuni during our time there.

We traversed the path to admire the the three Bouma Waterfalls and the Wainibau Waterfall at the Lavena Coastal Walk… but nothing compares to Savulelele.

Allison Green in her shoes and hiking clothes near savulelele waterfall

And honestly, no waterfall I’ve ever seen up close compares to it.

The closest comparison I could make it some of the waterfalls that you can see on a helicopter tour of Kauai, when you pass over the Weeping Wall.

But still, you can’t get out and really see the waterfalls. Here, you can… and then some!

Getting to Savulelele Waterfall

The road to savuelele with a bridge going over a waterway and then very dusty, gravel road up ahead of the end of the bridge

Like I said, the roads to get to this waterfall is best traversed in a 4×4.

Is it possible to go in a sedan? Possibly, but not without either Fijian oversized sense of confidence in the power of your car, or a lot of anti-anxiety techniques.

If you’re visiting from Rakiraki on a dive trip, like we were, it takes about 2.5 hours to get there — and those first 30 minutes are on the King’s/Queen’s Highway, and the full two hours is like an endless chair massage down chaotically unmaintained roads.

The village of Nabulesere once you reach the town where the waterfalls are

Reaching Nabalasere feels like this impossible touchpoint, and at times, you’ll wonder if you’re even on the right path… until you see a sign that points you in the direction of Savulelele Waterfall, giving you a bit more hope.

The kilometers tick down slowly, but once you really arrive, I promise you, it’s fully worth it.

Oh, and if you’re not from the UK/Australia/NZ, get used to driving on the opposite side of the road too! 

Costs of Visiting Savulelele Waterfall

The massive height of Savulelele Waterfall as seen from afar, looking at the scale of the magnificent waterfall in Fiji

Excluding any car rental and gas, visiting Savulelele is not free but it is affordable.

More importantly, all the money goes to a great cause – employing locals of one of Fiji’s most remote villages and also paying for village upkeep.

It costs $50 FJD (about ~$20 USD) per person for a guide (mandatory) to see Savulelele Waterfall.

You also have to make a donation of kava or money to pay for kava for a sevusevu ceremony. This was $5 FJD each for us. 

Parking is free, so at least you don’t have to worry about that part. And it’s so remote, you’ll never struggle with parking — we were the only ones there!

Arriving in Nabalasere Village

The village of Nabalasere where you start your trek to see the beautiful waterfall in Fiji

First of all, you should let someone in the village know you are coming.

We did this by talking to our diving host, Joji of Ring Gold Divers, who gave the villagers a call to give them a heads-up on our arrival time (especially since we were arriving late, after a dive). 

Once you arrive, some villagers will be waiting for you with some sarongs. This is not some slander against your sense of modesty: even if you are wearing pants, you will be asked to wear a sarong in the village. It’s simply the custom.

After you don the sarong, you’ll also be asked to present a sevusevu — the traditional offering that is made in Fiji when you arrive in a village.

The sevusevu is traditionally in the form of kava — or money to buy kava. We didn’t have our own kava to bring, so we were told to bring $5 FJD per person contribute towards kava.

They actually grow, harvest, and pound their own kava here — we were able to see them sun-drying it as we walked through the village.

Dried kava root being prepared in the Nabalasere village for future grinding, consumption, and sale

After paying our sevusevu fee and putting on our sarongs, we went to visit the village chief and a few other important people in the community in the local community house. 

Here, they performed a prayer for us — a mix of Fijian prayer and more Christian elements, an example of the hybridization of Fijian customs and the missionaries who have overtaken Fijian religious traditions.

They prayed to the waterfall for our safety and for us to all return safe and sound.

I have heard that some people also have a kava ceremony here, but we did not have kava with the villagers.

I think it’s because we arrived quite late, at 3 PM after our dives, and we didn’t have time for a proper kava ceremony and still see the waterfall safely, with enough light.

Afterwards, they asked if we needed to use the restroom or change into other clothes, or a bathing suit, before we headed out to the waterfall, warning us that it was a 30-minute trek to the waterfall. 

Once that was all finished, our two guides — one for each of us — led us to the edge of the village, where we left our sarongs behind and began our walk to Savulelele.

The Hike to Savulelele Waterfall

A stairway as part of the hiking trail to Savulelele Waterfall going down a hilly path through a lush jungle area

The hike to Savulelele isn’t particularly difficult. At just about 30 minutes each way, I’d say it’s on the easy side of moderate. 

There are definitely some uphill and downhill portions, but nothing is incredibly steep, but you will switch between up and down enough that you start to get a bit of a cardio workout.

As you make the hike, the guides will chat with you a little about life in one of Fiji’s more remote villages, point out important plants to their community (such as taro and kava) and how they are harvested.

Landscape of the beautiful surroundings around Savulelele Waterfall which is well-maintained and beautiful

This is a great chance to learn about life in Nabalasere — they laughed out loud at us when we asked if they used tractors on the land and said no, it’s all done by horseback.

We got our first glimpse of Savulelele from the crest of one of the hills: it was absolutely beautiful.

Even from far away, we were able to see just how majestic it would be up close once we finally arrived.

The absolute thunder of the waterfall also got us pumped for just how huge and overwhelming (in a good way!) the waterfall would be.

view of the savulelele waterfall from afar while still hiking on the trail to lead you to the path to the waterfall

Once we reached the area of Savulelele, we had to do a river crossing. Ever a gentleman, one of the guides carried my friend across the river crossing so she didn’t have to get her shoes wet.

I had given up on mine, so I accepted the squelch of my shoes here, letting them get wet in the process.

After crossing that small river, we climbed up a small little hill: and there Savulelele was in all her exquisite glory.

Experiencing Savulelele

Allison in front of the Savulelele Waterfall, a tiny figure you see only in contrast to the size of the waterfall

There’s no other way to say it: Savulelele is not a waterfall you merely hike to or see, it’s a waterfall that you experience with every sense.

She confronts you with her raw power almost immediately and you instantly understand why they begin every hike with a prayer ceremony: the respect she commands is palpable, as dangerous as she is beautiful.

Towering over 120 meters tall, nearly 400 feet, Savulelele cascades in a rush that is almost deafening, but quickly calms down as it leads into a pristine turquoise pool you can swim in. 

Generally, the way you experience Savulelele is by letting the guides take a few pictures of you while you’re still dry, in front of the waterfall.

Allison Green in front of the waterfall at Savulelele Waterfall in Fiji

Then, one of the guides will stay behind with the stuff you don’t want to get wet, and another guide will lead you behind the waterfall… yes, behind the waterfall!

This part was a little dicey for me, I’ll admit. I had to take off my glasses so I was nearly blind. Water was hitting my face in cold, razor-sharp droplets, like being in a spotlight of a hurricane. 

Once we reached a little divot in the cliff though where we were sheltered from the waterfall, it became a lot more chill.

Then, we could join our guide in echoing his joyous bellows into the waterfall and hearing them echo back at us.

We crossed a small split in the rock — another nerve-wracking moment, but our guide held our hand to help us get through it — and then from there, we got to place where we could jump into the icy pool of the waterfall! 

Allison Green swimming in the waters of the Savulelele Waterfall enjoying the cold rush of the water

Since the frigid coldness of the droplets the waterfall flung at me had already gotten my normally quite cold-sensitive self primed for jumping in, I did so with gusto — and landing in the water, it was an incredible rush. 

We immediately got pushed away a bit from the waterfall’s tumbling spot, which created a effect like a magnet repelling us. No matter how close we tried to get, it would push us back. 

It was a fun challenge trying to swim close to it, and watching physics deny you each and every time.

We played in the water pool quite a bit, crisscrossing the water, admiring the smaller rivulets that cascaded down a mossy wall on one of the sides of the waterfall area, sitting down in the soft, tumbled-smooth rocks in the shallow area and admiring the waterfall.

Allison and Deanne standing in front of the waterfall with their arms up enjoying the waterfall and showing its scale

But my favorite part was floating on my back in the water, laying back with my ears half-submerged in the water, hearing the water tumble uproariously into the water, with the occasional echo of the ululations of the guides echoing around the waterfall.

After an extensive selfie session — our guides were ever the enthusiastic photographers, not only patient to let us get our selfies and videos but also to be our own little cinematographers and tell us the angles they thought were special — we started to head back…

A selfie with our guides at Savulelele Waterfall in Fiji, two female travelers and two locals enjoying the waterfalls

But not before a quick cliff jump in a little smaller area of the water! It was quite exhilarating, and I’m not normally a big cliff jumper. 

They pointed out that the flat area around the cliff-jumping spot was quite popular for picnickers.

Unfortunately, we had come late in the day after diving so we didn’t have time for a picnic, though, since we arrived around 3 PM… it was just enough time for a somewhat-rushed visit of Savulelele.

Allison at the popular cliff jumping and picnic spot in Savulelele

We made the hike back, re-donned our sarongs for our village visit, and said hello to all the village kids who had made their way back from school.

They were there to greet us with ebullient “Bula!”s and shy responses when we echoed it back.

We learned a little about the history of the village on the way back, and how our money that we spent on visiting the waterfall helped the village.

For just $50 FJD per person, which both goes to the guide individually as well as a portion to the village itself for its upkeep, it felt like a very good deal for everyone involved.

The village of Nabulesere once you reach the town where the waterfalls are

I have to say that after nearly circumventing all of Viti Levu (going from Nadi-Pacific Harbour and back and then Nadi-Rakiki and back, with this little sojourn too), this village stands out.

Without a doubt, in all my time in Fiji, I can say that Nabalasere is one of the most beautiful and cohesive villages in the area.

It’s humble, yes, but proud: everything freshly painted in a gorgeous shade of pastel mint green, blending into the scenery.

Everything is made with natural materials like tree branches and white-painted rock creating pathways through the village, where there was a small little rugby patch for the village kids to enjoy.

Last Words on Visiting Savulelele

Allison Green putting her hand up so you can see the true size of Savulelele Waterfall

Visiting Fiji’s tallest waterfall, Savulelele, is an incredible experience that is my favorite above-water memory on my entire nearly three weeks on the islands.

Yes, the road there was chaotic and took forever to traverse. And by the time we got home, it was pitch-black, we were so hungry we could barely think, and we were more exhausted than I have words to describe.

But everything about visiting Savulelele was magical: from meeting the villagers of Nabalasere who keep her beautiful and keep those who visit her safe, to seeing how the symbiosis between Savulelele and Nabalasere benefits the village’s welfare as well as the waterfall’s beauty, to the laughs and photos we shared with our guides. 

Horse in a field in Nabalasere village with landscape looking beautiful and dreamy surrounding lush Fiji hills

It was a reminder of what responsible travel can be: community-centered, locally-invested, and transformative.

It was simply one of my favorite days in Fiji, and while in many countries, a superlative like “tallest waterfall” would be enough to get it mobbed by tourists, Fiji is a special place — Savulelele remains untouched by mass tourism.

Most people immediately leave Viti Levu (Fiji’s largest island, where international flights arrive) for the resorts of the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands to the east, or possibly to go diving in Taveuni’s Rainbow Reef.

But exploring the huge island of Viti Levu is well worth it, and you’ll often find yourself nearly alone on some of this huge island’s most spectacular sights, like Savulelele.

27 Epic Things to Do in Taveuni Island, Fiji

Nestled deep in the heart of the South Pacific, forming a triangle with Fiji’s two larger islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, Taveuni stuns and begs you to stay even longer than you anticipated.

Taveuni is the third-largest island in the Fijian archipelago and is often referred to as the ‘Garden Island’.

And with good reason — Taveuni is a lush, green paradise complete with cascading spectacular waterfalls and scenic hikes that beckon adventurers and tranquility seekers alike.

Allison Green in front of the lower bouma falls which have a large single cascade drop into a turquoise pool

But for many people, the real draw to Taveuni is what lies beneath the surface.

Plunge into the mesmerizing Rainbow Reef found along the Somosomo Strait, and you’ll be experiencing one of the world’s best dive destinations.

Dive sites like the the Great White Wall and Purple Wall are not just poetic names but promises: an explosion of colors and marine life that will leave you spellbound and overwhelmed in the best possible way.

Getting to Taveuni

A small fiji link airplane with just a few seats on it which is what you take to taveuni. people walking out on the runway on a sunny day in fiji on a small plane

Getting to Taveuni by plane is certainly the easiest way to get here, though it’s not the cheapest.

Domestic flights leave several times a day from both Nadi and Suva, and cost around $300-400 USD roundtrip.

If you’re coming from the island of Vanua Levu, you can also take a ferry and bus combination.

The Taveuni Princess passenger ferry fits 50 people and runs the Somosomo Strait, including a bus service to and from Savusavu on Vanua Levu.

It takes about one hour to travel from Savusavu to Buca Bay, and then the ferry crossing to Taveuni takes about 2 hours.

If you’re in Savusavu, you can buy tickets in the bus terminal for about $25 FJD per person (about $11 USD).

If you’re not in Savusavu, you’d have to get there first from Viti Levu, which is possible via several different ferry ports.

27 Best Things to Do in Taveuni for All Kinds of Travelers

Scuba dive the epic Rainbow Reef!

view of the underwater world in taveuni with beautiful colors of coral

The island of Taveuni is home to one of the healthiest and most stunning reefs in Fiji — and indeed, probably the world!

There’s a reason Jacques Cousteau dubbed Fiji as as the soft coral capital of the world — and in particular, Taveuni’s Somosomo Strait is where you’ll see some of the best soft coral.

Soft coral is dependent on currents to bring the corals nutrients, so they’ll only unfurl and show their true beauty when there’s current.

As a result, diving in Taveuni is an interesting mix of push-and-pull drift driving, slower lulls between coral heads, and occasionally pausing against the current to truly take in the beauty.

Nicknamed the Rainbow Reef for its canvas of vivid hues, there are some 20+ dive sites that each offer something incredible — and I got to experience 9 of them (since we doubled up and did the Great White Wall twice!).

I’ll dedicate a whole section to the Great White Wall next, but there are a few other sites I want to shout out.

One is the beautiful Annie’s Bommie, which is Aussie slang for outcrop of coral reef.

This spiraling coral pinnacle is like a tornado of fish life with fusiliers and purple and orange anthias constantly dancing around it.

As you navigate in slow spirals around this beautiful pinnacle, getting shallower as the dive progresses, keep an eye out for the delicate macro life that often goes unnoticed!

a gold and yellow ribbon eel in taveuni

Another great dive site is Enchanted Forest, which doesn’t disappoint its poetic name.

With its lush soft corals, tall sea whips, and forest-green tree-shaped branching corals, it truly feels like an underwater forest.

Another favorite of mine is the Purple Wall. True to its name, it is adorned with rich purple soft corals cascading down a steep wall.

But it also has so much incredible small life, like decorator crabs, black mantis shrimps, and all sorts of nudibranchs!

Time your trip to dive the Great White Wall, one of the world’s best dive sites.

the great white wall dive site in fiji with coral growing like snow off the side of the sea wall

The Great White Wall in Fiji is often hailed as one of the world’s premier dive sites, and having dove it twice, I can attest there’s no other dive site quite like it.

Nestled in the depths of the Somosomo Strait, this incredible wall dive is named not for sharks (luckily!) but for its breathtaking soft corals in otherworldly shades of white and soft, pale lavender.

You’ll go through a swim-through to exit the cave and see a sight in all its splendor – a sheer drop of a coral wall, completely blanketed in luminescent white soft corals, making it seem as if you’re floating alongside a snowy mountainside underwater!

Unfortunately, though, the Great White Wall can only be visited a few times each month, and here’s why: it’s all about the tide.

a vertical view of the great white wall as seen in taveuni when the tide is in the right bloom stage

The full bloom of its namesake white soft corals are highly sensitive to water conditions, only blooming to its full potential a few times a month.

Luckily, the dive shops can predict this and plan accordingly, so you can arrange your Taveuni trip to coincide with the wall’s peak bloom.

These specific tidal conditions play a crucial role in nourishing the soft corals, ensuring they flourish and maintain their radiant white hue and their ethereal beauty.

The stark-white and semi-fluorescent hue of the corals, contrasted against the deep blue abyss, creates a surreal experience that you’ll remember for life.

And once the Great White Wall portion of the dive is up — and it goes fast, since you dive at 90-100 feet, so you need to keep an eye on your dive computer to not exceed your NDL — it somehow still feels like it just keeps getting better.

The second portion of the dive features beautiful bommies in every shade of purple and lavender imaginable, rife with fish life and macro critters. I even was lucky enough to spot the magnificent peacock nudibranch here!

In addition to the beautiful soft corals, I also got to see a giant moray eel, an octopus (twice, on two different dives!), and so many incredible fish.

Snorkel along Taveuni’s shallower reefs.

a view of the taveuni coral reefs

If you’re not scuba certified, don’t worry — the Rainbow Reef is not off-limits to you!

We met a couple at one of the BBQ dinners we attended who don’t know how to dive.

Sure enough, a day or two later we saw them on board our boat, coming out with us to some dive sites where there are shallower areas for snorkeling.

You will want to take a day trip to snorkel in Taveuni, because the Rainbow Reef is a distance away by boat, around 20-30 minutes away. You definitely can’t just get there from shore and see the best of it!

moorish idol and clownfish together in fiji

You can arrange a snorkeling trip with Taveuni Ocean Sports and they’ll give you a guide to bring you to the best snorkel spots on the Rainbow Reef.

Some dive sites are situated where there are shallow patches where you can see as much life from the surface as possible.

Expect to see every color of fish and coral possible, and even possibly whitetip reef sharks or turtles!

Typically, the dive sites where they’ll also bring snorkelers are Nuku Reef, Fish Factory, and Cabbage Patch, since these three sites have excellent shallower portions.

Traverse the Lavena Coastal Walk.

the lavena coastal walk trail around sunset with cloudy pastel sky and palm trees and waves

But diving isn’t the only thing Taveuni has to offer, though it may be what the island is most famous for.

No, this beautiful island is also a hikers dream, too!

The Lavena Coastal Walk is one of the best walks in Taveuni, located at the far eastern edge of Taveuni island — quite literally at the end of the road!

This relatively easily 3-mile walk used to be famous for its beautiful suspension bridge, though unfortunately that bridge is no longer after a cyclone came through and wiped it away.

the end of the hike of lavena coastal walk, the wainibau falls

It’s still quite a lovely hike through the coastal forest, though now the suspension bridge has been replaced with a river crossing.

It takes about 3 hours to hike to Wainibau Falls, the waterfall at the end of the Lavena Coastal Walk, a double-whammy of a waterfall with several natural swimming pools you can also take a dip in.

I have a full guide to doing the Lavena Coastal Walk if you want to read that before your trip!

Visit the Lavena Coast by boat to see the coastal waterfalls.

the lavena visitor center with blue building

Another way you can visit the waterfalls is by taking one of the boat tours that depart from the visitor center in Lavena.

The basic boat tour to the first waterfall is priced at 165 FJD ($73 USD).

This essentially means you’ll bypass most of the trek to Wainibau Falls that you would do if you took the Lavena Coastal Walk, focusing on the core section that can only be covered on foot.

signs showing the different waterfalls and prices for the waterfall boat trips

For groups of 4 or more, the rate for this primary boat excursion is 45 FJD ($20 USD) per individual.

Other available options include a tour to the second waterfall, which boasts a trio of cascading falls.

For parties of 3 or fewer, the boat fee is 200 FJD ($88 USD). However, for groups of 4 or more, the cost is reduced to 50 FJD ($22 USD) per person.

The ultimate boat tour option takes you to the most remote waterfalls. For this experience, parties of 3 or fewer pay 300 FJD ($132 USD total), while groups of 4 or more pay 80 FJD ($35 USD) each.

Slide down the Waitavala Waterslides.

Allison going down the Waitavala waterslides in Taveuni Fiji in a red bathing suit

One of the most fun things to do in Taveuni is join the locals at the Waitavala Waterslides, located just outside the main town of Somosomo.

These natural waterslides are precisely what they sound like—slick, smooth rock surfaces where streams have carved a path, allowing visitors to slide down amidst a scenic backdrop of Taveuni’s jungly interior.

What’s particularly fascinating about the Waitavala Waterslides is the fun local experience it can be, especially on weekends.

If you want a genuine Fijian experience, visit on a Saturday or Sunday!

This is when local families gather, and joyful shrieks and excited yells echo through the air, as folks of all ages take their turn to glide down the water-eroded slides.

Accessing the waterslides is relatively straightforward. From the main road, there’s a marked trail that leads you directly to this natural wonder, about a 10-minute hike until you reach the waterslides area.

From there, you’ll cross the small river at the place where it’s calm — there’s a handrail that helps you cross. You’ll need to walk about 10 minutes more to reach the start of the slides.

As of my last visit, there wasn’t an official entrance fee to access the waterslides, but we did pay about $70 FJD (~$30 USD) to have a driver bring us there and wait for us for an hour or so while we enjoyed the slides.

A few safety tips: this is a natural waterslide so there are inherently some risks! Keep your head protected so you don’t bang it on any rocks (don’t lean your head back, but stay sitting upright).

Likewise, keep your arms to yourself, crossed across your chest, so you don’t harm your hands or fingers. Also, wear pants so that you don’t get beat up and bruised by the slides!

Hike to the Tavoro Waterfalls in Bouma National Heritage Park.

The view of the lower falls of Tavoro Waterfalls at the beginning of the hike

One of the best hikes in Taveuni is the hike to the Tavoro Falls (also known as the Bouma Falls) in the national park.

Consisting of three separate waterfalls, this is an epic and customizable hike.

You can choose between a short hike to a tall, single-drop waterfall into a beautiful crystal-clear blue swimming pool… or a longer hike to two more waterfalls, including optional river crossings!

Hiking to the first waterfall is rather easy, via a 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center on a paved path.

The next waterfall is definitely harder, requiring another 40 minutes of walk and including an optional river crossing (or you can take a path that doesn’t require one).

The result is an epic, more secluded roaring waterfall that you can swim in or just admire the ferocious spray!

There’s also a third and final waterfall, with the largest natural swimming pool.

This is technically the smallest waterfall, but it cascades across a wide rock, making it rather impressive.

The third waterfall is also about 40 minutes from the prior one, so all in all, expect to walk 90 minutes from the visitor center to the highest one, and then be sure to allocate time to swim in some (or all!) of the pools.

I have a full guide to visiting the Tavoro Waterfalls here.

Watch the sunset from Tramonto in Matei.

Sunset view from the restaurant of Tromonto in Matei in Taveuni

Of course, with all that diving and hiking, you’re bound to get tired and just want to relax with an epic sunset view from time to time, no?

Many of the accommodations in Taveuni are in the town of Matei — and even if you’re not staying there, it’s worth visiting this part of the island if you want a break from your resort’s food.

Tramonto is a beautiful beachfront restaurant that has some of the best sunsets on the island.

They offer a rotating menu every night of delicious local Fijian cuisine — I enjoyed a curry lolo octopus one night that was unreal!

Try Fijian kava with locals.

Group sitting around with a Fiji local drinking kava at a ceremony

Kava is an essential part of understanding the Fiji islands’ culture and history.

Once reserved only for war chiefs, now kava has been democratized to be an everyday custom, but one that still has roots in its tradition.

Typically, one person will be in charge of leading the kava ceremony. They are in charge of preparing the kava and serving it to people (and determining the order of serving).

Before you drink, say “bula” — a term of greeting that also works like ‘cheers’ in this context.

People will clap (typically 3 times) as you drink and finish your kava and return the coconut cup to the leader.

Between rounds of kava, typically the leader of the ceremony will also sing songs or let people talk and chat amongst themselves.

But wait, what is kava?

Kava is a relaxing depressant that gives a calm, tingly, relaxed feel due to its kavalactones.

It’s not intoxicating in the sense that alcohol is, but it can give you a slightly euphoric sensation.

Drinking too much super-strong kava can definitely make you weak in the knees, but generally, it’s a rather gentle drink that is fun to enjoy with a group while in Taveuni.

Your hotel will likely offer you the opportunity to try kava, and many ‘lovo nights’ will also have kava served.

Attend a lovo night to try traditional Fijian food.

Fijian woman serving different Fiji dishes at a buffet

While Taveuni has many strengths, being a gastronomic powerhouse is not one of them.

I love Fijian food, but the options on Taveuni end up being somewhat few and far between, and you’ll likely tap out all the main restaurants within a few days.

This is where the lovo nights come in to save the day! ‘Lovo’ refers to the traditional Fijian way of cooking in the earth.

Fijian locals sitting in front of the restaurant while in orange shirts about to perform a dance

Many lovo nights also consist of a cultural component, such as a kava ceremony or a dance performance from local villagers.

For around $40 to $55 FJD ($18-24 USD) per person, you can enjoy a buffet of Fijian cuisine, including earth-cooked BBQ dishes like a whole wahoo fish!

You’ll also try other favorites of Fijian food, like kokoda (a ceviche-like raw fish dish served with coconut milk and citrus) and the pumpkin-cooked stews.

They also serve unique Fijian sides and veggies like steamed cassava leaves, lovo-baked breadfruit, and ota, a young fern.

This is a great way to try a bunch of different Fijian dishes that are often hard to order at restaurants, which tend to offer a more Western selection of food.

Typically, the Dive Café hosts a lovo night on Wednesdays and the The Drift hosts a dinner on Fridays or Saturdays.

Enjoy the best breakfast on the island at The Dive Café.

Coffee, pancakes, sunhat, at a breakfast in Fiji

Like I said, there aren’t too many choices when it comes to food on Taveuni…

… but when it comes to where to get a delicious breakfast, the obvious answer is the Dive Café in Matei.

They have delicious coffees — the best coffee I had in my entire two weeks in Fiji!

Sign on a surfboard that reads I love you so matcha on a beachfront restaurant

They also have options like chai lattes and matcha lattes for those of us who want a little caffeine but don’t love coffee.

Their breakfasts are fantastic, including veggie omelettes and delicious pancakes.

They also have a ton of different smoothie options if you want something a little healthier!

Plus, its beachside setting is adorable!

Eat delicious organic ice cream from a stall.

Three scoops of ice cream from a road side stall including chocolate and fruit sorbet flavors

Located not far from the Matei airport in front of the Coconut Grove Beachfront Cottages, you’ll find the best ice cream — all organic! — on Taveuni.

With a rotating cast of unique flavors, the ice cream only costs $2 FJD per scoop (less than $1 USD), making it nearly impossible to leave without trying at least three flavors.

I tried their chocolate and coconut, as well as a lemongrass flavor, and a soursop flavor — all of them were stunning!

Sample local organic chocolates.

different flavors of chocolate bars made from local ingredients at a taveuni street stall

Also at this stall, you can pick up some locally-made organic chocolates which also make perfect souvenirs from Fiji.

There are samples you can try — once you try it, it’s hard not to leave without a few bars!

Stay in a lovely bure in Matei.

interior of a bure bungalow at a hotel in matei

There are a handful of great resorts in Taveuni, but you can also just enjoy a more casual stay in one of the bures (bungalows) on the island.

With high, vaulted ceilings with thatched roofs and an ingenious design that maximizes cross-breezes, these bures are a wonderful way to get a sense of Fijian design.

These bungalows utilize the environment to its advantage, blending architectural elements to make an eco-friendly accommodation choice.

In fact, they’re so well-designed we never once had to turn on the air conditioning during our entire week in Taveuni!

We stayed at Maravu Lodge in Matei and loved their bures, and the prices are really affordable.

Rent a kayak or SUP and explore the calm coast of Matei.

two stand up paddle boards available for rent

The waters off the town of Matei are really calm and peaceful, making it perfect for exploring by kayak or paddleboard!

You can rent one from a variety of dive shop storefronts along the main road for an affordable hourly or daily price.

Tip: Reserve one for around 5 PM to 6 PM to see the sunset from the water!

Visit the Vuna Blowholes.

One of lesser-known but equally interesting things to do in Taveuni is explore the spectacle that is the Vuna Blowholes.

Located on the southern coast of Taveuni near the village of Vuna, quite literally at the end of the road on the western side, these blowholes are a breathtaking display of nature’s power and beauty.

The Vuna Blowholes are a series of natural openings in the volcanic rock where the force of the ocean waves, combined with the underground pressure, causes water to shoot up dramatically into the air.

On days when the sea is particularly active, these jets of water can reach impressive heights, which is accompanied by the thunderous sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and the hiss of the water spraying into the air as it escapes the tightness of the lava tube.

But the setting of the Vuna Blowholes is perhaps the best part, with its rugged coastline with its sharp cliffs and vast blue ocean behind it.

Visiting the blowholes is relatively easy, with a marked path leading from the nearby village, and there is no entry free. That said, if locals help you along the way, it’s common to to offer a small donation or ‘sevusevu’ to the local village.

This gesture not only supports the community and respects their cultural customs, but also promotes sustainable tourism and shares the wealth of tourism with the locals, not just foreigners who own large resorts.

Explore Des Voeux Peak for birdlife and bird watching.

Another hike you may want to do in Taveuni is up Des Voeux Peak, the second-highest peak on Taveuni at nearly 1,200 meters (3,930 feet).

Due to its height and its difficulty (especially if there’s been rainfall) this is a hike you should only do with a guide.

Also note that because of its height, you should not do this hike on the same day that you are doing diving — which is why we weren’t able to do this when we visited.

You can either take a hike the full 6 kilometers up and down (which takes about 3-4 hours up and 2-3 hours back) — it’s steep and difficult, without a lot of cover in some spots, so be sure to bring a lot of water if you choose this option.

If you do the hike, you can also hire a guide in the local village — I highly recommend this for your own safety!

An easier option is to book a 4WD with a guide. They will bring you a good portion fo the way up the mountain via about a 40-minute drive, and then you only have to hike an additional 30 minutes or so to reach the top of the peak.

This area is one of the most remote, secluded parts of Taveuni so it’s perfect for admiring the island’s endemic birdlife, like the orange fruit dove and the colorful Fiji parrotfinch.

Allow three to four hours to walk the 6 kilometers up, and at least two to return. It is a steep, arduous climb in the heat so it is best to start early.

It is possible to drive (4WD) with a guide part of the way up. It is also possible to pick up a guide from the local village to go with you and this is well worth it for the local knowledge.

Hike in search of the rarest flower in the world.

Did you know Taveuni is the only place in the world where the beloved, rare Tagimoucia flower grows — which also just so happens to be the national flower of Fiji?

You can find it in the volcanic crater of Lake Tagimoucia, but only during certain parts of the year. When I went in July, it was not the season for it.

I was advised that you can find the flower blooming around October through January, peaking in November and December.

You’ll definitely want to hire a guide if you’re hiking to Lake Tagimoucia, since it’s a pretty intense hike, where fog can often obscure paths.

The flower is also smaller and harder to find than you might imagine, so it helps to have an expert with you!

They can also tell you the local Fijian legends about this flower, which supposedly emerged from the tears of a young girl who was crying over a love that was breaking her heart.

Cross the International Dateline… as many times as you want!

Crossing the international date line once is for chumps. Did you know that on Taveuni, you can cross it as many times as you want?

Yes, the international date line runs straight through this island, and you can find the sign for it behind the fire station and rugby field between the towns of Wairiki and Tavuki (near the Waitavala Slides).

While Taveuni may be known for its reefs and waterfalls, one of the quirkiest things to do in Taveuni is cross a simple line drawn on the earth: the International Date Line.

This simple line, passing through the 180° meridian where the East meets the West, lets you play time traveler, playfully juggling ‘yesterday’ and ‘today’ within a matter of seconds.

The fun in visiting the International Date Line is the playful photos and videos you can take, hopping from one side to the other, you can boast that you’ve stepped into tomorrow and then hopped back to today!

It’s also an amusing way to realize the arbitrary nature of time demarcations — because what do you mean that you can be in two days at once if you straddle the line?

That said, although this line theoretically bisects Taveuni, it’s not really the case that half the island is in today and half is in tomorrow — the date line has been adjusted so that it circumvents the entire Fiji archipelago.

It’s more of a fun quirk than an actual date line, but it’s a fun thing to do in Taveuni nonetheless!

Attend a Sunday church service at the Wairiki Catholic Mission.

catholic church in taveuni from the side view on a sunny day on the island

This Catholic church in Taveuni is a great place to get introduced to Fijian religious customs — it’s a raucous, fun time with lots of singing, a great place to spend a Sunday with locals who sing beautiful hymns a capella.

This Catholic Church is also an interesting place as it stands in tribute to a French missionary who helped Taveuni in a battle against the Tongans, who were trying to invade the island.

It incorporates Roman design, including stained glass windows and stonework, while also having traditional Fijian elements like floor mats instead of pews.

It really shws the hybridization of culture that is emblematic of modern-day Fiji.

The church is also quite close to the International Date Line, so you can easily combine these two things.

Visit the Civa Pearl Farm.

Taveuni is home to a pearl farm where you can learn how they farm pearls from oysters and make beautiful jewelry out of it!

Similar to Tahitian pearls, Fijian pearls are often lustrously black or other beautiful deep colors like green or purple, as opposed to the white pearls you’ll find in other parts of the world.

The owner of the pearl farm, Claude, will bring you out to the pearl farm by boat and explain exactly how they farm pearls here.

The pearl farm tour takes place at 2 PM on Mondays through Thursdays.

And of course, you can buy some beautiful pearls as a souvenir afterwards if you want.

Oh, and you can even snorkel on the reef here if you want!

Get a Fijian massage.

massage table in a room with an ocean view in taveuni

Between all the incredible diving and hiking that Taveuni has to offer, it’s easy to wear yourself down a bit and feel some aching muscles.

Many resorts and hotels will offer in-room massages, but the best deal on the island (and an incredible massage) can be found at the storefront of Taveuni Ocean Sports in Matei.

There, you can get an incredible hourlong massage to the sound of the ocean behind you for just $60 FJD ($26 USD) per hour!

Enjoy the snorkeling and sand beaches of Waitabu Marine Park.

Waitabu Marine Park is a dedicated protected marine reserve where fishing has been prohibited in order to preserve the local ecosystem.

There are two ways you can visit the marine park — there is a Cultural Experience tour that costs $100 FJD ($44 USD).

That includes refreshments, entertainment, and the chance to experience a traditional bilibili ride on a Fijian wooden raft.

Another option is just a snorkeling tour, which costs $70 FJD or $30 USD, where you can explore some of the best reef near the island of Taveuni (not far out like the Rainbow Reef is).

It’s also close to Tavoro Waterfalls so it makes a good addition to a day out at Bouma National Heritage Park.

Stay at one of the epic island resorts.

There are several incredible resorts on Taveuni and its nearby islands, including Qamea Resort and Spa on the island of Qamea and Taveuni Palms Resort on the main island near the airport.

This is a great way to relax and unwind and enjoy some 5-star luxury on the laidback island of Taveuni.

There are also dive resorts like Taveuni Dive Resort in case you want your stay to be more focused on the underwater world than the surface!

Tavoro Waterfalls: How to Hike the 3 Bouma Falls in Taveuni

Allison Green in front of the waterfalls of Tavoro Falls

One of the most stunning hikes in Fiji is a relatively easy, extremely rewarding hike through the jungle to see three epic waterfalls on Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest island.

On the rugged eastern side of Taveuni Island, you’ll have to get here with one of the rugged taxis that can handle the unpaved roads.

It’s a long, bumpy, dusty road — but it’s worth it to see some of the most stunning waterfalls in Fiji, and certainly the most stunning waterfalls on Taveuni.

The view of the lower falls of Tavoro Waterfalls at the beginning of the hike

Located in Bouma Heritage National Park, these waterfalls have many names.

Bouma Waterfalls, Tavoro Waterfalls, Tavoro Falls, etc. — it all refers to the same beautiful hike!

How to Get to Tavoro Waterfalls & Bouma National Heritage Park

sign at the bouma national heritage park that tells you about the waterfalls

The easiest way to get to Tavoro Waterfalls is by taking a taxi, who will then wait at the visitor center for you to finish your hike.

Typically, you’ll work out a roundtrip price with your accommodation that incorporates the taxi wait time in the cost.

We found this the easiest way to get around and did this when visiting Waitavala, Lavena, etc.

From Matei, we paid $100 FJD ($44 USD) for a half-day trip, leaving Matei around 9 AM and coming back around 1 PM. 

It takes about one hour to get from Matei to the visitors center, where you’ll start the hike. 

The hike itself takes another 2.5-3 hours, then you’ll need an hour to get back to the Matei area as well, if that’s where you are staying.

How Much Does the Bouma Waterfalls Trail Cost?

the tavoro waterfalls upper fall at the end of the hike

In Fiji, many of the hikes, including the Lavena Coastal Walk and the hike to Savulelele Waterfall on the main island of Viti Levu, have a fee associated with them.

This fee supports the locals of Bouma village and ensures they benefit from tourism, and the villagers also help to care for the upkeep of the trail.

The fee is $36 FJD per adult or $10 FJD per kid (that’s around $16 USD and $4 USD, respectively) to access the Tavoro Falls trail.

What is the Tavoro Waterfalls Hike Like?

sketch of the tavoro waterfalls hand drawn to show you the different options

The best thing about the Tavoro Waterfall Hike is that it’s really customizable — pick between one, two, or all three waterfalls, or a hike with or without water crossings! 

Depending on your level of fitness and how much time you want to dedicate to hiking, you can walk to just the first waterfall or you can hike all three waterfalls.

The first waterfall is extremely easy to get to, and it’s great for multigenerational families or those with some mobility limitations.

While it’s not necessarily wheelchair-accessible, it is a very easy walk to the first waterfall, so it should be fine for most people with mobility or health issues.

The second and third waterfalls require more time and stamina, especially since you have to hike up and then down at the end!

Hike to Waterfall #1

Allison Green in front of the lower bouma falls which have a large single cascade drop into a turquoise pool

The first part of the hike to the lower falls is extremely easy. 

There’s even a paved path that leads you directly to the first fall, which also happens to have the largest drop (78 feet or 24 meters) — and the nicest natural pool to swim in!

Personally, I think it’s the prettiest of the three waterfalls, so even if you are limited on time or energy, I think it’s still worth paying the entrance fee just to see this hike.

This part of the hike is very easy! It’s about a 10-minute walk, maybe a 15-minute walk if you are on the slow side, from the visitor center to reach Lower Bouma Falls.

pink hibiscus flower that you can see along the beginning part of the tavoro waterfall trail, the part that is paved

Along the way, you’ll see some beautiful scenery, like tropical flowers and bird life, including the endemic orange doves you’ll find on Taveuni.

The Lower Tavoro Waterfall is a single-drop waterfall that cascades thunderously into a gorgeous turquoise-blue pool with crystal clear water that looks straight out of a dream.

You can swim in the water just by wading in, though mind the slippery rocks as you enter the water!

Hike to Waterfall #2

the hike up the many stairs that bring you to the second waterfall in bouma falls on taveuni, with mossy trees and stairs and railing on the trail path to the waterfall

The second fall takes a good deal more effort, so be prepared! Have plenty of water and sun protection for this part of the hike.

In my opinion, this is the hardest part of the hike, at least on a cardio level. Get ready for lots of stairs!

Luckily, there’s a dedicated rest point about halfway along the way, with a shaded platform area with some picnic tables, where you can enjoy panoramic views over the ocean and Qamea Island.

Allison looking over the edge of the railing to admire the views of the coastline and qamea island in the distance while hiking to tavoro falls in taveuni

And despite being a somewhat difficult stretch of hike, it’s a really well maintained trail, so the difficulty is really just about the incline.

As you hike to waterfall #2, you can choose between two paths — the left way will bring you there via a small river crossing, the right way will bring you there without a river crossing.

We had done a river crossing during the Lavena Coastal Walk and didn’t want to do it again, so we opted to avoid the river crossing and go via the right path.

Eventually, you’ll see a small fork in the path that leads you to either the third waterfall or the second waterfall (continuing to the left side vs. taking a right) — follow the blue sign, pictured below.

blue sign that says second waterfall leading to the left side of the trail

To get to the middle Bouma Falls, it takes about 40 more minutes from the first waterfall… mostly because of the stairs.

The second waterfall is the most rugged and least inviting to swim in, with quickly-churning waters, a large amount of spray creating lots of slick rocks, and a very small pool area.

It’s the second-tallest, at 15 meters or 49 feet, and it’s super strong!

You can definitely swim here, though personally, I think the third and first waterfall have much nicer natural pools to swim in.

​Personally, we skipped swimming in this pool just for the sake of time, since it wasn’t particularly welcoming!

Allison Green in the middle waterfall of Tavoro Waterfalls, resting her arm on a rock, with the waterfall cascading towering above her, surrounded by moss covered rocks

That said, it’s still a really beautiful waterfall and only a short 5-minute detour rather than continuing straight on to the third and final waterfall, so you should definitely see it.

It’s up to you and how much time you have to see if you also want to swim!

By the way, if you took the river crossing way, you’ll also need to cross the water here (essentially a second river crossing) in order to continue onto the trail to the final waterfall.

If you took the non-river-crossing way, you’ll need to backtrack back to the fork where you saw the “2nd waterfall” sign.

Hike to Waterfall #3

sign that reads track to third waterfall in taveuni on the path to the bouma falls

The third waterfall doesn’t take quite as much physical effort as the hike up to the second waterfall, which has more elevation gain and is more exposed to the sun.

To get to the next waterfall, you’ll have to double-back a bit from the second waterfall until you reach the fork in the path that clearly shows you where to continue on in order to reach the third falls.

The hike to the upper falls isn’t too intense and it’s more shaded, as you go through dense tropical rainforest to reach the last part of the hike.

Allison Green swimming in the big natural pool at the Upper Bouma Falls with gorgeous small cascade

​After about 40 minutes from the middle waterfall, you’ll reach the Upper Bouma Falls, where you can reward yourself for all the sweat with a dip in the big pool. It’s so pleasantly cool!

We were the only ones at the big pool and it was such a nice reward to enjoy a break from the tropical heat at the end of the hike.

Of course, watch out for slippery surfaces when entering the pool — the rocks are quite mossy.

This waterfall has the shortest drop of the three (33 feet or 10 meters), but it’s still one of the nicest falls, since it’s a wide waterfall that cascades over the top of the mountain. 

Do You Need a Guide for the Tavoro Waterfalls in Bouma National Park?

the middle waterfall of the 3 falls you can find in bouma national heritage park

​In my opinion, definitely not! The trail is really well-marked and obvious, so it’s quite hard to get off the path.

If you’re staying in a resort, like Taveuni Palms Resort, Garden Island Resort, etc. they’ll typically offer a guided tour, perfect if you don’t want to do the hike all by yourself.

While the hike itself is easy, the nice part about going with knowledgeable local guides is that they’ll let you know more about the varieties of island plants and explain more about the island’s lush rainforest vegetation.

Can You Visit Lavena Coastal Walk & Bouma Falls in One Day?

Allison hiking in tavoro waterfalls area wearing linen pants, open shirt, and shoes

If you look at the map, you’ll see that the Lavena Coastal Walk is also located within the Bouma National Heritage Park, just like Tavoro Waterfalls.

In essence, if you’re up for an early start and don’t mind committing to roughly 3 hours of hiking in Lavena and another 3-4 in Bouma, then the answer is yes!

However, to tackle this, it’s essential to fuel up with a substantial breakfast beforehand and also bring along a packed lunch. You’ll also want to hire a taxi for the full-day for an easy round trip commute.

This is definitely a taxing ask for non-experienced hikers, but it should be relatively easy to more experienced hikers. 

It’s a good way to economize on taxi expenses or squeeze multiple activities into a tight itinerary, if you only have a few days on Taveuni or if your days are taken up with other activities like scuba diving the Rainbow Reef.

The drive time between the starting points of the Lavena Coastal Walk and the entrance trail to Bouma Falls is minimal, especially when compared to the time it takes to reach the secluded eastern side of the island from Matei. 

So, if you don’t mind having an intensive hiking day, combining these two can be a great — but tiring! — day out in Taveuni.

Lavena Coastal Walk: How to Hike to Wainibau Falls in Taveuni

allison in front of the waterfall at the end of the lavena coastal walk, called wainabau falls, wearing a yellow romper and white shirt and shoes.

Amongst its impressive collection of hikes, the Lavena Coastal Walk stands up to the test as one of the best hikes in Taveuni to explore the island’s lush, jungly side and truly understand why it’s nicknamed “The Garden Island” of Fiji.

With its rich volcanic soil, the island of Taveuni is home to lush rainforests and dense Jurassic Park-looking foliage, and its humid, tropical weather means cascading waterfalls are able to be visited year-round.

For all its lushness, the Lavena Coastal Walk is the perfect summary of what Taveuni island has to offer hikers. 

Beginning at the quaint village of Lavena, this trail leads you on a winding path along the coast, before sending you up some grueling steps up a hill and into the heart of the jungle.

view around sunset from along the lavena coastal trail looking at the stunning scenery

There, you’ll find one of the island’s most spectacular waterfalls, where ultra-cold fresh water constantly churns, yet rocks also dam in the water to form small, calm bathing pools before you reach the waterfall. 

Along the way, you’ll see pristine beaches, small dwellings on the outskirts of the Lavena village (which is one of the most remote villages in Taveuni), and unique flowers and plants best explained by hiring a local guide at the visitor center. 

But of course, this hike is most famous for the waterfall that serves as its endpoint before turning out and back, the gorgeous Wainibau Falls.

the wainabau falls with   its giant waterfall cascade at the end of the swimming pools

It’s framed by rocks that make it look like just one waterfall from afar — but when you swim in its super-cold pools, you’ll see the walls actually hide a second, bonus waterfall! 

Hiking here is one of the best things to do in Taveuni, but I didn’t know much about it before I did this hike — let’s just say it’s not on AllTrails!

I’ll explain how you do the Lavena Coastal Walk in Fiji, including up-to-date information from my August 2023 trip, as well as pricing, difficulty, and other practical information.

How to Get to Lavena for the Coastal Walk

sign that reads the lavena lodge and visitor center

The village of Lavena is located on the east coast of Taveuni, at the very end of a dusty road best navigated by a 4×4 or truck.

The island has two types of taxis: typical sedan-style taxis and rugged Mitsubishi trucks. 

Your hotel will call one of the more rugged taxis for you if you ask them to call you a taxi for the Lavena Coastal Walk (or anything on the Eastern side of the island, which is unpaved road).

From Matei, we were able to organize a taxi to and from Lavena, including wait time, for 140 FJD (that’s $62 USD at the time of writing).

Split between two people, it wasn’t a bad price for $31 USD per person for an hour plus ride each time, plus about four hours of wait time for the driver.

the bumpy unpaved road to lavena coastal path and the waterfall at the end of  it, with palm trees and rearview mirror

There is a bus to Lavena, but I didn’t do it this way as 1) I prefer to use taxis while traveling to save time and support the local economy and 2) I was diving each day I was in Taveuni and my time was limited each afternoon.

If you want to find out more about the bus, it’s best to ask a local or ask at your accommodations, but tourists before have taken the local bus to Lavena.

The island really only has one road around it, so it’s not a matter so much of where but when the bus will stop.

Taking the bus will certainly be cheaper but it will not be convenient!

How Much Does the Lavena Coastal Walk Cost?

Allison Green standing in a yellow jumpsuit at the end of the Lavena Coastal Walk, where you can see Wainabau falls and two different natural pools

Like most hikes in Fiji, there is a fee for doing the Lavena Coastal Walk which is used to support cnd subsidize the village that cares for the land around it.

​Some people may balk at there being a fee, but I think it’s a great way to ensure Fiji’s residents benefit from tourism in their villages.

Also,, keep in mind that this is part of a national park! The majority of the Lavena Coastal Walk (in particular, its waterfall) is part of Bouma National Heritage Park.

As of 2023, the fee for doing the Lavena Coastal Walk was 30 FJD per person for access to the trail, or 10 FJD per person if you just wanted to access the beach (no trail).

plant life and scenery on the lavena coastal trail with guide and fellow hiker on the trail

That’s $13 USD per person for the trail or $4 USD for just the beach access.

You can also hire one of the local guides, who will tell you more about the village, point out local plants that are important in Fijian culture and cooking, and generally just show you the path. 

​It’s only 20 FJD to hire a guide, or $9 USD, so I think it’s really a good idea to hire a villager as your guide, to further support the locals of Taveuni.

What is the Lavena Coastal Hike Like?

Allison Green, author of the article, standing in front of a stream crossing in Lavena Coastal Walk

The Lavena Coastal Walk is an easy to moderate 10 km walk through mostly flat terrain, though it also includes a stream crossing (aided by a rope) and some hilly terrain with lots of steps at the end of the hike.

There used to be a famous suspension bridge instead of the creek crossing, but the suspension bridge was washed away by a cyclone in 2016 and has not yet been rebuilt.

At low tide, it’s easy to cross the Wainambau Creek that flows out to the sea, but closer to high tide it may be more difficult, with nearly waist-deep water possible during the rainy season.

This is why I’d hire a guide, as they’ll be able to show you the safe way to cross. You might want to bring water shoes for this portion of the hike. 

woman in a blue shirt and rolled up pants crossing the stream with her hand on a rope for balance with the ocean behind her

My girlfriend wore Chaco hiking sandals and got some pretty gnarly blisters on the hike.

I wore Allbirds (not necessarily hiking shoes) and was okay, and just dealt with wet shoes during the hike.

We arrived at Lavena around 3 PM to start the hike and we got back around 6 PM, taking about 3 hours to complete the hike including our stop at the waterfalls for about 20 minutes — not much time, but sufficient for us to enjoy a little swim.

Finishing just after sunset (which happens on the other side of the island) meant we had some pretty spectacular colors on the walk back!

sunset colors in the sky with rugged landscape of taveuni coastline in lavena coastal walk

This was definitely a bit more rushed than I would have preferred, but since we were diving in Taveuni every day, it was the only way we could squeeze it into our schedule!

The Lavena Coastal Walk mostly winds along, well, the coast at the start of the walk. Eventually, you get more into the hilly area, with some mild uphill and downhill and eventually a river crossing.

​Not too long after the river crossing, you’ll hang a right as the trail leads you to the waterfalls.

You’ll hike along a beautiful, narrow gorge brimming with foliage, ferns, vines, and clusters of palm trees, all along a stream that leads you to the ultimate goal of the hike.

view of the stream that the waterfall creates after falling from the side of a cliff with palms and other tropical foliage

You’ll go up a somewhat grueling series of steps before descending again, reaching the natural swimming pool formed by rocks begins, with a view of Wainibau Falls at the end.

But like I said before, this is only a preview: there’s a second surprise waterfall tucked a little further in, which you can only see by taking a cold — I mean refreshing swim to the interior pools. 

​Once you reach the inner grotto area where the two waterfalls are thundering, it’s a marvelous, transcendent experience: a perfect reward at the end of the trail.

Our guide even climbed to the top of the waterfall (the smaller one) and used it  as a waterslide! 

Having done the (much smaller) Waitavala Water Slides a previous day on the trip and felt the fury of much smaller waterfalls… I passed on this!

Do You Need to Hire a Guide for the Lavena Coastal Walk?

view along the way to the lavena coastal walk with tree fluttering in the wind

The Lavena Coastal Walk is well-marked and well-maintained thanks to its entry fee and the villagers who take care to maintain the trail’s beauty and safety.

You could easily navigate it without a guide… but I’d argue that you really shouldn’t.

For one, a guide will show you what’s safe (or relatively safe, I suppose) in the waterfall area, such as where to climb, jump, slide, etc. on the falls.

This is their playground — they know it best!

​Our guide also pointed out local plants — kava, taro, cassava, and other plants essential to the Fiji culture and cuisine — and told us cool stories about some of the islands’ plant life.

More on that below!

What Plants Will You See on the Lavena Coastal Walk?

The white 'hairy blossom' style flower of the putu tree in Taveuni Fiji on the Lavena Coastal Walk

From our guide on the Lavena Coastal Walk, we learned about this beautiful pink flower we had seen on the ground several times.

It comes from the fish poison tree, or putu in Fijian language (officially called the Barringtonia asiatica by botanists). 

Its name in English stems from how its seeds contain toxic saponins, which can be ground into a powder and used to stun and stupefy fish, so that they float to the surface of the water for easy catching.

While it may seem a bit strange, this method of fishing has been used by Indigenous peoples from various cultures around the continents for centuries.

This tree is very interesting for multiple reasons — obviously, its toxic aspects are very interesting, but there’s also way more to it than just this!

The flower of this tree also only blooms after sunset and falls to the ground as soon as the sun rises the next day, living a short but beautiful life.

pink and white fluffy putu flower that serves as a seed/fruit of the plant on the ground

This short life is by design, though: the flower of putu tree is more akin to a coconut than any flower you can imagine, as it has evolved to be dispersed by sea rather than by animal pollinators.

Able to survive more than a decade in the ocean, this plant has managed to spread from Oceania to tropical parts of Asia, as far away as Bangladesh.

Once it finally makes its journey across an ocean and washes ashore, when it is finally soaked in fresh rainwater, the seed inside the flower germinates, and a full tree can grow wherever it landed.

Pretty cool, right? I never would have known all this without the help of a guide, and would have thought of it as a mere pretty flower like no other!

You’ll also see the kava plant (whose roots are matured for 3-5 years before being dug up, dried, and ground into powder for consumption) — a major part of social ritual and community in Fiji.

the kava plant in fiji, whose roots make a slightly intoxicating beverage which is a popular drink amongst fijians and a key part of the culture

Our guide also showed us other important Fijian crops, like taro (the root of the alocasia, now a popular houseplant in many parts of the world.

We also saw what a mature cassava plant looks like. Cassava is a staple food in Fiji, which when raw, contains cyanide, but is perfectly safe once soaked and cooked.

As someone who watched a little too much Naked and Afraid during the pandemic lockdowns… this almost equalled my enjoyment of the waterfalls at the end of the hike!

Other Ways to Experience Lavena

flyers in the visitor center at lavena coastal walk
These flyers show the different options available for boat tours and waterfall hikes in Lavena!

While the Lavena Coastal Walk is the most popular option for tourists visiting Lavena, there are definitely other ways to experience the charm of this part of Taveuni.

The next-most popular way is exploring the waterfalls by boat, or one-half by foot and the other half by boat.

We didn’t choose this option (we had been on a boat all day, and we wanted to hike!)… and it ended up being good, because the water was actually really choppy as we noticed on our hike, and my stomach contents would have been in the sea in mere minutes.

On a more tranquil day, though, I imagine this would be a great choice to do — though it is a little pricy, admittedly.

walk along the beach portion of the lavena coastal hike

A boat tour costs 165 FJD ($73 USD) for the most basic tour to only the first waterfalls. I believe this is equivalent to skipping most of the hike to Wainibau Falls and just doing the interior portion that must be done on foot.

If your party is 4 or more, then it costs 45 FJD ($20 USD) per person for this first boat tour option.

There are more options, such as the tour that brings you also to the second waterfall, a cascade of three falls. For 3 or less, it costs $200 FJD for the boat. If your party is 4 or more, then it costs 50 FJD ($22 USD) per person.

The last boat tour option includes the furthest-away waterfalls for 300 FJD ($132 USD) for parties of 3 or less, or 80 FJD ($35 USD) per person for parties of 4 or more.

One final way you can experience Lavena is by choosing to stay the night! I didn’t even realize this was an option, but I noticed in the visitor center that they offer accommodations for 30 FJD ($13 USD) per person per night.

I’m not sure what you’d do for food, but I imagine this is a homestay-style situation where you can also add on a meal with a local family.

Can You Visit Lavena Coastal Walk and Tavoro Waterfall in One Day?

allison  green at tavoro waterfalls after going for a swim in the pools

One thing I noticed about Lavena when looking at the map is that it’s in Bouma National Heritage Park, same as the Tavoro Waterfall (also known as Bouma Waterfalls).

The short answer is yes — you can, if you get an early start and don’t mind totaling up about 3 hours hiking in Lavena and another 3 hours hiking in Bouma, sure. 

You’d need to prepare for this though, by eating a hearty breakfast before you leave, hiring a taxi for the full-day to make round-trip smoother, and packing your own lunch, since there isn’t anywhere to buy lunch between Lavena and Bouma.

​I’ll be writing about the Tavoro Waterfall hike next, so keep an eye out!

This would be a grueling day unless you’re a highly experienced hiker who doesn’t mind hiking from dawn ’til dusk, but it’s definitely doable if you’re trying to save money on taxi costs or fit multiple things into a packed schedule.

The travel time between the trailheads for the Lavena Coastal Walk and Bouma Falls is quite short, vs. the travel time to reach Bouma National Heritage Falls from Matei (at least an hour), so it may be sensible to combine them if you like to do a lot of hiking!