For divers desperately seeking sharks – very big sharks and lots of them – there are few dive destinations in the world that can equal shark diving in Fiji’s Beqa Lagoon.
Fiji is actually home to five wonderful shark dives, where sharks are lured in close with baits and hand fed for the amazement and wonder of divers. However, Fiji’s two most famous and popular shark feeds occur in Beqa Lagoon, off the town of Pacific Harbour, on the southern coast of the main island of Vitu Levu.
We first experienced the incredible shark dives in Beqa Lagoon on a visit to Fiji a decade ago. The experience left us in awe, seeing so many sharks up close was an unforgettable adventure. And we have since returned several times to photograph and observe these spectacular creatures.
The most recent visit was in March in a trip arranged by Tourism Fiji, to promote the island nation to travel agents and travel writers. The week-long trip saw our group exploring colourful reefs off Rakiraki and Beqa Lagoon, but as self-confessed shark junkies we were once more looking forward to diving with the sharks.
Arriving in Pacific Harbour, three hours drive south of Nadi, our first night was at the wonderful Uprising Beach Resort. Located on a pretty beach and set between the palm trees, this fantastic resort has very comfortable villas and bures. Many diving friends have stayed at Uprising before, and we could see why they enjoyed it and keep going back. But we barely had time to enjoy the facilities as early the next morning we were diving with Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD).
After sorting out gear we boarded one of BAD’s dive boats for the trip out to Shark Reef. Dive guide Ben then gave us a briefing on the site and the dos and don’ts around the sharks. For the first dive we headed down to 30m and positioned ourselves behind a rock wall. The guides then started to feed the assembled fish and sharks. The two main shark species were several small grey reef sharks and several larger bull sharks, with the bull sharks claiming most of the food.
The action was intense and after 15 minutes our guides led us up to 10m where the reef sharks get fed. This feed appeared to be complete chaos, but was well controlled by the guides with dozens of grey reef and whitetip reef sharks zooming in for food.
The final part of the dive was spent at 5m, where the blacktip reef sharks and whitetip reef sharks got fed as we did our safety stop. It was a wonderful dive and great to get close to these usually shy sharks.
The second dive started at a depth of 25m where again, we watched several bull sharks coming in for a feed, followed by a tour of the nearby coral reef.
Moving accommodation, our group checked into The Pearl, the most luxurious resort in Pacific Harbour. Our wonderful room was in the new complex overlooking the pool and garden. With a spa, golf course and other facilities, The Pearl may not suit every divers budget or taste, but if you want a bit of luxury it is hard to beat.
The next day was more shark diving, this time with Aqua Trek. Aqua Trek started the shark diving business in Beqa Lagoon in 1999 and visit their shark feeding site at Lake Reef four times a week.
With everyone keen for more shark action, we soon found ourselves at The Bistro, perched behind a rock wall at 22m and being buzzed by silvertip sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, grey reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, bull sharks and tawny nurse sharks. There must have been over sixty sharks and the action was intense but well controlled. At one stage a small tiger shark made a brief appearance, but it was too wary to come in close. After forty fun filled minutes we waved goodbye to the sharks and explored one of the two ships scuttled at the site.
The second dive at The Bistro was just as good, but as the hyperactive silvertip sharks had departed, the rest of the sharks were more settled. We managed to capture many incredible images, but it is amazing how many times a tiny damselfish can get between the shark and camera to ruin a photo!
Our group enjoyed two incredible days of shark diving in Beqa Lagoon and we can’t wait to return to this destination, as there is a new shark dive in Beqa Lagoon that attracts up to eight tiger sharks!
This article written by Nigel Marsh and his partner Helen Rose, who were guests of Tourism Fiji.