Rugged Ovalau, considered by some to be Fiji's most beautiful island, is the site of Levuka, the country's first European capital. Few places in the South Pacific are so well-preserved—tiny Levuka appears locked in time, with storefronts that seem unchanged since the 1870s, when the town was a major trade center with a raucous reputation. (It was said that sailors navigated to Levuka by following the stream of empty liquor bottles drifting away on the outgoing tides.) Today, the town's economy is supported by a tuna-canning plant.
Hotels and guesthouses are basic, making Ovalau appealing to backpackers and other low-budget travelers—if you're not one of them, it won't be nearly so attractive.
The 1852-vintage Royal Hotel's original rooms are extremely basic by today's standards, but it has lots of 19th-century charm, and its cottages are the island's top accommodation.
Those who would rather not stay in the simple accommodations should see Levuka on a day trip from Suva. Take along an overnight bag, though, because the only afternoon flight back to Suva can be canceled without notice. Don't go just for the beach, because there really isn't one on Ovalau. Sights include a variety of churches in Levuka and the Lovoni Village in the crater of the island's extinct volcano.
Ovalau is 15 mi/25 km east of Viti Levu.
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