Endless barrier reefs, lagoons, shark diving, corals, sponges, 1000 fish species…
Circled by two of the world’s largest barrier reefs, Fiji presents the ultimate diving adventure. The country’s 333 islands support over a 1000 species of fish and several hundred types of corals and sponges. Diving opportunities are endless, with worldclass dive sites and an abundance of PADI and SSI affiliated dive operators scattered throughout the main dive regions.
MAMABUCA and YASAWA islands
The Mamanuca Islands are the closest to Fiji’s international hub, Nadi, and accessible by a short ferry ride, or even shorter helicopter transfer. The spot is perfect for newly certified divers to discover Fiji’s marine environment, whether staying at an adultsonly resort or on holiday with the family. Kids as young as 10 are able to give diving a go in Fiji.
The Yasawa Islands stretch north from the Mamanuca Islands in a long chain of rugged islands. In the south of the group you’ll find a range of backpacker resorts, many with their own dive centres. The northern islands harbour several luxury resorts where diving, as well as gourmet food and five-star day spas, are included with your stay.
Two shark dives are on offer in the Yasawa Islands: Barefoot Kuata Island Resort offers an “Awakening Shark Dive” frequented by up to 11 species of shark in just 20m of water, while Dive Yasawa Lagoon operates a shark dive experience at Cathedral Reef.
Kadavu Island is best known for the Great Astrolabe Reef, the fourth largest reef in the world.
All resorts on Kadavu Island offer snorkelling and scuba diving.
Those staying in the north of Kadavu have access to the 63m wreck of the Pacific Voyager and the Namalata Reef system in addition to the Great Astrolabe Reef itself, and you can snorkel with manta-rays off Buliya Island.
In the south, the Great Astrolabe Reef on their doorstep, with diving alongside the big fish that breed on the reef: tuna, marlin, giant trevally and a variety of sharks.
Kadavu’s remoteness has resulted in resorts that are sustainably run with eco-friendly yet comfortable facilities; much of what’s served on your plate is likely to come from a local garden. The island is less than an hour’s flight from Nadi or Suva with boat transfers to take visitors from the airport to their resorts.
PACIFIC HARBOUR and BEQA LAGOON
The Beqa Lagoon is renowned for its shark encounter dives, and guests at the many resorts in Pacific Harbour and on Beqa Island can experience this adrenalin pumping activity.
The shark diving sites inside Beqa Lagoon on the south coast of Viti Levu are long established and well organised. Typically, a low coral wall separates observers from the feeding area. Dive guests are led down mooring lines behind the wall before feeding commences.
On some dives the sharks are hand fed; on others fish pieces are laid out around the feeding site for the sharks to discover. Guests are treated to an eye-to-eye view of the sharks as they cruise around seeking their lunch.
The experience is not for the faint hearted; divers can expect to encounter large bull and tiger sharks as well as silvertips, reef sharks and lemon and tawny nurse sharks. For conservation reasons shark dives don’t happen every day, but there are dozens of other adventurous underwater sites to explore on the 144-kilometre coral reef surrounding Beqa Lagoon.
Two-and-a-half-hours north of Nadi by road is Rakiraki, a pocket of paradise promising pristine reefs and over 50 dive sites in the Bligh Waters and Vatu-i-Ra Passage.
The Bligh Waters are famous for their spectacular walls, brightly coloured soft corals and schooling fish. Many of the dive sites are named metaphorically: Wheatfield, topped with long, wavy soft yellow corals; Purple Haze, a wall draped in purple soft corals; and Vatu Express, a drift dive. Enjoy the reefs and cleaning stations as you glide by.
At Rakiraki Ra Divers operate out of Volivoli Beach Resort catering to divers of all abilities. For beginners, an option is to explore the shallow waters surrounding the resort, while more experienced divers can head to one of the many sites in the Vatu-i-Ra passage. Most of the top locations are no more than 20 minutes by boat from Volivoli Beach.
Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, holds two of Fiji’s best kept diving secrets: the Great Sea Reef and Namena Marine Park.
The Great Sea Reef, the world’s third longest barrier reef, arcs 300 km from the top of Vanua Levu towards the tip of the Yasawa Islands. Though home to 80% of Fiji’s coral fish species, much of the Great Sea Reef is still largely unexplored. It’s the kind of place where you just dive in and see eagle rays, mantas, dolphins and turtles amidst miles and miles of pristine hard and soft corals.
Namena Marine Park is a reef that extends 20km south into the deeper Koro Sea. It’s accessible from the Savusavu dive resorts.
Namena is also on a migratory pathway for cetaceans, so in addition to 1,000-plus species of reef fish and invertebrates, here’s where you could also see big pelagics, dolphins and four species of whale.
Taveuni, south-east of Vanua Levu, is Fiji’s third largest island, home to the Rainbow Reef with over 20 dive sites, and all bar one offer a riot of colour. The exception is the famous Great White Wall, blanketed with soft white corals down as far as the eye can see.
Divers can access the Rainbow Reef from most resorts along Taveuni’s eastern coast as well as from adjacent resorts on Vanua Levu. Diving here is timed for slack water, but even then you can usually expect some current.
Taveuni’s Matei Airport is served by daily flights from both Nadi and Suva.