Experiencing Fijian diving at its finest!
Another beautiful day in our pacific paradise as we prepare for more adventures on the high seas surrounding the 333-islands which make-up Fiji. Shortly after boarding, the Fiji Siren was away towards our first dive site and a chance for many to experience their first taste of Fijian diving at its finest. A favorite shake-down location of recent has been Amazing Maze, a nice gentle shallow dive with a good array of critters from nudibranch and scorpion fish to octopus and schooling barracuda as well as ample gorgonian sea fans, anemone and a mixture of soft and hard coral plus of course a maze of tunnels and passages giving the site its name.
For our first morning we woke at Vatu-I-Ra and started the day with a lovely drift dive at Coral Corner and immediately upon dropping in found ourselves encircled by a school of several hundred thick chevron barracuda. Later in the day we explored the masses of amazing soft colorful coral at Mellow Yellow and Black Magic Mountain as well as vast schools of fusiliers and anthias as far as the eye could see. Once our diving day was done we heading off overnight on our 10-hour journey to Gau Island.
Today we started in mirror flat waters at Jim’s Alley with some manta rays and a mass or coral and even a few dragonets at Anthia’s Avenue before heading 45-minutes further south during lunch to visit the big sharks including nurse sharks, grey, black tip and white tip reef sharks and several newly born grey reef shark pups in the ‘nursery’ in Nigali Passage for 2-thrilling dives and some very close-up action by these apex predators dating back to some 400-miliion years of evolution. Congratulations to Gary and Dean who have now completed their nitrox courses – well done gentlemen.
Picturesque Wakaya Island lay a few dozen meters behind us as the sun rose to start another day and our guests made their way topside for ‘first breakfast’ and freshly ground coffee. Today’s schedule included Lion’s Den, Vatu Vai and Blue Ridge where we spent time with moray eels, manta rays, turtles, lionfish, ornate ghost pipefish, scorpion leaf fish, some reef sharks and of course plenty of hard and soft coral. For this evenings night dive we chose Vatu Vai again for some fun with the bio fluorescence and plenty of nocturnal critters including shrimps, crabs and octopus plus the stealthy hunting lionfish out in search of supper. From here it was off a further 5-hours north to Namena Marine Reserve where we would be spending the next 2-days exploring some of its marine rich and healthy sites.
Day # 1 in Fiji’s largest marine reserve saw us hit the walls of Grand Central Station and School House first-up for some time with our beautiful schools of resident banner fish, Napoleon wrasse, several species of sharks, schooling chevron barracuda and as the visibility was unfortunately not ideal we also spent plenty of time looking for lots of little critters including golden mantis shrimp, pipefish and scorpion leaf fish plus a few turtles. During lunch of delicious home-made pizza we moved 30-minutes to the southern part of the reserve to take advantage of the changing tide where we dropped in at the beautifully soft coral encrusted Black Forest and Chimneys and then back to Chimneys one more time for our night dive before enjoying ‘Fiji Night’ where our guests were treated to some traditional Fiji cooking and local food, the South Pacific’s famous drink, kava, a little history lesson and of course entertained by our very own Fiji Siren Rubber Band well into the night. Big day, great day – let’s do it all again tomorrow.
First-up for the morning we were back in the north on the walls and pinnacles at Fiji Gold with some sharks and barracuda cruising in the deep hunting for breakfast. Our next adventure was a lovely laidback drift dive from Arch along the Yellow Brick Road to Oz and the Window of Dreams and eventually ending up amongst the leather coral/wheat fields at Kansas, along the way saying bula to Napoleon wrasse, turtles, golden mantis shrimp, plenty of schooling barracuda, jacks, big eye trevally, massive dogtooth tuna, African pompano, peacock shrimp, sharks, a few moray eels, countless garden eels and some delicate little pipefish. Back to the south during lunch and our teams swapped sites from yesterday with ‘team Semi’ dropping-in at Chimneys and ‘team Tomu’ exploring Black Forest. For our final night dive of the cruise and with sea conditions being nice and calm we stayed out and dived Black Forest and enjoyed the nocturnal inhabitants never seem during our daylight dives.
Leaving Namena Marine Reserve at midnight en-route to Bligh Water and Vatu-I-Ra for our last morning of diving had us mooring up at E6 just a little after sunrise. Stepping straight off the side of Fiji Siren and the intriguing Cathedral awaits her new explorers before they venture out onto this 1,000-meter (3,000’) pinnacle alive with thousands upon thousands of marine inhabitants busily going about their days activities in a fish eat fish world. Two dives here barely scratches the surface on a site which you could literally spend a lifetime exploring.
Finally our last evening has arrived and many friendships made as the Fiji Siren Rubber Band entertains our guests one last time during this great liveaboard dive trip in Fiji!
Moca mada (farewell) to our new friends as the crew sung the beautiful isa lei (until next time) which as normal got a few tears and lots of hugs from our departing friends.