By Rick Stratton
Publisher, Dive News Network
Peppered with coral reefs, and home to warm tropical waters, Fiji is an area of the world tucked away in the ocean and shrouded with mystery and deep rich history. The people are a cultural melting pot of Polynesian, Melanesian, Micronesian, Indian, Chinese and European cultures. Temps in this island paradise range between 75 and 90 degrees and the currents are normally easy. This horseshoe-shaped collection of islands offers world class diving and hospitality to match. Most divers who visit go back again and again for good reason! Lagoons are a feature of Fiji and often the water is shallow quite a ways from shore, which makes this a great family destination because the kids can snorkel while mom and dad are diving.
Brad de Gues of Lalati Resort & Spa, located in Beqa Lagoon, says his resort is often referred to as the “Soul of Fiji” and while he admits he has a world class resort, he knows the thing giving his resort its extra shine is the fact that it is sitting in what can only be described as the Universe’s Eden. “The magic and mystery of Beqa Island is captured at Lalati Resort and Spa,” says de Gues. “We created it this way because in Fiji it is important to become a part of the mystic, not take away from it.” Lalati Resort and Spa is an all-inclusive dive resort which caters to divers and their families in every way possible. “We have a great staff and we try to meet every need of those who visit, especially our divers,” de Gues continues. “Fiji has the best diving in the world and a lot to offer divers of all skill levels. The interesting thing is we here at the Lalati see divers from all walks of life and so many of them have very different diving needs. One couple from the United States who visited recently spent their time micro diving right off our deck. They reported back to the staff that some of the best diving they have ever seen was just out the back door. How incredible is that?” de Gues explains that there is so much to see you have to come back time and time again.
There are over 100 dive sites in Beqa Lagoon, accessed by a quick 5-20 minute boat ride, as well as the thousands of other dive sites through the Fiji islands. Viola Koch, owner of Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat, located 20 minutes from Taveuni, says Fiji diving is a colorful kaleidoscope of soft corals. Her business is located on Rainbow Reef where divers will discover corals in neon yellows, oranges, reds, pinks, whites, and purples laid out like a giant rainbow beneath the calm warm waters of Fiji. “Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat is the only dive resort located on the Vanua Levu side of Fiji’s Rainbow Reef,” says Koch. “We are famous for all of the colorful soft corals and just 10 minutes away from the world famous white wall.” She further explains the White Wall looks like a ski slope, covered in white soft corals. “The White Wall is a deep dive where you go down 8 meters (26 feet) into a tunnel and come out at 27 meters (88 feet) to drift along the wall. We often get visitors who specifically want to dive the White Wall.” Koch adds marine life in the area is on a level most divers never experience unless they are in Fiji. “Tropical fish, whitetips, napoleons, blue ribbon eels - it’s like swimming in an aquarium!”
Ben Plumber, general manager of Wannanavu on the Bligh waters, says diving Fiji is like plunging into a whole different world. “We have tropical fish in every color,” says Plumber. “Dive sights with names like ‘The Amazing Maze’, ‘Breath-Taker’, ‘Golden Dreams’, ‘Mellow Yellow’, ‘G6’, ‘Black Magic Mountain’ and ‘Instant Reply’ just add to the mystique of the dive experience here in Fiji! Wannanavu is an award-winning resort perched on the northern most tip of the island; this world class hideaway is about 15 minutes away from Rakiraki by car and runs three boats for divers. Sporting a 4 star status and a world class dive shop, Wannanavu takes the divers to enjoy most of their diving in the legendary Bligh Waters, which are only 45 minutes from the resort. “There are thousands of fish frenzies on Sailstone Reef,” says Plumber. “If you are a serious diver, the Bligh Waters have to be on your bucket list. It is actually a passage way between two islands. The channel is 1-½ miles wide, so it brings a lot of current and with a lot of current comes a lot of life. It is absolutely mind blowing. And the combination of an award winning resort, in-house dive operation along with amazing dive sites proves pound for pound we are the best in the world.”
The vis in the waters of Fiji, no matter which part you are diving, averages about over 98 feet, and the surrounding waters are heavily populated with splashes of color and droves of life. The coral is so colorful, divers have given certain areas names such as “Mellow Yellow” where yellow coral blankets the site and “Purple Haze” where there is so much purple coral even Jimmy Hendricks would have been impressed!
Lynn Siebert, of Volivoli Beach Resort/Ra Divers, a resort and dive shop owned and managed by the Darling Family, says they dive the Bligh Water and that the Vatu-i-ra Passage is arguably the best diving you can find in Fiji. “This is an area which is like none other in the world and we here at Volivoli Beach Resort/Ra Divers really enjoy taking our guests out there,” says Siebert. “Divers will see amazing underwater topography as well as a large array of marine life including anemone fish, turtles, colorful soft coral and reef sharks. The islands are a great destination for divers and all of the local dive sites are growing in stature within the diving community. Dive attractions include pelagics, sharks, barrier reefs and wall diving which will take your breath away because the color is so vivid it has garnished the area an actual name, the Soft Coral Capital of the World.”
Divers searching for the end of the scuba rainbow will find it in Fiji. World class dive resorts and diving, considered the best in the world, are more than enough reason to come to Fiji And throw in the hospitality of the locals, the chance to see white tipped sharks, and thousands of tropical residents with diverse cultures and customs. It’s a perfect combination of relaxation, cultural enrichment, and excitement. How could you say no?
Special thanks to the following for their contribution: