East of Viti Levu and southeast of Vanua Levu, the island of Taveuni offer the best snorkeling in Fiji. Taveuni is surrounded by reefs with plentiful soft corals flourishing in the nutrient rich waters, and it has numerous shore-accessed and boat-accessed snorkeling dive spots. Known as the Garden Island by the Fijians, Taveuni has rainforests that cover about 60 percent of the island.
The most popular on the island is the shore-accessed Waitabu Marine Park. Located southeast of Matei, the protected marine park is spread across 27 hectares and is known for exceptional biodiversity among the colorful reef formations. There are almost 300 species of hard coral present and over 1,000 species of reef fish, along with some returning giant clams. But before heading to Waitabu Marine Park, you’ll need to pay your reservation fee in-advance.
Offshore of Waitabu Marine Park and to the southeast of Matei, there is a boat-accessed snorkel spot surprisingly called Coral Garden. There are several boat companies in Matei that run out to this dive site. Note, there have been more frequent shark sightings and shark attacks in the waters to the southeast of Matei.
But, the best Taveuni snorkeling from shore is Vuna Lagoon Reef. Located on the southwestern tip of Taveuni Island, there is a barrier reef protecting the waters of the large lagoon. The closer you get to the barrier reef, you may encounter white-tipped reef sharks and leopard sharks, in addition to the usual blue spotted stingrays, sea turtles, barracuda, moorish idols and moray eels. After snorkeling, make sure to check out the Vuna Blow Holes back on shore.
Also on the west coast, the Korolevu Island has good snorkeling off its western point. This boat-accessed island is located about half-way down the western coast to the northeast of the village of Waiyevo. There are several boat tour companies that run out to the island. The best snorkeling on Korolevu Reef is found on the west tip of the island where you’ll fid giant clams, moray eels, sea snakes and an occasional reef shark.
Last, but not least, the well-known Rainbow Reef is also accessible from Taveuni Island. There are several scuba boats that head over, but keep in mind it’s a 40 minute boat ride. Also, you’ll want to make sure the boats are actually going to one of the three good snorkel spots at the 40km long Rainbow Reef including the Fish Factory, Cabbage Patch or the Nuku Reef coral gardens. While snorkeling at Rainbow Reef, you may encounter eels, giant clams, dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays and sharks.
To reach the Taveuni Island snorkeling, you'll need to fly into the only international airport in Fiji, Nadi International Airport (NAN), which is served by Fiji Airways, Qantas, and Air New Zealand. Many of the flights arrive very late at night, so plan accordingly. When arriving in Fiji from the US, keep in mind that most flights arrive very early in the morning and Fiji is just across the international date line, so you’ll effectively land two days after departing the US. Oddly, there are few inter-island flights from Nadi airport. You’ll need to get over to the Suva airport on the other side of Viti Levu by short flight or taxi. From Suva Airport, there are regular inter-island flights from Suva to the Matei Airport on the northern end of Taveuni Island.
TIP: The Fijian cyclone/typhoon rainy season starts in November and ends in late March. There have been periodic cyclones that have caused damage to both the reefs and to the resorts, including those in 2012 and 2016. It may be worth contacting a local dive shop or resort about cyclone impacts before booking. The best Fiji snorkeling is typically from May through October during the dry winter season, but be aware that the water becomes cooler as the winter season progresses.
Overall, Taveuni Island is the 13th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 22 snorkeling dives in Fiji.