Underwater Photography Liveaboard Diving Workshops with Chris Huss!
Underwater Photography Liveaboard Diving Workshops with Chris Huss!
The Fiji Siren set-off on another adventure with a very eclectic mix of nationalities including Italian, Swiss, German, United States, Great Brittan, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and of course our amazing Fijian crew. Along with us we were fortunate enough to have one of the world’s leading underwater photographers, Mr Chris Huss on-board, running free daily photo workshops for our guests and sharing ample tips and tricks to our lucky guests.
First stop was Amazing Maze in the Bligh Waters to give everyone the opportunity to test out all of their new equipment and get acclimatized to being pampered by our ever conscientious and safety orientated dive crew. Early the next day, we set course for Vatu I Ra and some of the most mind-blowingly colorful and healthy coral you are likely to see anywhere on the planet. This morning we explored Mellow Yellow and Black Magic Mountain which never fail to impress even the most well-travelled and finicky of divers. On top of the amazing coral and 30m (100’) visibility we also got to enjoy some wonderful leaf scorpionfish and the always intriguing and highly intelligent octopus. After lunch, and a well-earned nap of course, it was time for a thrilling little drift dive at Instant Replay where we spent time with several inquisitive grey reef sharks plus a few of their smaller cousins the black and white tip reef sharks as well as a few very large yellowfin tuna and spanish mackerel. Once everyone was safely back on-board we were ready to head south overnight to the island of Gau.
Everyone was up early this morning, either excited to dive Nigali Passage. After a thorough dive and safety briefing everyone was busily readying themselves and their equipment for this morning encounter with these much maligned apex predators. Right on schedule the tide turned and it was ‘go-time’. Pleasingly we seemed to pick the tide perfectly and the next 60-minutes were spent surrounded by grey reef sharks, schooling barracuda and jacks before it was time for our safety stop on the masses of Cabbage Coral. Back on deck the ‘always singing – always dancing’ Fiji Siren crew got straight down to business and were pumping cylinders full of nitrox and washing wetsuits whilst our guests enjoyed another big cooked breakfast. By now the current had started to pick-up so it was back in for what we anticipated to be even more action with ample fish hunting for their lunch and we certainly were not disappointed. With visibility now around 40m (130’) and at least 3-dozen nice health sharks hunting amongst the masses of Barracuda and Jacks. Once again everyone came out with massive smiles and it was safe to say this dive was a winner in everyone’s eyes. To round out the days diving we moved Fiji Siren an hour north in the lagoon to split into 2-groups and visit Jim’s Alley and Anthea’s Avenue where we were lucky enough to get a visit from some graceful manta rays, not a bad way to end our diving day!
With our precious cargo of guests sleeping peacefully it was another pre-dawn start for the crew as we set-off towards Wakaya Island some 4-hours away to investigate Vatu Vai and Lion’s Den where we hit gold with manta rays, hammerhead sharks, napoleon wrasse, dolphins, turtles and leaf scorpionfish throughout the morning. Not much more to add really! During lunch it was another short 2-hour island hop over to Makogai Island where we enjoyed our in-water time at Dominoes and Pin Ball with plenty of macro opportunities before we rounded-off the days with a fun and educational land based village tour on the island to experience a bit of traditional Fijian culture.
Just like the day before, the crew was up early for a timely 4-hour voyage further north to Namena Marine Reserve so we could catch the perfect tides and conditions to showcase Black Forest and Chimneys on the South Save-A-Tack side in the morning before venturing over to North Save-a-Tack for Grand Central Station, the Arch and Kansas in the afternoon. To say today was a big day would be a massive understatement as almost everything came out to play in substantial numbers, with schools trevally/jacks and barracuda over 100 thick, countless grey reef sharks, huge napoleon wrasse and dog tooth tuna right down to the little guys like banded sea snakes, octopus, mantis shrimp, pigmy pipehorse and the list goes on and on. After dinner, we made our overnight crossing to Taveuni and the Somosomo Strait.
Our first daylight glimpse of the Garden Island, Taveuni, showed a nice clear day ahead with calm seas and blue sky. This morning dives in the Somosomo Straight and the Rainbow Reef consisted of Fish Factory, Nuku’s Reef, Jerry’s Jelly, Blue Ribbon and Sam’s Point. During lunch we moved Fiji Siren to hit one of the two most famous sites in Fiji, the Great White Wall, right on the perfect tide and had a great experience on this gentle snow-white drift. Later this evening some of our group chose to sit out the night dive at Red Rock Point and relaxed on-board with massages, cocktails and wine whilst they watched a blood red sunset.
Day two and our final day in Taveuni was kicked-off with a nice little drift dive at Barracuda Point where we played with some larger pelagic fish and spent plenty of time watching the busy rock-mover wrasse diligently going about their work. Later that morning we dropped in at the Ledge, a small but very healthy and colorful reef system, home to countless marine creatures from giant grouper and reef sharks to tiny Anthias and the well camouflaged scorpionfish. Several guests decided to sit this dive out and take one of our guided land based tours to visit the International Dateline for a bit of fun with a difference. Once everyone was back on-board we explored Purple Wall and then by popular demand revisited the Great White Wall one last time for that very special white coral which the site is so famous for.
Back at Namena Marine Reserve and what a way to start the morning than with a beautiful dive at School House with hammerhead and grey reef sharks, free-swimming Lionfish hunting for their breakfast, moray eels and large schools of banner fish, barracuda and jacks/trevally. In order to pick-up the optimum tides we now moved Fiji Siren over to the south-side to spend some time exploring some of the coral encrusted caves, tunnels and cathedrals on South Save-A-Tack Wall. After lunch it was time to visit Ned’s Nuts to close out the afternoon which was ‘activity central’ with marine life and colour everywhere you looked, you know it’s a good site when after 80-minutes you still have most of the divers in the water with strobes going off in every direction. Once we were all back on-board we headed the short distance to anchor alongside Namena Island for the night and close to our night dive. As our night divers prepared for their nocturnal underwater activities at Nemo’s Playground, which as the name indicates is home to masses and masses of Anemone and Anemone fish.
For our final day in Namena it was off to North Save-A-Tack and by unanimous decision back to School House first-up and who should turn-up to say good morning but Mr Terry the Tiger Shark. Nice! We then came back over to South Save-a-Tack for some surface protection and re-visit the always colorful and teaming with life Black Forest and Chimneys throughout the afternoon where we had the diversity from manta rays down to the little pygmy seahorses. For our final night dive of the cruise we chose Pep’s Playground.
Last dive day and we couldn’t go past two very special dive sites in Vatu I Ra – E6 and Mount Mutiny to close-out this Fijian adventure with hammerhead sharks and frog fish in the company of such a wonderful and fun loving group of people we now call friends.
Like all things amazing unfortunately our cruise has to come to an end as the crew sang Isa lei to our departing friends…….vinaka vaka levu and moce mada.