Fiji is often overlooked as a dive destination, possibly because it doesn’t have the big wrecks of Vanuatu and the Solomons, or the exotic appeal of places like Raja Ampat and North Sulawesi. But Fiji is the soft coral capital of the world, has the third largest barrier reef in the world, is world-famous for its shark diving… and it is right on our doorstep!
What’s more it offers diving to suit all levels of experience, all stages of life, and all levels of budget. There’s the backpacker scene in the Yasawas, the family friendly fun resorts of the Mamanucas and the Coral Coast. Dotted around there are also luxury resorts to like Vomo where you’ll feel like you have the resort and whole South Pacific to yourself. You can cruise and dive on Captain Cook Cruises small cruising ships diving some of the more remote dive sites, or dive and watch bull and tiger sharks being hand fed. You can even volunteer to help in the marine environment by diving and removing Crown of Thorns sea stars. And finally there’s just regular adventurous diving in locations like Vatu-i-ra, Taveuni and Beqa Lagoon.
ONE: Shark Diving
If you want some excitement then shark diving would be for you and an obvious place to go would be Beqa Lagoon. Here you have a choice of bull shark dives with Aqua Trek’s ‘Bistro‘, Beqa Adventure Divers‘ ‘Arena‘ or Beqa Lagoon Resort’s ‘The Cathedral’. In the Yasawa Islands, Barefoot Kuata’s ‘The Awakening’ shark dive is even accessible to Open Water divers or as a Discover Scuba Experience. All of these offer a unique experience, safely putting you in very close proximity with apex predators. Note that these experiences don’t run every day – this is not a circus and the animals are not in captivity. Quite the contrary, these are wild animals and the whole experience is designed to maintain and respect that fact.
TWO: Family Fun with diving on the side
Maybe you’re in that phase of life where little people seemingly demand 110 per cent of your attention. Not an excuse not to get a few dives in. There are plenty of family-friendly resorts in the Mamanucas that offer diving, including Treasure Island, Castaway, Malolo Island Resort and Vomo. For more spectacular diving, Beqa Lagoon Resort has dedicated weeks for families with loads of activities for kids (and shark dives for the grown ups), Paradise Resort Taveuni is great for families and easy access to the world-famous Rainbow Reef, and of course, Jean Michel Cousteau Resort in Savusavu has one of Fiji’s best kids clubs and close to the spectacular Namena Marine Reserve. Captain Cook Cruises Fiji is another great choice for diving families. Many of these resorts also offer PADI Bubble Maker, Seal Team and Junior Open Water course for kids aged 8 and over.
THREE: Luxury (yes please)
A third option if you can afford it, is the luxury option. Perfect for couples, or with older children, you can still enjoy diving, but on your schedule rather than someone else’s. Staying at an exclusive island resort like Vomo you will feel literally you have the whole South Pacific to yourself. And just because you’re on an exclusive island resort doesn’t mean that the diving is any less varied or exciting. Vomo has large coral gardens, towering pinnacles with swim throughs, and dive sites like Shark Alley. Savusavu’s Jean Michel Cousteau Resort is almost as famous for it’s barefoot luxury as it is for its proximity to the Namena Marine Reserve (and namesake).
FOUR: Backpacking and Budget Diving
At the other end of the scale there are lots of travellers enjoying the diving in Fiji even on a budget, and in fact it can be one of the cheapest places to get your certification. A healthy backpacker scene has been developing in the lower Yasawas, and as well as the diving there is great (and free) snorkelling right off the beach at most resorts. You can even snorkel with manta rays between May and October staying in dormitory or glamping-style accommodation at Barefoot Kuata or Barefoot Manta Resort. In Beqa Lagoon, enjoy the shark dives on a budget staying in dormitory accommodation at Uprising Resort or Aquatrek’s Club Oceanus.
FIVE: Liveaboard diving
Small ship cruising with Captain Cook Cruises you get to dive and experience the varied local culture of the Fiji Islands, visiting some of the outer islands where the local Fijian culture is strongest. For more serious diving, the Nai’a liveaboard takes divers to the Namena Reserve, the Rainbow Reef, Kadavu and the Astrolabe Reef. The benefits of a floating dive resort are that you can wake up in a new place each morning, dive a couple of dive sites less dived, and still enjoy some other aspect of Fiji such as the landscape or a village or school visit in the afternoon.
SIX: Voluntourism – let’s give back
If you’re the type who really wants to give back then our sixth option: voluntourism might just be for you. As an example at Barefoot Manta in the Yasawas, you can work with marine biologists as they removed excess populations of Crown of Thorns sea stars, plant coral beds, and re-introduce giant clams. Programs vary from one to four weeks with various levels of involvement. Various other resorts also have coral propagation programs that guests can get involved with, including Castaway Island in the Mamanucas, and Uprising Resort in Pacific Harbour allows guests the opportunity to offset their carbon footprint by planting mangroves.
SEVEN: Just DIVE, DIVE, DIVE !!!
Finally, if you are there just to dive, dive, dive!!! and dive the most exciting and adventurous stuff around, with three dives a day and night dive possibilities, there are still plenty of options for you. The Volivoli Beach Resort‘s Ra Divers can take you to Vatu-i-ra’s famous soft coral drift dives like Wheatfields, Yellow Mellow and Instant Replay. Or try Taveuni’s Great White Wall, acknowledged as a world class dive site along with nearby Rainbow Reef. Closer to Suva, Beqa Lagoon delivers big time with dive sites like John’s Tunnel a triple whammy: reef, tunnel and largely intact wreck of a trawler. And doubtless you’d want to fit in a shark dive too while you’re there.