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Fiji Outback

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When I first explored Fiji in 1983, Sitiveni Yagona was General Manager of Air Fiji. A clever fellow and kind heart, he never charged overweight fees for my kayak expedition gear. Together we co-operated on an effort that opened Eastern Fiji's best spots to kayaks.

Siti just retired as President of the Fiji Visitors Bureau, but he never stops working. Now he's pro bono sparkplug of the Fiji Anti-crime Commission and AIDS Eradication project. But as I develop my 25-Year Anniversary Fiji programs, we came with this excellent budget itinerary that allows you to explore authentic Fiji with style and efficiency.

Fiji Outback is available with nine levels of service. You can see Ovalau, Vanua Levu, and Taveuni with your choice of nine levels of service, always staying in lodging we inspected and approved, and in a style that takes you away from mainstream tourism and into the embrace of real, down home Fiji.

The lodging we selected is tops for each area, yet offers deluxe, standard and dormitory lodging. Suva's Raintree Lodge is surrounded by lakes and forest, the totally rebuilt New Mavida is on Levuka's beachfront, and Savusavu's Daku Lodge is beachfront, backed by jungle and 20 minutes walk into the yachting haven of Savusavu Town and Harbor. Taveuni has a wide range of lodging, but none of the resorts offer multi-level services. We use Vuna Lodge on the North Coast and Lavena Lodge on the South Coast, with a variety of standard and deluxe options a short drive from the airport.

Fiji Outback is built around Patterson Brothers ferry service. Unlike Fiji's ferries famous for breakdowns, Patterson Brothers are actually mariners who worked the world on commercial ships. They ferries offer first class maintenance, seaworthiness, and marine electronics. Sail First Class, not expensive, but consider the private taxi option over the hot and crowded bus transfers. Air Fiji is your deluxe option.

Stay at Raintree Lodge to see Suva Town and the Forest Park, and then visit Fiji first capital, funky and historic Levuka. Ovalau's Circle Island drive is unusually interesting and picturesque, including a visit to a traditional village in the island's central volcanic caldera. New Mavida is new, tasteful, excellent staff and great food.

The ferry to Vanua Levu is impressive and the drive to Savusavu beautiful. Daku Lodge is new, beachfront and conveniently located. You can snorkel right from the beach.

Food is great, but be there for their traditional "Lovo" cooked in the ground.

Taveuni is Fiji's Garden Island. We have a love affair. Kayaking, hiking, waterfalls and friends make Taveuni "My" Island. The Garden Island actually "owns" me, so we gave Taveuni a two-page 48 image slide show of its own.

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