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Fiji is well known as "The Soft Coral Capital of the World" - a mecca of diving opportunities, the underwater scenery is as spectacular as the trophies that exist above water. Well facilitated for dive masters and total beginners alike, some places are serene and perfect for learning, whereas others enjoy boisterous currents to kick-start your adventure. Here we look at just a handful of Fiji’s diving highlights.
1. Taveuni Island
The world’s best kept diving secrets still remain in Fiji, notably Taveuni and the Koro Sea. Sure you’ve read about Rainbow’s Reef and its abundance of dive sites, but this entire area supports an absolutely colossal marine ecosystem. The result? An almost hedonistic underwater display of healthy reef life and impeccable visibility; spectacles of colour, pelagic fish species, barracudas, reef sharks and manta rays. The currents are minimal, the diving immaculate.
Beginners: Fish Factory. A great option for beginners as well as experienced divers. If you’re a newbie, you’ll feel comfortable at the 10 metre depth range, which still offers a stunning white sand floor and a multitude of coral bommies. Look out for turtles swimming along the rock wall.
Intermediate: Coral Gardens. Three streams of lava that once flowed into the ocean lead divers from a relatively shallow sea bed to breath-taking great depths. From there you’ll be treated to larger reef fish and parrotfish, including triggerfish and surgeonfish which also frequent these marine-rich parts.
Veterans: The Great White Wall. Now this one is a doozy. Divers travel across the globe to experience the Great White Wall and it’s all yours – at the end of a mere three hour flight. So called because it’s blanketed with white coral, the wall is a sudden ‘snow-covered’ drop and without doubt, one of the most dramatic diving sights your eyes will ever encounter.
WHEN TO GO: Year-round diving opportunities are available but the main diving season is April to October.
2. Viti Levu Island
We have one word for you. Shark feeding. Okay, that’s two, but get excited because it actually happens here. Not one for those with a weak disposition - or those who like their fingers. We jest. Whether you’re after an adrenaline surge or a more casual underwater encounter, Viti Levu boasts both Shark Reef and Rakiraki; two of Fiji’s premier diving locales.
Beginners & intermediates: Rakiraki: Jaw dropping coral reefs, spectacular pinnacles and a huge amount of fish traffic, Rakiraki dives are justifiably world-class. The reefs are unspoilt and characterised by hard coral walls and enormous volumes of pelagic fish, while dramatic drop-offs and an abundance of underwater challenges make this area spectacular for even the most discerning diver.
Veterans: Shark Reef: The much talked about shark feeding dives occur in the waters off Pacific Harbour, in the hard coral reef. Apt divers must have at least 10 logged dives to participate and the ability to remain calm. Eight species of shark like to frequent these parts; bull (Zambezi) sharks, tawny nurse sharks, whitetip, blacktip, grey reef sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, silvertips and - wait for it - the mother of all sea beasts, the notorious tiger shark. With depths of 30 metres and ample opportunity to swim above, beneath and amongst these mighty fine fish, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed.
WHEN TO GO: July August and September are the best months for visibility, while the warmest water (approx. 29°C) occurs in the summertime, from November to April.
3. Beqa Lagoon
Lying just south of Viti Levu, Beq Lagoon is one of the most popular Fiji diving locales because it’s on the doorstep to an international airport, which removes the need for an additional domestic flight. Secondly, with over 100 dive sites in the greater Beqa area, it’s also one of the world's largest barrier reefs, boasting over 150 square kilometres of clear water and 30 solid kilometres of reef. The water sits around 26°C for most of the year and there’s everything from pinnacles to bommies, fringing reefs and shipwrecks. You sold yet?
Beginners: Fantasea. Regarded as one of the top dive sites in Beqa Lagoon, depths of 5-19 metres make it ideal for beginners. Although strong currents can cause cancellations, when it's placid, the experience is phenomenal. The slight spiral nature of the dive persuades visitors to naturally spiral down in an anticlockwise direction, absorbing colourful reef fish and sponge covered walls en route.
Intermediate: Carpet Cove: Featuring two unmissable highlights, Carpet Cove plays host to a purposely-sunk Japanese trawler at a depth of roughly 20-30 metres, and spectacular pinnacles that rise up to five metres underwater. Watch for lionfish darting in and out of the shipwreck’s decaying framework as well as blue ribbon eels and plenty of carpet anemones such as clown fish.
Veterans: ET. So called because ‘it’s out of this world’, not only is the ET dive site a diverse landscape of underwater obscurities, it’s also extremely vast; you’re unlikely to cover even half of it on your debut dive. An enormous tunnel which splits into two separate chambers is a unique feature of ET, so take a torch and be confident in deep, dark depths – who knows what’s lurking in the abyss?
WHEN TO GO: Conditions can vary, but you can go diving in Beqa Lagoon all year round. Water temperatures stay between 24°C and 28°C, but for the best visibility, we recommend July to September.
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