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The Lomaiviti Islands

The sixteen islands of the Lomaiviti Group form a neat triangular cluster in the heart of the Fiji archipelago, twenty kilometres east of Viti Levu and fifty kilometres south of Vanua Levu . In the nineteenth century it was indeed the heartbeat of the country with European whalers who made camp beside the deep harbour village of Levuka on Ovalau which eventually became the first capital of Fiji . Lying gracefully beneath steep rainforest mountains the colonial setting of Levuka Town remains the regions main tourist attraction, yet the number of visitors is blissfully insignificant. Surrounding Ovalau, a handful of small islands lie within a fifteen kilometre radius, entwined within stunning coral reefs and flaunting secluded white sandy beaches and hill forts. These islands make fascinating destinations for snorkelling, lounging and exploring. Further east, the Outer Lomaiviti consist of half a dozen high volcanic islands but with virtually to tourist infrastructure.

The six islands of the Outer Lomaiviti have few iconic attractions. Extensive coral reefs around Makogai and Wakaya are highly regarded by scuba diving enthusiasts, assessable on live- aboard dive boats or from Levuka. The large volcanic islands of Koro and Gau are the fifth and sixth largest landmasses in Fiji respectively, rising out of the Koro Sea some fifty kilometres east of Ovalau. It’s surprising how undeveloped these two islands are. Both are blessed with rich agricultural land and large indigenous populations, but neglected by government, they are difficult to get to, even harder to explore and consequently well of the tourist trail..

Seventy kilometres north east of Ovalau and less than fifty kilometres south of Vanua Levu is the triangular shaped island of Koro . Rising to a peak of 560 metres, this volcanic island has splendid views from its inland road with bush tracks and waterfalls amongst its tropical forests. The largest village is Nasau, mid way along the east coast about five kilometres north of the airstrip and has a hospital, post office, a cooperative store and government headquarters. The women of Koro are renowned for their finely woven handicrafts, particularly mats and fans. There is currently no accommodation on Koro so the only way to visit is by receiving an invite from a local family..

The substantial 140 square kilometre island of Gau lies sixty kilometres south of Koro and is characterized by dense rainforest on its high ridges, grasslands in the lower hills, sandy beaches along the south coast and mangroves in the north from where the islands of Nairai and Batiki can be seen. The largest village is Qarani, home to internationally acclaimed rugby superstar Waisale Serevi, with the safest anchorage for yachts and the island’s only doctor. The road around Gau has long been overgrown and dysfunctional so travel between villages is by small boat or bush track.

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