Mantastic liveaboard dive trip in Fiji
‘Bula vinaka and a very big welcome on-board Fiji Siren, this will be your home for the next 7-nights and we are your Fijian family’ – that’s the way I like to begin every cruise! For this charter we had a very leisurely start, slow casual fun briefings, lots of time spent setting-up new dive equipment and cameras, getting strobes sorted, generally chatting to each other and making new friends. For this cruise we were also fortunate enough to have Mig Wehrle, GM Aqualung Southeast Asia with us, who was officially on his honeymoon with his beautiful wife Meike, however brought along lots of new Aqualung toys and equipment for everyone to try out and for many of us to put on our ‘wish list’.
Our Fiji Siren liveaboard dive trip started amongst the magnificent soft coral this region is so famous for at Vatu-I-Ra in the Bligh Water. Our shake-down dive was at Instant Replay where we were greeted by an almost completely white manta ray and of course those abundant soft coral walls. Next up after our 2nd-breakfast it was a ‘color explosion’ at Mellow Yellow, a stand-alone pinnacle encompassed in masses and masses of healthy soft coral and the millions of tropical fishes that have made it their home. During this dive photo guru Mick made the most of the picturesque background and captured Bonnie in her underwater wedding gown. Lunch, a little nap, some sunbaking on the sundeck, more camera fiddling and time to hit Black Magic Mountain and its crazy little leaf scorpion fish. Next stop on our schedule was Wakaya Island some 5-hours away.
We explored Wakaya Wall to check out the amazing intricate make-up of the popcorn shrimp and leaf scorpion fish. Next was Vatu Vai followed by Lion’s Den where it was like ‘manta peak hour’ plus more leaf scorpion fish, juvenile blue ribbon eels, cleaner shrimp, white tip reef sharks, flat worms, Napoleon wrasse and of course hard coral as far as the eye could see along with stunning gorgonian sea fans. For our night dive this evening we revisited Vatu Vai for some incredible bio florescence, actively hunting octopus and lionfish and the well camouflaged scorpion fish lying in wait for its unsuspecting pray. Once everyone was safely back on-board with their hot chocolate and warm towels straight from the dryer we were on the move once again, this time 5-hours further south to Gua Island.
Waking just a 60-second tender trip from our first two dive sites, Jim’s Alley and Anthia’s Avenue gave our guests ample opportunities to feast their eyes on a myriad of macro critters at both sites and we even had a ‘fly by’ by a lone manta ray during the safety stop at Jim’s Alley, we couldn’t have scripted it better if we tried – nice! After lunch it was ‘shark time’ and as such the fever on-board with our guests was rising, anticipation was high as we readied ourselves for our meeting with the creatures that time forgot. As always these two dives in Nigali Passage didn’t fail to impress! During another wonderful 3-course dinner we set course for Namena Marine Reserve which would be our adventure playground for the next 2-days.
Straight into the action with an early morning dive at School House to spend some time with our cute resident banner fish as well as tuna, barracuda, grey reef sharks and of course ample hard and soft coral. Later that morning it was a peaceful drift dive starting at The Arch with its large schools of jacks and barracuda and ending up at Kansas with the leather coral, blennies and pipefish, along the way checking in to say bula to some turtles, Napoleon wrasse, sharks, wahoo and a couple of pigmy seahorse. With the change of the tide we moved 40-minutes under bright blue sunny skies and flat calm seas to the south side for a double dive at Black Forest, first during the day and then again at night – two very healthy and extremely lively pinnacles which is also home to a couple of magnificent blue ribbon eels. No moving tonight so dinner was hosted on the ‘moon deck’ where we held our Fijian Night and everyone got to experience some local Fijian culture with food such as rourou, kokoda, taro, cassava, ika vakalolo and coconut pie which of course was all washed down with some customary kava.
Throughout the traditional Fijian experience, including how to play the lali (traditional communication drum made from tree trunk) live entertainment was provided by our very own Fiji Siren Rubber Band as we sang, laughed and danced into the wee small hours of tomorrow.
Another massive day in Fiji’s largest marine reserve with not another boat in sight so to get things started we dropped in at Fiji Gold with pigmy seahorse, ornate ghost pipefish and sea spiders right up to schooling barracuda, dog tooth tuna and sharks – something for everyone. Next on the menu was Grand Central Station and just like the previous dive there was fish-a-plenty from massive schools of jacks and barracuda to Napoleon wrasse, mammoth dog tooth tuna and sharks right down to the little guys like orangutan crabs, loveable blennies, spider crabs and pipefish. To wrap up our day it was time to visit arguably one of the most colorful sites imaginable, Chimneys – there wouldn’t be too many sites to be found anywhere on this planet with more soft coral and possibly not a color you could name that couldn’t be found here. As you can imagine this site is home to an immense array of marine life and to see it at its best we dived this firstly during the day and again at night. Clearly world-class!
Our final day of diving had arrived as we ventured back into the Bligh Water to spend 2-excellent dives on the mammoth E6 and as we’ve said before you could do 200 or 2,000 dives on this site and still not see it all.
Thank you everyone for this great liveaboard dive cruise in Fiji! It wouldn’t have been the same without you! We hope to see you soon on board!!!