Amazing week full of underwater action: sharks, mantas, dog tooth tunas and enormous schools of barracudas!
Amazing week full of underwater action: sharks, mantas, dog tooth tunas and enormous schools of barracuda!
The Fiji Siren and her crew was happy to welcome on board a group of very advanced liveaboard divers from Europe and the United States. Once everyone had settled in it was off to spend the night behind Nananu I Ra Island and enjoy a few relaxing drinks and share some stories and plenty of laughs before dinner and an early night.
On our first dive day as the Pacific morning sun rose over Vatu I Ra in the Bligh Water as we arrived at our dive destination escorted by a pod of friendly Fiji dolphins. We happily spent the day diving the very colorful and healthy soft corals of Maytag, Coral Corner, Mellow Yellow and Alcatricity Wall. Some of the days diving highlights were of course the world-class soft coral which is what the area is famous for and the countless macro photo opportunities. After our final dive of the day we set course in the peacefully calm waters for Makogai Island some 5-hours away.
Morning conditions were gloriously tranquil with shimmering mirror-calm seas as our guests awoke anchored just off Makogai Island whilst our crew quietly readied everything in preparation for a new day. Today we explored Half Pipe, Dominoes and Ratu Ridge where we were enthralled by the rare electric file clam, sea spiders, decorator crabs and frog fish all nestled amongst the beautiful soft coral. After another peaceful night’s sleep and just before sunrise we headed the short distance south to Wakaya Island and dropped into the flat calm water at Blue Ridge, Vatu Vai, Lion’s Den and finally Wakaya Wall to play with the eagle rays, barracuda, turtles, napoleon wrasse, moray and garden eels, grey reef, white tip, black tip and a hammerhead shark before continuing our island hopping voyage further south to rest peacefully for the night inside the barrier reef that encircles and protects the island of Gau.
Like always Gau is a ‘hot-spot’ for shark action and a couple of breathtaking morning dives at Nigali Passage was no exception as there were well over 2-dozen grey reef sharks and even more exciting we clearly had over half of those being big fat healthy pregnant females to keep our guests more than entertained and on their toes. Needless to say everyone came up with massive smiles and rousing stories of these exhilarating dives. After an early lunch we stopped off for a relaxed manta ray snorkel where our guests spent 90-minutes swimming with around 20 of these magnificent creatures before our final dive of the day at Jim’s Alley where we again were visited by these beautiful and graceful manta rays. Once everyone was back on-board we then headed off overnight for the next leg of our adventure for two full days diving the Rainbow Reef in Taveuni and the Somosomo Straight.
Day one in Taveuni and we kicked this off in the morning with peaceful dives at Jerry’s Jelly to Blue Ribbon followed by the iconic Great White Wall before exploring the very healthy Nuku’s Reef in the afternoon and an amazing night dive full of critters at Red Rock Point where no one came up disappointed. Great day had by all however it wasn’t over yet as it was time to party and celebrate Julie’s birthday with some help from the always entertaining Fiji Siren House Band and a very tasty freshly baked chocolate birthday-cake from our talented chefs Andrew and Joe.
For our second and concluding day in Taveuni it was off to Jerry’s Jelly and Sam’s Point first-up followed by the leaf fish, manta and eagle rays at Fish Factory and then finally we rounded off our time here on a relatively new site for us called Rainbow Passage which pleasingly got everyone’s very supportive and unanimous vote of approval. With some bad weather forecast it was time to set course overnight to another of Fiji’s genuine diving meccas, the Namena Marine Reserve
On the next morning, still at Namena Island, our enthusiastic divers were ready to dive Black Forest followed by the always impressive and wonderfully colourful Chimneys. After lunch we moved over to the north side for a date with the big guys like massive dog tooth tuna, silver, black and white tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, enormous schools of barracuda and big eye trevally and large maori wrasse at Grand Central Station. We eventually wrapped-up another exciting day with a night dive in the sheltered water of Namena Beach where we spent time with several species of crabs and shrimp as well as the delicate banded pipe fish.
For our final day in the Namena Marine Reserve we got underway early with dives at South Save-A-Tack Wall and Ned’s Nuts then moved back over to the north side to get wet at School House and Grand Central Station in some choppy seas but with world class diving nevertheless. Once everyone was safely back on-board and everything was secure we set course for Solevu Bay at the southern tip of Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island, to shelter for the night. Early the following morning we ventured back to Vatu I Ra to dive E6, which is possibly the most famous site in Fiji, and as usual it did not disappoint as everyone made the most of this genuine outstanding site and came up after 90-minutes with massive grins all round. Next and final stop on our dive itinerary was the very impressive and extremely colourful Mount Mutiny which would sadly be the grand finale of our diving safari with a fantastic group of newly formed and very interesting and entertaining friends so we appreciated then hammerhead sharks coming out to help say farewell in true Fijian style.
Like all things amazing unfortunately the adventure has to come to an end as the crew sang Isa Lei to our departing friends…………vinaka vaka levu until next time.
Photos by Jan Reyniers