What is the biggest mistake you can make on a trip to Fiji? Not going scuba diving!
The chain of over 300 islands in the South Pacific is more than just beautiful beaches and huts over pristine waters. Fiji has lush rainforests, over 700 miles of coastline, variable terrain with exotic animal and plant life, some of the friendliest people in the world, and the most colorful coral reef systems in the world. It is also home to coral gardens, an important part of preserving the amazing underwater world of Fiji.
It might not be term many are familiar with, but it is a growing science you can find in the vibrant South Pacific Islands of Fiji. With the destruction of coral reefs due to environmental factors, coral gardening has become a saving grace to the struggling reefs. Fishermen are trained by biologists to aid small coral trying to grow by bringing them to a platform where they can get the sunlight and nutrients they need. Once they grow larger and strong enough to survive, they will be replanted.
As the soft coral capital of the world, coral gardening has become a practice to help save coral reefs. The beautiful systems in Fiji have over 390 coral species and 1,200 fish species. It would be a mistake if you didn’t spend a day diving in the Fiji Islands and seeing these natural wonders with your own eyes. After getting up close and personal with the fish, then you can get back to relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches or taking a tour to experience Fiji and its people.
The main island in Fiji is Viti Levu, and there are numerous dive sites that offer not only an amazing experience but an eye opening environmental lesson. As the world’s largest scuba diving organization, PADI (Professional Association of Diving InstructorsⓇ) offers travelers a chance to experience diving in some of the world’s most incredible dive sites. It centers its experience on safety and education.
Part of truly appreciating a dive is about feeling comfortable as well as understanding the importance and environmental impact of the coral systems and animal life that resides in each dive site. PADI centers their experience on these ideas. With more than 6,000 dive centers all over the world, including one in Fiji, it is an opportunity that cannot be missed in the soft coral capital of the world.
One of the most amazing spots to explore is Dive Wananavu. It is a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort located on the northern coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. The dive explores the notorious Bligh Waters. Some of the major dives in the site include –
- Mount Mutiny – Nicknamed “Rainbow Reef” it has some vibrantly colored reefs that many claim are the most beautiful in the world.
- Mellow Yellow – It has an abundance of yellow soft coral trees and hoards of fish.
- Black Magic Mountain – You will see swarms of schooling fish such as Big Eye Jacks and Pickhandle Barri’s. It is also home to Eagle Rays and a variety of sharks.
- Pure Magic – The currents have to be just right and when they are, an underwater paradise blooms with fish and coral that draws many underwater photographers.
- Neptune’s Rhapsody – This has caverns you can explore as well as many invertebrates and sharks.
- Dream Maker – Gorgonian fans and schools of fish make this a spectacular area for wide angle photos with dreamy backgrounds.
Off the South Western Side of Viti Levu is another amazing dive location near Namotu in the Mamanuca Islands. Just a short plane ride or a nice boat ride from the main island, the dive sites in this area is known as Fish Market.
It offers divers a vast array of marine life such as coral trout, reef fish, and turtles (Fiji is home to five of the seven marine turtle species.) The inner reef dive offers calmer waters and plenty to see, but if you want to venture to the deeper, oceanside barrier reef, you might catch sight of dolphins, manta rays, and massive fish along your dive.
After a day of diving, take a break on one of the many coral beaches or if you are staying on Viti Levu, the Natadola beach is one of the few white sand beaches in Fiji. While Viti Levu does have public transportation available, it is easier to get around the island with a rental car. Renting is easy, and it will give you the freedom to see and do all you have planned, at your own pace.
If you want to Island hop, there are plenty of tour guides that offer boat rides and excursions to neighboring islands. You can also take advantage of the quick plane rides offered or even take a ride on a seaplane.
If you want a more active adventure, near the south west side of the island, north of Nadi, you can find the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Take a jungle walk among the native plants and see over two thousand kinds of orchids. This garden oasis was originally designed for Richard Burr’s (star of Perry Mason) personal collection, but it has become a major local attraction.
I can’t think of a better place to jump out of a perfectly good plane, than Fiji. My first jump was over the turquoise waters, in a tank top and shorts, landing softly on a beautiful deserted beach. Who could ask for more? *NOTE* If you’ve gone scuba diving, as a safety precaution, just as with flying, you’ll need to wait at least 24 hours before making this jump!
Souvenirs are always a necessity. You can find great shopping areas in Suva on the Southeastern side of Viti Levu and Port Denarau Shopping Centre on the southwestern side. These shopping areas have everything from surf gear to confectionary delicacies. Whether you are looking for wine or a handcrafted trinket to capture the essence of Fiji, you can find something to take home for friends and family…or yourself!
Near Nadi is Denarau Island with an abundance of delicious restaurants and nightlife to spend the evening enjoying island life. Their is something for everyone and atmospheres for any direction you want to take the night. Suva also has bars for a good nightcap and some dancing. In Suva you will find The Purple Haze Nightclub, Traps Bar, and the DownUnder Pub.
Most Importantly, interact with the locals and immerse yourself in the culture of the islands. Fiji is known to have the friendliest people in the world. Be open to their warm hospitality and learn about the history and culture through their eyes. Fiji has a lot to offer its guests not only in atmosphere but in generosity. Make the most of your trip and pack in the activities including an epic diving trip!
This was written on behalf of PADI. All opinions remain my own.