Seven Nights in Fiji
Seven Nights in Fiji
The guests are picked up at the resort at 2pm – Fiji Time – and arrive on the Fiji Siren just minutes later where the time is only 1pm!!!!! We’ve chosen to ignore daylight savings time on the boat. After briefings we had 12 of the 14 guests go out for the Check Out dive and to hear the emergency recall device, all went well and just before dinner we did the emergency life jacket drill so everyone was set for rest of the evening. The next morning Julian and our interim Skipper, Semesa, had the crew lift the anchor and head for Vatu-I-Ra for our first full day of diving. Light winds with plenty of sun prevailed and the divers were in the water by 7:30am. It ended up being an excellent diving day as Fiji and the Fijian waters finally started to deliver some of the stronger currents that bring the soft corals to life and the bigger fish into the dive sites. The visibility and fish life was better than ever and our night dive at Mellow Yellow was by far the best night dive we have done thus far on the Fiji Siren. So much to see – Flat Worms, Sharks, Scorpion Leaf Fish, Turtles, Schools of Fusiliers and Unicornfish.. the list is endless
After driving through the night, the Fiji Siren dropped anchor on the north passage of Gau Island at about 5:30am. We had the guests up early, combining the groups for this dive at Jim’s Alley before a hearty breakfast to prepare for the rest of the day at Nigali Passage.We planned the dive for 2 hours after the high tide as usual, and with the current we had seen at Vatu-I-Ra yesterday we were expecting the ripping current in the channel to assist in a high population of Sharks, Barracuda, and Jacks. Although the tidal swing was 1.2m, the dive in the passage was calm, but there were still plenty of Grey Reef Sharks circling around, at one point we saw a small school of 13 Grey Reefies – adults and Juveniles. There were also schools of barracuda, and several White Tips Reef Sharks taking a snooze on the white sandy bottom of the channel, reminding me of guests napping between dives! As we ate lunch, it was apparent the current had changed, and as we looked over at the channel we could see the white water / waves caused by the incoming current. Much was anticipated for our afternoon dive and we were not disappointed; a parade of Grey Reef Sharks (at least 40), HUGE Grouper, Schools of Red and Big Eye Snapper, Five Lined Snapper, and schools of Barracuda. We sat in the ‘bleachers’ for 35 minutes watching the show before riding the current up and over the reef and channel to be shot out into the deeper lagoon. It was a phenomenal dive, followed by a chillaxing afternoon with the guests lounging on the sun deck with a Fiji Bitter or SP Lager – and some sipping sparkling wine back on the dining deck while filling in their log books.
The following day we planned for 3 dives off the small Island of Wakaya, as it’s mating season for the Mantas we weren’t sure if we were going to see any, but by luck our two guests from China, Angel and Trista, saw one Manta. We had a singular Hammerhead sighting also. The weather was unbelievable with next to no wind, and clear blue skies with a hot, hot sun, contributing to another great day in Fiji. We lifted anchor just before the end of the 3rd dive and met the divers just off the barrier reef around the island as we set our sights on Makogai Island to treat everyone to a local village tour with Giant Sea Clam and Turtle Farms. The guests were met by everyone in the village and took a tour around the island, the Sevusevu followed by a Meke performed by the school children was loved by everyone. We lifted anchor at 5am to head for Namena Marine Reserve, our first dive at “Grand Central Station” where we were welcomed by Gray Reef Sharks, Huge Schools of Trevally, Jacks, Barracuda and Red Tooth Trigger Fish. The day finished out with dives 2 and 3 on South Save a Tack Reef with abundant Fish Life and the Colorful Soft Corals Fiji is Famous for. Ju and Richie went out for a night dive and headed to some ‘new’ site, apparently in search of the Hippocampus Bargibanti – Pygmy Seahorse. Although they didn’t have any luck, again the soft corals of Fiji astounded the guests even on a night dive!
I awoke to dark grey cloudy skies with evidence of rain the night before. The wind remained quite light which is a good thing as we are headed to North Save A Tack for our first dive of the day. By the time the first divers returned to the boat, the skies had cleared to partly cloudy with plenty of the Fiji Blue up above. Excitement was evident with all the chattering on the dinghy’s as the groups returned from the dive. Along with all the usual suspects, dinghy 1 was talking about spotting a Manta Ray meanwhile dinghy 2 returned with stories of a Bull Shark Sighting! A great morning. For dive two we decided to repeat and although current was a bit lighter, there was still plenty to see and the divers loved it. William and Brad – who along with Ju- made a 90 minute night dive to finish off the diving day! The bar was opened and cocktails mixed before and after dinner which kept some of the guests up quite late, despite the opening of the Fijian skies and the “Tropical Shower”. As normal, when the end of the trip grows near the guests start talking about not wanting to leave the boat and stowing away onboard the Fiji Siren for the next sailing. None the less we began our return journey to dive the famous dive site E-6. We decide to do both dives here because past guests, and especially the photographers love ‘The Cathedral’ for photo ops. The final 2 dives of the trip completed the guests relaxed with books and wine as our crew got busy rinsing dive gear and bringing up the stowed luggage. The evening festivities begin with our trip end Bar-B-Que and this trip it was our skipper, Julian’s, turn at the grill. Steaks, pork chops, chicken, fresh Walu fillets and lobster with various side dishes all accompanied by singing, guitar playing and drinking Kava. The guests retire tired, happy and contented after 7 –days aboard the Fiji Siren.
We bid everyone a fond farewell and safe travels the morning of November 11th with some tears shed as our crew sings Isa Lei (the Fijian Goodbye song) up on the sundeck after the group photos. We look forward to seeing you all again soon; Moce mada!
Photo By Frank Keinast