The image conjured up by Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands is often family fun on an island beach or newly-wed couples enjoying fine dining as the sun sets into azure waters behind them. So you might be surprised that in the Mamanuca Islands diving is becoming one of the most popular resort activities. Take a quick look at their location and you’ll see that as well as the lagoon reefs between the islands, there is a large barrier reef dropping off to open ocean.
So you’re going to get the best of both worlds: easy colourful sheltered reefs (with plenty of well-fed reef fish!), and some serious wall, drift dive and pelagic action on the outside of that barrier reef. With no shortage of great resorts and well-established dive operations, this is the perfect place for a honeymoon (or even a wedding) or to bring the young family AND to get some great diving in along the way.
Read on and discover some of the most easily accessible, comfortable and best diving in Fiji.
The islands of the Mamanucas group are served by a number of comfortable ferry routes from Denarau Marina, and short charter flights from Nadi airport directly, making them the easiest Fijian destination to reach. You can get out of bed in Sydney or Melbourne and be snorkelling off your resort’s beach before cocktail hour.
The resorts that offer diving all have access to the barrier reef that runs along the group’s south-west border.
Vomo is considered the northern most of the Mamanucas, though its half-way to the Yasawas, and the first stop on the Yasawa Flyer route.
For getting to Fiji, see the Getting There information on the main Fiji Islands page.
All the island resorts of the Mamanuca Islands are accessible from Denarau Marina by South Sea Cruises who run several services on several circuits throughout the day.
Alternately, you can opt for a private speedboat or water taxi transfer at a time that suits you. Pacific Island Air run air transfers that will get you to your island resort in 10-20 minutes and Island Hoppers Helicopters offer an equally speedy transfer to most of the islands. But don’t forget, the no fly rule applies to any aircraft that exceeds an altitude of 300m. So check first before you book these enjoyable scenic flights that double as airport transfers – otherwise, the same no-fly rules apply as airliners!
Castaway Diving is Castaway Island Resort’s own PADI Five Star Gold Palm Dive Centre, offering full gear hire, all the PADI courses and is complete with a stable, fast monohull boat that comfortably seats 14 dive guests and gets them to all the closest dive sites with 20 minutes.
Diving at Vomo is ‘at your convenience’. When you book your stay at Vomo, let them know that you’ll be diving and the kind of diving you want. It will be arranged. The Ocean Play Manager will meet with you after you have checked in and chilled out and discuss what kind of diving you would like to do, and when you would like to dive.
Tokoriki Island Resort is an award winning luxury resort with its own PADI 5* Dive Resort on site.
Beachcomber Island Resort and Ratu Kini Backpackers Dive Resort on Mana Island also offer diving. Both are also easily accessible by the South Seas Ferries which depart Denarau Marina.
On Island Activities
All these paradise island resorts have an extensive range of water sports on offer including kayaking, banana boat rides, windsurfing, snorkeling, hobby cats and good old fashion snorkeling.
You can also take a boat trip out to one of the nearby uninhabited islands for the day with picnic lunch supplied for a day of sunbaking, swimming and snorkeling. Conversely, you can simply enjoy your book in the hammock in front of your bure.
All the resorts have top class spas too, and it’s well worth booking a massage for your last non-diving day to soothe all those dive-weary muscles.
Off Island Activities
Here are some of the other day and half-day trips available in the Mamanucas – mainly from Denarau Marina.
Tivua Island All-Inclusive Day Cruise
Dive one of Fiji’s newest and most conveniently located wrecks: the MV Raiyawa. Join the Captain Cook Cruises Fiji Tivua Island Day Cruise and enjoys a typical island fun day out with infinite snorkeling, beach activities and sumptuous buffet lunch. Add on a couple of dives on MV Raiyawa wreck – a short trip in the boat’s tender from Tivua Island, to make your trip complete.
3-Night Mamanuca & Southern Yasawa Islands Cruise
Cruise and dive (or snorkel) your way through the Mamanucas. Enjoy the perfect mix of aquatic, land and on-board activities aboard Captain Cook Cruises Fiji’s small cruising vessel.
Seaspray Day Adventure by South Sea Cruises
Spend a day exploring the crystal clear waters, beautiful beaches and lagoons of the Mamanuca Islands aboard the 15m sailing boat ‘Seaspray’. Snorkel, swim and meet the locals at a few of the islands along the way. Seaspray departs Mana Island, and transfers to/from Mana are included.
Half-Day Surfing Adventure by Fiji Surf Co
Tackle the gentle breakers and rolling waves of Nadi’s world-famous surf spots on this expert-led surfing adventure. The Mamanucas have breaks suitable for every level and Fiji Surf Co are the experts to get you there.
There are dive types and dive sites to suit all levels of experience. There are plenty of colourful sites for novice divers with a variety of hard and soft corals and plenty of friendly Fijian reef fish. There are even gentle drift dives for those just learning to fly.
For those like to cover the ground without wasting energy on finning, there are plenty of great drift dives along the outer wall of the barrier reef – on the open ocean side – where there’s a good chance of encountering a pelagic or two. Check out Namotu Wall for example, which has an abundance of marine life including turtles, reef sharks and schools of barracuda.
Some of the sites are well known for particular features or species: Gotham City – you guessed it – batfish! Vonu Range – and Vonu as you know because you’ll be drinking it – means turtle. Supermarket – not sure where the name came from because sharks don’t shop – but that’s what it’s famous for. Big W – a roller coaster of coral bommies with swim throughs and even tunnels.
Many of the sites are just one, two or three pinnacles covered in hard and soft corals where you can spend the entire dive just spiralling round from bottom to top checking out anything from angelfish, butterflyfish and clownfish to rays, sharks and titan triggers. Both Plantation Pinnacle and Castaway’s local Three Bommies are made up of three pinnacles rising from deep water with swim throughs at the base, slopes clad in hard and soft corals, and anemone gardens at the top.
Vomo Island, situated in the north of the group has its own diving terrain. Surrounded by reef which offers all day snorkelling and easy diving right off the beach in front of the resort, there are also a number of other reef dives sites like Shark Alley round the back of the island, accessible within a short boat ride.
The steeper slopes at the far side of Vomo Lailai offer more challenging diving with walls and swim throughs. You can be assured that when you dive a site around Vomo, you will be the only ones there!