Fiji

4.29166666667
(6 REVIEWS)

Country: Fiji

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Intro to Fiji - A group of roughly 330 tropical islands in Melanesia in the South Pacific, Fiji is roughly 1100 miles northeast of New Zealand. The capital and gateway city, Nadi, is located on Viti Levu, one of the two major islands. Fiji is an amazing place with beautiful islands, friendly and fun people, a vibrant native culture and some of the best diving in the world. Jacques Cousteau coined it the Soft Coral Capital of the World - that name has stuck and given Fiji much of its diving identity.

Here is what Bluewater Travel's Mark Strickland has to say about Fiji: "I could never pick just one favorite dive destination, but Fiji certainly ranks among my top three". Quite a statement coming from such a well traveled underwater photographer!

 Dive Overview -  Fiji is known for its abundant soft corals, but there’s also a wider spectrum of colors than I’ve seen anywhere else. These vibrant hues, combined with healthy hard corals, dramatic topography, typically clear water and a great variety of reef fish make Fiji’s underwater scenery second to none. It’s also home to some of the best shark diving on the planet.
 
Watch this awesome video to give you a great feel for what it would be like to dive in Fiji!
Nice selection of footage from Fiji by Walter Marti, showing an amazing diversity of life. Jacks at 0:40, barracuda at 0:50, sharks at 1:01, grouper at 1:43, garden eels at 2:25, goby/shrimps at 2:35, soft corals at 3:50, sea snake at 5:21, anthias at 6:08

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Diving Information 

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Marine Life & Photography Subjects

Fiji is home to an amazing variety of fish life, including colorful angelfish, anemone fish, anthias, frogfish, hawkfish, moray eels, ghost pipefish, and countless other photogenic species.

Blue Ribbon Eels are also fantastic subjects. The yellow and blue males are full of personality and if you search hard, you can find the female (all yellow) and juvenile (black with a yellow stripe). The black juveniles are difficult to photograph.

Sharks do exist in Fiji though they are not found on every dive, with Beqa being the one exception. The most common species seen are grey reef, white tip reef, silvertip, and hammerhead. Sharks always make great subjects, but reef sharks are difficult to get close to. For real shark action, do the shark dive in Beqa Lagoon. Here’s you’ll see up to 8 different species of sharks numbering in the dozens, including very large bull sharks and a massive tiger shark that makes semi-regular appearances.

Other fun subjects include banded sea snakes, several species of turtles, and pelagics like tuna, barracuda, and occasionally manta rays.

There are also plenty of macro opportunities. While diversity is not as great as Southeast Asia's coral triangle, there is still a wide range of species here, including mantis shrimp, decorator crabs, bobtail squid, and many different nudibranchs.

Camera and lens tips: You’ll definitely want two strobes to get full light coverage in your frame. Use as much strobe power as possible to illuminate the soft corals and really make them shine. Fortunately, soft corals don’t move so you can get as close as you want. Bracket and really work on your blue backgrounds. Get close to the soft coral with a fisheye lens. Fiji is a great place to get close to the coral and practice your wide-angle technique. Take your time, put your strobes on manual, and get your exposures right.

Fiji underwater video from Beqa Lagoon, with a close-up encounter with the tiger shark at 1:50
 
Fiji - The Soft Coral Capital

In Fiji, it’s all about the corals. The colors are so incredibly vibrant and the anthias so plentiful that it’s hard to ever look away. Around every corner is the next world class image. Remember to get in the current. One of the main draws of diving Fiji are the reef scenes - they are quite spectacular!

The gorgeous, lush, color-splashed images of Fiji that you see in dive publications are courtesy of a soft coral called dendronephthya. Few other places in the world offer such an abundance of this coral, nor the wide spectrum of colos, ranging from pink, purple, orange, yellow and fiery red. Dendronephthya soft coral needs current. With little current present, the soft corals are muted, but as the current increases, they inflate with water and their color really begins to glow.

As the current picks up, planktivores such as beautifully colored scalefin anthias spring up off the reef in polarized schools. Together, this forms a rich pageantry of color. Underwater photographers will want to shoot when some current is present, making a dramatic difference in the color of underwater imagery.

The best places for soft coral in Fiji are the Bligh Waters between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu where there are numerous reefs and pinnacles, the Somosomo Strait between Taveuni and Vanua Levu, and Namena Island and its marine protected area.

Fiji Typical Dive - The majority of diving is done as drift dives, allowing you to cover large distances and see walls of soft corals. Current is your friend in Fiji, as it brings out the soft corals while wildlife piles up on the current side of boomies. As a photographer, you may wish to bring a reef hook - find a spot with beautiful colors, hook in, and shoot to your heart’s delight! The tops of pinnacles and bommies usually host a plethora of life. Just hook in and shoot as the current blows you around. Always have a safety sausage so the tender boat can see you when you surface. Despite what you may have been told, soft corals are not everywhere in Fiji – you need to go to specific areas. Likewise, there are some stunning hard coral reefs in Fiji that nobody talks about, great macro, some good pelagic life, and the best shark dive in the world.
 
Diving Conditions

Water Temperature: Dry season (June - Sep) temps are in the mid 70s, with August being the coolest month. Wet season (Dec - Apr) temps are in the low 80s. with Feb/Mar being the warmest months underwater.

Visibility: During the dry season, visibility is often 100’+ outside the lagoons. The Bligh Waters can have high visibility even in the wet season, ranging from 80-100ft.

Weather: Fiji is warm and tropical most of the time with temperatures ranging between 31°C between 26°C all year round.

Diving Highlights -  Here are the areas to dive in Fiji:

TAVEUNI - Taveuni offers great diving on the famous Rainbow reef, which lies in the Somosomo strait and has great soft corals and lots of reef sharks like whitetips, gray reef sharks and nurse sharks. There can be currents, so it's not necessarily for beginners. However, the soft corals look their best in the currents!

BEQA LAGOON - Beqa Lagoon has beautiful reefs, a great variety of marine life and is also home to one of the best shark dives in the world, with several species of sharks appearing. From Nadi, it's a 2.5 hour car ride, followed by a 45 minute boat ride.

MAIN ISLAND OF VITI LEVU / BLIGH WATERS - From the main island, it's a 2-3 hour drive to your resort. Staying in the central north coast in the Rakiraki area means that you can dive the bligh waters directly from your resort, with just a 50 minute boat ride. In the Bligh Waters you can see beautiful soft corals, sharks (including hammerheads on occassion) and turtles. The Bligh Waters are home to famous dive sites such as Mellow Yellow, which has gorgeous yellow soft corals.

VATU-I-RA PASSAGE - In the Bligh Waters lies the Vatu-I-Ra passage, home to some of Fiji's best dive sites and the most amazing soft coral reefscapes. The passage lies on the northeast coast of Viti Levu, and the reefs display the most spectacular rainbow of colors. E6 is one of the most famous dive sites of the passage.

KADAVU AND THE ASTROLAB REEF - Kadavu is an island south of the main island and is less visited than most of the other islands on Fiji. The resorts on the island offer an "Eco" experience. The area is remote and pristine, and the diving has great coral and marine life, including manta ray cleaning stations. It is also known for having less current than other places like the Bligh Waters or the Rainbow Reef near Taveuni. There are a lot of fish and a good number of reef sharks. Many of the dive sites are short boat rides from the resots. Topside activites include kayaking, visiting waterfalls, and great birdwatching.

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Travel Information 

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How to Get There - Fiji’s department of tourism has done its homework and made Fiji one of the easiest places to get to for diving in the Pacific. Flight schedules are good and fares on the national airline, Fiji Airways, are very reasonable. Fiij is quite easy to get to from the USA. There are daily direct redeye flights from Los Angeles to Nadi. You cross over the international dateline along the way so a Thursday night flight gets you into Nadi on Saturday morning. If staying there, you simply transfer to your hotel or meet your liveaboard. When departing, you fly out of Nadi in the late evening and return to LAX in the afternoon of the same day - you get back the day that you lost going over the dateline. If flying to one of the outer islands, the domestic terminal is next door to the international arrival hall and island flights are usually less than one hour. You are relaxing in your beachfront bure by noon!
 
How to Dive Fiji -  There are a range of choices of dive resort based on comfort level. Liveaboards are also available and they rate as some of the best in the world.
 

Weather -  June through October is the dry season. During that time, the water is clearest (100’+) but it can be windy and water temps can drop into the mid 70s. The wet season runs from December to April. The winds die down and visibility is lower but still typically quite good (60’+) and water temps are in the low 80s. Hurricane season is December through March. The transitional months of November and May might be the best times to go. However, keep in mind that weather can be different on different islands. The jungle mountains of Viti Levu top out at over 4000’ and create their own weather. Quite often, clouds form by the afternoon and dissipate as early morning rain showers arrive. The northern part of Viti Levu usually has clearer weather than the south.

 

Topside & Non-Diving Activities -  Unlike many other remote dive destinations, Fiji provides a host of non-diving activities to enjoy on your days off. You could easily spend a day or two (or more!) enjoying the island of Viti Levu. Here you’ll find waterfalls, caves, ziplines, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, authentic villages, temples, and even a championship golf course. If you choose to venture to some of the outer islands there are a number of day cruises, charters, and boat hires.


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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

Currency: Fijian Dollar

Language: Fiji has three official languages - English, Fijian and Hindi

Time Zone: UTC+12

Electricity: 240 V 50Hz 

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Reviews (6)

  • Reviewer
Pasadena, CA
United States
3
3
3
4

Fiji has been called the "Coral Capital of the World" which led us to believe that the reefs would rival those of the Red Sea and the Maldives, which in my opinion it did not. We dove the famous white wall on three different occasions. Dive guides will watch tide charts to determine the best time to dive it. If there is no current, the corals will not be feeding and will be diminished in apparent size. If there is too much current, the corals will be fuller but the divers will fly by too fast and not really see it. When we saw it the first time, it did not equal our expectations, but was better than either of the subsequent times. It was like individual small clumps of coral spaced at about 18 inches on center. I was never aware of much current which might explain why the wall failed to impress. The wall can be accessed through a tunnel starting at about 40 feet and dropping to about 70 feet.

The purple wall is not as big, but its color makes it lovely. The current was quite strong on our visit so it was pretty much a purple blur.

Hard corals are varied and abundant. Unfortunately, not all were healthy. One particular table coral I remember had a section that appeared bleached, another section that was covered in moss, and yet another portion that appeared healthy.

We were also disappointed by the fish life. Yes there were the normal schools of snappers, fusiliers, butterfies and angelfish, but they didn't seem as numerous or as varied. The sharks we saw in 33 dives can be counted on one hand, but we did see 8 eagle rays which is a personal high.

Nudibranches: one variety of chromodoris, one variety of nembrotha, one variety of glosidoris, and maybe 5 or 6 phyllidias.

Fish factory and Coral Garden were exceptions where quantity of fish was more abundant.

The water temperature in September was 75 degrees.

Visability is never as good as I hope for. During our 2 weeks there it ranged from 30-50 feet at which you could detect the presence of another diver.

There are two very nice National Parks on Taveuni. The Lavena Coastal walk is a pleasant walk along the beach for about an hour and then about a half hour incline that leads to a waterfall. Plan to swim in the pool below and maybe even climb up the rocks and slide down the smaller falls on the left, but be careful as the rocks are slippery. Buoma Park has 3 waterfalls; the first and most famous is a easy 10 minute walk. The highest fall is at least an hour climb and though a bit stenuous, is well worth the effort.

The Fijian people are quite friendly.

Visited on 09/2014 - Submitted on 09/29/2014
5
5
5
5

Diving in Fiji is beautiful both above and below the waterline. The water temp only varies a few degrees throughout the year. A 3 mil suit should keep most divers happy. There are the most beautiful hard and soft corals that can only be matched by Raja Ampat. Abundant fish life from the tops of the reefs to the depths of the clear waters ae a photographers dream. Fiji is my chosen dive destinationfor a few reasons-easy to get to;the Fijian people are the most friendly people on the earth, and lastly the types of sea creatures are varied and unique. No matter what your dive leval is there are dive sites for all. You can find 7 star resorts if that is your thing or backpackers specials or anything in between.Fijian food is wonderful but almost any type of food is available-the fruits out of this world. Accomodations vary depending on the thickness of your wallet !! No matter what your accomodatins are like the diving in Fiji is second to none.

Visited on 09/2014 - Submitted on 09/03/2014
  • Top Reviewer
4
5
5
5

I had the chance to visit Fiji in early December of 2013, and had a wonderful time diving as well as exploring on land. We stayed on Beqa Island, so the island itself is very rustic, and you can walk into the villages or do some day hikes near by. Diving was primarily done in the morning, and with 6 dives days, we scheduled two of those to be the famous bull shark feeding dive. No regrets!

The reef dives were beautiful, with many soft corals for beautiful reefscapes, and very rich in color and life. For me, the highlight really was the ability to dive with bull sharks. Our trips were organized through Beqa Lagoon Resort, and we were very happy with how professionally they were run. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to see these huge animals up close. Bring a camera ...any kind! You'll definitely want pictures or video!

The weather was warm, in the 80s and water temps were 78-81 during our trip. You can also do some snorkeling and other activities like kayaking or jet skis around the island. We primarily dove in the mornings, came back for lunch and showers and then spent afternoons doing more topside or surface water activities, so Fiji is a destination that is friendly for non-divers as well.

And last but not least, try the Kava, at least once.

Visited on 12/2013 - Submitted on 06/18/2014
4
3
4
3

Diving in Fiji has been one of the best diving experiencies I have ever had. The main reason was the diving in Beqa lagoon Shark Dive.
The diving guides were totally outstanding as I have never seen before that familiarity with the sharks. First you go down to aproximately 25 m and have to lay down while the shark expert guide do the feeding to many bull sharks. If you are lucky you can get to see the tiger shark. Unfortunately it did not come on the days I was diving over there. But still having around 15 bull sharks is very intimidating. And they get really close!!!
On the way up you stop at 15 m to stay with grey sharks and white tip sharks and finally in the security stop the diving guide do the feeding to the playfull black tips. and the feeding is literally giving the chunks of fish in the mouth of the shark.
The briefing was very detailed and actually the way in which the feeding is done seems quite correct. I have always been against the feeding but this people is doing it very conciously and it seems in the right way.
After these dives I visit other parts of Fiji and the feeding was done without any precaution and in a totally different way. Meaning without control while in Beqa everything seems to be under control
I would recommend this dive to any one who likes sharks, because it is just awesome!!

Visited on 09/2011 - Submitted on 02/26/2014
  • Reviewer
Chino Hills, CA
United States
4
4
5
5

Bula! My first dive destination after I became certified was to Fiji. We stayed in Nadi, which is close enough to the Mamanutha islands that you can easily plan a 3 dive day trip to many of the islands and surrounding reefs. These islands offer all kinds of diving for all levels of divers, however, we found that the reefs there were a bit disappointing and covered with silt. The water conditions were ideal, with 80 degrees F and visibility from 100+ feet. These islands offer shark diving, drift diving, walls, and a large variety of fish, crustaceans, and critters. In addition, there are lots of tours offered to visit these islands from the main island. You can visit several of them by sailboat in a day, or stay in a resort on one of the tiny islands.

We also dived up near Raki Raki (northeast part of the island, about a two hour drive from Nadi Airport) on the beautiful "Golden Dream" and "Dreammaker" dive sites in the Bligh waters. Although we did this in a day, I would recommend staying in one of the lovely resorts along the Northeast coast of the island. These boasted incredible 60 foot tall coral columns, soft corals, and all kinds of marine life from sharks to nudibranchs. I would highly recommend the northern waters of Vitu Levu, the largest island, for diving. The reefs are beautiful, healthy and full of colorful life. The water temperatures are warm year round (78 to 82 degrees F), and the visibility is great.

The people of Fiji were warm and welcoming. We found plenty to do on the islands with activities that included hiking in the lush rain forests, sailing, fishing, and special village tours where we obtained permission from the clan chief to explore their land. Fiji will forever be one of my favorite dive and travel destinations.

Visited on 05/2011 - Submitted on 02/04/2014