MATEI, jutting out on the northernmost tip of Taveuni, is the ideal base for exploring the island: lying midway between the Bouma National Heritage Park and Rainbow Reef, it offers plenty of water-based activities, pleasant beaches and a good selection of restaurants. This modern settlement of around five hundred people is a mix of old colonial families, Indian entrepreneurs and a new wave of foreigners living the dream in luxury oceanfront villas. The settlement stretches along the main coastal road either side of the small bluff known as Naselesele Point.
Two kilometres west of Naselesele Point is Beverley Beach, a deep sandy gem backed by lush hardwood trees. The coral reef here lies close to shore and offers great snorkelling along a 30m-deep drop-off, with reef sharks occasionally paying a visit. Confident swimmers can also reach the snorkelling reef off Natadrua Island, in the sheltered lagoon 700m off the north side of Matei, but it’s best to paddle out on a kayak.