A 15-minute flight or short boat ride east of Suva, the Lomaiviti Group is a world away. The group is comprised of nine rugged main islands and a few smaller ones dotting the Pacific Ocean and the Koro Sea. Most of the islands are home to pre-European villages. A 200-meter cliff called "Chieftain's Leap" on Wakaya Island was the jumping point for a chief and many of his followers who faced capture by advancing enemies in 1848. The island is now owned by Fiji Water mogul David Gilmour and is the site of one of the country's most exclusive resorts. On Leleuvia, guests can walk from the small rustic resort to a large metal "Kannibal Pot" in the middle of the island.
It's a long, bumpy ride from the Bureta airstrip to the town of Levuka on Ovalau, the group's largest island, and every small jolt seems to knock back the hands of time. The group's only town was the British colony's capital 1874-82 and appears stuck in a time warp, with only the motorized pulse of Fiji's largest fish cannery to disturb its paint-chip wood-frame houses and affable, easygoing residents from their late-19th-century sleep. History buffs will marvel at the breathing colonial relic that is Beach Street. The culturally curious will be rapt with a day tour into the heart of Ovalau or the angelic a cappella voices of the natives at a church service on any island.
Certified divers get the chance to see Scalloped Hammerheads, Blue Ribbon eels, and many other large and small species amid little human traffic in the Lomaiviti's depths. All will appreciate the white sand and cobalt waters of the off-shore islands. Your budget and taste may lead you to a mid-range family resort, an ultraluxury hideaway frequented by celebrities, a century-old hotel, or a rustic resort with communal meals and shared bathrooms. Nowhere in Fiji will seem farther away from home than the latter two, replete with the charm and simplicity of these time-forgotten islands.