There's something magical about volcanoes. They are truly awesome structures, formed only by the sheer force of nature's slow, imperceptible (to us) movement of tectonic plates and the incredible force of magma working its way up from the earth's core. Their formation and activity has the power to cause immense destruction, but also to create new landmasses and, therefore, support life.
Fiji's relationship with volcanoes is more intriguing than most, considering the country is made up of various volcanic islands. The impact of volcanoes can be seen everywhere, from the geography to the local legends. It's understandable that Fijian culture would develop to grant volcanoes a mythical stature, with the Bulletin of Volcanology estimating that on the island of Taveuni alone, as many as 25 eruptions may have been experienced by pre-European inhabitants.
In terms of the local myths that grew from such activity, one of the most interesting is the tale of Tanovo. Legend tells that when one of Tanovo's rivals used his volcano (Nabukelevu) to block the view of the west, Tanovo lost his temper and began to remove earth from the base of the mountain to get his rightful sunset back. He was interrupted by his rival and in a hasty escape, Tanovo dropped some of the earth into the sea, creating the Fijian islands that we know today as Dravuni and Galoa.
Tales like this one are fascinating, because they show the extent to which ancient Fijians were aware of the correlation between volcanic activity (in this case, Tanovo and his rival doing battle) and the creation of new landmasses.
While Fiji may have been a more actively volcanic region in the distant past, today its volcanoes are largely quiet. Taveuni is the biggest and most well-known, and as Fiji's third largest island, it's also one of the most popular to visit. With a summit over a kilometre high, the peak is an imposing presence on the Fijian skyline, and several resorts have sprung up on the island to facilitate eager travellers looking to hike through the beautiful scenery that surrounds the shield-shaped behemoth.
Two other volcanoes worth mentioning are Koro and Nabukelevu (the blight on Tanovo's skyline). Like Taveuni, these two volcanoes are popular tourist attractions. Many travellers choose to spend a few days on the islands experiencing not only the majesty of the volcanoes, but also the coral reefs around them that feature some of Fiji's most popular diving spots.
If you're heading to Fiji, make you sure you dedicate some time to checking out these incredible creations of nature, even if only from a distance.
Who knows when you might get the chance again!
- Posted in Fiji