By Dave Moran
What stood out most were huge remora; I did not realise they grew so big – touching a metre long! “The sharks must be huge!” I randomly thought.
The dive guides had placed me next to the ‘dinner plate’, a wire cage full of fish heads and carcasses. For the surrounding marine life, the dinner gong had definitely rung out! The body mass of fish life swooping in to feed must have been in the tons of kilograms. Your eyes just could not focus on any one fish and the camera’s autofocus was in melt down!
Then through this mayhem a well-padded bull shark casually cruised by and gently gulped down a tuna’s head being held out by one of the Fijian divers.
Come on Princess where are you?
She had made an impressive entrance a few days earlier, much to the absolute delight of the videoing divers. The images of this four-plus metre tiger shark were impressive as it passed centimetres from the GoPro’s wide angle lens.
A lemon shark moved close to the ring of divers allowing one of them to gently stroke its head as if it was settling in for a post-dinner nap! Like jet fighters a couple of white- and black-tip reef sharks zoomed into the feeding playground scattering the fish life. A large Napoleon wrasse sauntered in as if to check out what the raucous was all about. They are a magnificent fish!
After 20 minutes, the frenzy was down to a few stragglers picking at the scraps lying on the sandy bottom. It was time to depart and explore the surrounding reef.
The second shark dive was just as impressive, but Princess had decided we needed to come back another day to be in awe of her presence. On a good day you can see eight species of shark during the shark feeding dive that the Resort started about six months ago.
I was diving just a few kilometres from Beqa Lagoon Resort, which nestles in amongst the coconut palm trees lining the sandy shoreline of Beqa Island, Fiji. Beqa Lagoon is recognised as the soft coral capital of Fiji. Its diverse marine life is photographed by hundreds of divers every year. To dive this massive lagoon you can either travel by boat out from Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Most visitors depart from Pacific Harbour (known as the Adventure Capital of Fiji), which is a two-hour car trip from Nadi International airport along the Coral Coast Road. We overnighted at The Pearl South Pacific Resort situated on the shoreline of Pacific Harbour before making the ten kilometre transfer to Beqa Island in the morning.
These days when people think of a resort in Fiji I’m sure there is plenty of confusion! The type of accommodation varies from a standard five-star resort of bricks and mortar with amazing in-water bars/swimming pools to thatched-roofed non-air conditioned bures. These are sprinkled amongst coconut palms without the slightest rumble of distant traffic and brain-numbing squawking of a TV programme!
Beqa Lagoon Resort embraces what I enjoy about Fiji. First its people: Fijians have a natural ability to express their joy for life, and it’s infectious. Their smiles bring warmth to every day! Excellent accommodation, fantastic food and communal dining so that you meet interesting people, but isolated enough so that you feel you are removed completely from the so-called ‘real world’!
Plus you can dive to your heart’s content. The PADI dive operation is well run by Big Joe and has that typical laid-back Fijian atmosphere, but you know they know what they are doing. They soon recognise those that need one-on-one attention and those that need just a little organising.
While I was on the island, the weather was a little unkind so that we were unable to experience any of the wall drift dives but we still had some amazing dives. I love the challenge of photographing soft corals, in both wide-angle and macro. For the first time, I used twin Ikelite video lights that popped the soft coral’s vibrant sunshine colours into life before the strobes fired. This extra constant light just blew my socks off!
I did receive an electric shock – it’s true! The dive guide called me over to a small black hole in the reef‘s wall. I’m thinking, “Cute black hole, am I in outer space?” Then he indicated for me to get closer and there it was, flashing like a Las Vegas strip joint – an electric clam! The guides are fantastic at pointing out little critters that you would miss if not shown their secluded hiding places.
The wreck dive is also a must-dive. The small island cargo ship has slipped off the reef and is sitting upright in 25 metres. No penetration allowed, but very tempting!
You need a minimum of five days at Beqa Lagoon Resort. The diving sites are very diverse and you need time to explore the island. Enjoy the villagers and their families who entertain you most nights and pamper yourself with a full body message – relax in a beachside hammock or go for a quiet kayak adventure; you deserve to experience true Fijian hospitality! Maybe plan your wedding there!
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