The island of Taveuni is a vast and luscious garden: a tropical flower garden on land and a coral garden beneath the sea. It is easy to get to, relatively small, and far from crowded. Bring an umbrella, though: it rains here.
Taveuni's volcanic past is evident in its many black-sand beaches, but the beaches at Lavena and Matei have some white sand and are good for swimming and snorkelling. The nearby islands of Laucala, Matagi and Qamea have stunning beaches. The eastern side of the island has dramatic waterfalls while the southern coast boasts caves and blowholes.
Indigenous Fijians make up most of Taveuni's population, with a few hundred Indo-Fijians and a growing number of expats, mainly North Americans. Taveuni is the chiefly island for the northern part of Fiji. The Tui Cakau (King of the Reef) is based in Somosomo. It is the third-highest chiefly title in Fiji, and more than one branch of a fractured family would like to claim it as their own. Accordingly, there's a low rumble of traditional politics bubbling below the surface. The current Tui Cakau supported Speight's 2000 coup.
There are no big towns on the island. Taveuni's main income is from agriculture, mostly copra and to a lesser extent dalo (taro plant) and kava crops. Many of Taveuni's hotels, restaurants and dive shops are in Matei, within walking distance of the airport. The land here was once a single copra plantation, since subdivided and sold.