Sharks, mantas, beautiful macro and soft corals! This is Fiji!
What a great honor to welcome back 4 guests from Belgium who were with us on Fiji Siren in February of last year, it’s always exciting when we have friends return for another visit. As is typical we seem to have another United Nations delegation on-board with no less than 10 different nationalities present for our 119th charter. Our shake-down dive was at Corridors of Fun where we saw some beautiful soft coral, healthy sea fans, scorpion fish, blue dragons and plenty of very large electric blue jellyfish. From here it was a smooth overnight voyage down to our southernmost stop at the island of Gau some 11-hours away.
There aren’t too many better ways to wake everyone up than by dropping them into Nigali Passage filled with over 3-dozen sharks as well as Bill our friendly Malabar grouper and some massive green moray eels. Next up was the colorful soft corals at Anthia’s Avenue and Jim’s Alley followed by our first land based tour of the cruise for some traditional Fijian culture to the Somosomo Village. For our first night dive of the cruise we chose Main Street where several very large pleurobranch were the great hit of the night. After a big overnight crossing last night we did the exact opposite and stayed calmly on anchor in the tranquil lagoon where our guests were treated to some live entertainment on the ‘moon deck’ by our very own Fiji Siren Rubber Band as Chefs Andrew and Meleti spoilt us with some delicious local cuisine with Fijian Night being this evenings themed dinner. Day two in Gau and our teams swapped sights from yesterday afternoon to start-off the day with some golden mantis shrimp and manta ray action. It was back to Nigali Passage for 2-more very close-up exciting shark encounter dives plus a few smaller friends like rock mover wrasse and octopus as well as immense schools of chevron barracuda and jacks. Once everyone was back on-board, thankfully with all fingers and toes intact, we set-off for Wakaya Marine Reserve in readiness for what we hope will be more excellent diving in the morning.
Waking up to a beautifully picturesque sunrise was just the start of four sensational dives around the Wakaya Marine Reserve where amongst an endless list of creatures, big and small, some of the stand outs were manta rays, nurse sharks, turtles, leaf scorpion fish and of course hammerhead sharks. We also took the opportunity to enjoy a full moon party on the ‘moon deck’, with live entertainment from the Fiji Siren Rubber Band of course, before setting passage for a 5-hour hop over to Fiji’s largest marine park, the Namena Marine Reserve which is home to some of the most iconic and picturesque dives Fiji has to offer.
Another remarkable day with incredible dives at School House, Ned’s Nuts, Black Forest, Chimneys and a gentle evening drift from Arch to Kansas. All dives were simply amazing, as is regularly the case in this location, however some of the truly stand-outs were hammerhead sharks, ghost pipefish, massive schools of jacks, barracuda and surgeonfish and naturally the healthy and vibrant coral. Once our diving day was completed it was another overnight crossing, this time to Rainbow Reef in Somosomo Strait, Taveuni for 2-big days of diving at 8-different sites as well as getting in another land based tour to have some laughter in Taveuni town and at the International Dateline. Amongst our chosen dive sites we had a thrilling high-speed drift at Barracuda Point and of course no trip to Rainbow Reef is ever complete without dropping in on the legendary Great White Wall. Like our other stops the list of things our guests got to see was endless however some of the truly remarkable ones were leaf scorpion fish, schooling banner fish, decorated dart fish, masses of bright orange anemones, a whole array of different nudibranch, spotted moray, flat worms and banded sea snakes (kraits). Once our time was up at our northernmost destination we headed back southwest to Namena Marine Reserve for 1-more day in this mind-blowing marine rich part of Fiji.
The early risers amongst the group woke to see Fiji Siren anchored snugly up close to Namena Island and some of the 300-pairs of protected red footed booby birds that call it their home heading out to sea for another day’s fishing. Four more great dives today and lots of marine life including 3-types of sharks and massive dog tooth tuna to ghost pipefish and leopard blennies, and everything in-between, and of course not forgetting some mind-blowing colors that put a big a smile on everyone’s faces.
Next on our itinerary were 2-final days back in the Bligh Water at Vatu-I-Ra, the ‘Soft Coral Capital of the World’, to get our fill of healthy coral in any color you can name. Six great dives including the truly world class Mellow Yellow and E6 with of course an abundance of fish and marine critters including more manta rays and hammerhead sharks in natures 360° natural underwater aquarium.
Sadly our final morning has arrived with what I can only describe as an amazing group of new friends which we hope to see back again sometime soon. As our crew sang the famous Fijian farewell song isa lai, a few tears appeared in our guests eyes which we can only assume meant they all had a great experience and will be departing with wonderful life-long memories of their time with us on Fiji Siren. Vinaka vakelevu (thank you very much).