Schooling Pelagics in a Soft Coral Paradise
Schooling Pelagics in a Soft Coral Paradise…
Back aboard after a short break I was ready to welcome our 16 divers from Brazil, The U.S.A., The U.K., Australia and South Africa for our latest liveaboard safari in Fiji. Especially exciting was to see Karl Heinz and Mary once again, who are onboard the Siren Fleet for their 9th time!! As well as Heather who was only with us in Fiji in December and could not wait to get back; apparently she loves the crew of the S/Y Fiji Siren, OK – and the diving in Fiji as well!!! Everyone was raring to go and we were ready quickly for all 16 guests to make a check dive that afternoon at The Amazing Maze off Volivoli Beach Resort.
With a bit of current, swell and light wind during our overnight travels, our arrival at Gau was delayed by about an hour, but as we anchored on the North Passage of the Island, the seas laid down into a glassy calmness, with the Fiji sun heating up the day quickly. A manta ray made an unusual appearance during the first dive of the day then moving to Nigali Passage the divers were excited to hear about the sharks, eagerly anticipating two days of diving with them. Sharks (Greys, White Tips, and Zebra!!!), Barracuda, Trevally / Jacks and Little Bill, the large potato cod that is ever present, entertained us all for 4 dives with much animated discussion at meal times and as we began overnight journey to Taveuni – Fiji’s ‘Garden Island’.
Arriving in the Somosomo Strait at about 6am after a bit of a ‘rocking’ night on the boat, the sun was rising over Taveuni with barely a cloud in the sky. It was shaping up to be a perfect diving day on Rainbow Reef and a shore excursion to Bouma Falls National Heritage Park. Over the course of these two days we repeatedly heard phrases such as “that was the best dive ever”, “so many colors in the coral”, “so many fish”, “pristine” and “perfect” to describe the dive sites. Karl Heinz rated Annies Bommies one of the top 10 dive sites in the world and with a 2000+ dive log we can accept he is somewhat of an authority. It was evident from the commentary that each and every one of our divers enjoyed their time in Taveuni; but time to move on and the promise of more thrilling dives yet to come.
As we lifted anchor at 2am to head back west, I was sure the guests were dreaming of the hammerheads we hoped to see at ‘Dream House’. We arrived off the coast of Vanua Levu at just after 6:30am and were already diving by 7:30am. Both groups dropped in together to dive the deep blue and watch for the Hammerhead Sharks. Everyone saw at least one Hammerhead (except Don, from the U.K…..) and group one came back telling everyone else about their encounter with at least 15 to 20 of the magnificent sharks; a fantastic morning of diving. After our first dive we headed into Savusavu Bay for a couple of no current dives – we needed to calm ourselves a little before heading off to Namena Marine Reserve where the group would spend their last 2 full days of diving.
The weather this past 8 days has been terrific and the sunrise over Namena was showing us it was going to be another excellent day. We planned for 8 dives at Namena, split between South Save A Tack Passage (pinnacles, soft corals, scorpion leaf fish and plenty of nudis) and North Save a Tack Passage (schooling pelagics, sharks, rays, etc…) Once again the dives were enjoyed by all, with Karl Heinz rating his dive at Ned’s Nuts one of his top 3 dives ever – he was close to speechless at the abundance of colorful soft corals and amount of aquatic life at this awesome dive site.
With just two dives remaining we cruised to Bligh Water. By this time all our guests were really bonding and interacting well with each other and the normal ‘end of the trip’ conversations began as we were having breakfast; where will you go next? Shall we plan another trip together? Its always great to see how divers come together and make many new buddies whilst aboard, but this group seemed to form a special bond perhaps it was the approaching Valentine’s Day? For the last dive on E-6 we make this a “dive as long as you want to dive” giving a terrific ending to the 10 diving days on board the Fiji Siren. After a spot of sailing the crew shifted into high gear cleaning and rinsing gear, and tidying up the boat whilst the guests were relaxing over ice cold Fiji Bitter Draught Beer, reading, chatting and sorting their belongings for their anticipated trip home or to their next holiday destinations. With smiles, hugs and tears as we bid farewell to everyone, wished them safe travels and invited them back for another trip with us. Move to all and thanks for joining the Fiji Siren!
photos by guest Heather Sutton