The second-largest Fiji island, Vanua Levu (40 mi/65 km northeast of Viti Levu) offers coconut plantations, striking mountains and bays, tropical foliage, great diving and total relaxation. It's divided ecologically and ethnically into two sections—the hot, dry, cane-planting Indian section to the north and the lush, green, copra-producing Fijian area to the south. Labasa, the main town, sits among sugarcane fields near the north shore. It's dominated by the sugar mill, which for several months of the year sends the unpleasant odor of fermenting sugar wafting over the town.
Most visitors head south to sleepy little Savusavu and its gorgeous harbor, and to nearby beaches for snorkeling and scuba diving. Nearby are a wide range of accommodations, including first-class resorts with individual bures (bungalows). The town itself has its own old colonial European hangout, the Planter's Club, where you can have a drink on the porch overlooking the bay.
The paved mountain road between Labasa and Savusavu is spectacular; local buses make the three-hour trip several times a day. The partially paved Hibiscus Highway runs through working coconut plantations reminiscent of old South Seas tales. The truly adventurous can head east up the highway to catch a ferry to Taveuni, but don't go if the weather looks bad.
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