Some of the best soft corals in Fiji can be found on the reefs and bommies to the north west of Viti Levu off the coast of Rakiraki diving in Vatu-I-Ra and Bligh Water. You only have to glance at the Google maps terrain view to see just how many reefs and hence dive sites there are to be explored by newbie and experienced divers alike in this pristine pollution-free, nutrient rich, environment.
There are a number of sheltered reefs immediately adjacent the resorts, plenty of isolated soft coral covered stacks in the loop of Vatu-i-ra and more on Midway Reef between the two.
The local dive operators have named a few dozen sites and should be given awards for the most imaginatively, yet appropriately named, dive sites – check out Wheatfield, Vatu Express and Instant Replay as examples. Here’s a 98 sec snippet of one of the Vatu-i-ra dive sites, just to whet your appetite.
The Bligh Water area gets its name from Lieutenant William Bligh (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) who sailed between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu in May 1789 at the beginning of a 3,618 mile journey from Tofua to Timor after being set adrift in a 7m open boat but the mutineers. (The local Fijians weren’t as friendly then as they are now – so he gave the coast a pretty wide berth).
The fact that he could do it in an open boat is testament to the relative tranquillity of the waters, which are easily accessible from the Wananavu and Volivoli Beach Resorts. Only the Nai’a has 7 day itineraries through Bligh Water – and beyond down to as far as Kadavu.
On the northern tip of Viti Levu, Rakiraki is a 2½ hours scenic drive from Nadi airport.
There are dives on the local reefs, which boast large schools of large fish and reef sharks, as well as a great variety of your usual reef suspects in interesting and colourful terrain.
Some of the most popular sites are in the fascinating Vatu-i-ra Passage. These sites are a mixture of walls, bommies and drift dives, all of which are teaming with life and colour. The sites all have individual characters, and the imaginative names describe them well.
There is also wreck diving: the Papuan Explorer, a popular wreck dive situated in 20 meters of water, is a steel freighter deliberately sunk in 1987 to create Fiji’s largest and most accessible wreck and artificial reef teeming with marine life.
The whole area unquestionably contains some of the most colourful diving in Fiji, both in terms of the soft coral and sponges, but also the sheer numbers of reef fish teeming around the coral heads. Don’t take our word for it: check out some of the sites via the links below.