VITI LEVU, Fiji I peered over the side of the boat as I put my
scuba diving equipment on, but could only imagine the colorful sea
life beneath the surface of the dark blue water. My first boat dive
ever and here I was in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean off
the coast of Fiji.
My traveling companion, a deep-sea shipwreck diver from Alaska,
had far more diving experience than I. He couldn’t wait to get
underwater to see the famed bright corals and varied fish of Fiji’s
warm ocean waters. The honeymoon couple who sat beside us on dive
boat from Namale resort relayed the thrill of each of the dives
they had undertaken to complete the resort’s dive certification
With the guidance of a travel agent and a set budget, they chose
resorts on Beqa Island and off the northern coast of Taveuni.
“It was such a long, crazy trip to get to Fiji,” one of the
newlyweds said, before smiling broadly. “But I’d do it again in a
Now it was my turn. While it took some personalized attention
from Isaac, the resort’s dive instructor, holding my hand as we
dove, I soon shared the amazement of swimming around huge coral
mounds teaming with reef fish and the occasional water snake,
shark, turtle or eel.
Popular images of the far-flung islands of the South Pacific
usually conjure up visions of coconut palm trees bowing over
white-sand beaches. For many visitors to the region, however, the
most exciting images lie beneath the warm, tropical South Pacific
Ocean waters. Fiji particularly holds a world-class reputation for
its underwater diving spots and industry. The numerous reefs and
abundant sea life surrounding the islands appeal to both absolute
beginners and experienced professionals in the sport.
Visitors have several island groups to choose from among Fiji’s
top scuba diving locations. While some resorts specialize in
diving, others offer diving as part of their roster of many
activities or will at least arrange for it from providers
In the remote, southern Kadavu group, the famous Astrolabe Reef
boasts some of the best reef-wall dives and drift-diving (with the
currents), as well as close-up encounters with sharks and schools
of reef fish. Also to the south, Beqa Lagoon provides spectacular
coral reef passages and organized outings for shark sightings.
Tourists commonly dive the accessible Coral Coast on the
southwest of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu and the Mamanuca and
Yasawa island groups to its west. To the north, the third largest
island of Taveuni presents the challenging Somosomo Strait with
strong currents along the Great White Wall and vibrant soft corals
of the Rainbow Reef.
On the southeast coast of Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest
island, the resorts surrounding Savusavu Bay and the Koro Sea offer
an abundance of dive outings and range of service.
True to its luxury standards, Namale resort offers a daily
complimentary one-tank scuba dive to certified and non-certified
divers. It also provides complimentary introductory scuba training
for resort diving and a review session for previously certified
The Dive Namale resort marina staff of professional instructors
and dive masters focuses on guests’ individual needs. If a beginner
feels reassured having her hand held throughout the dive, the dive
instructor likely will do so.
Given its degree of personalized service, guests are often
inspired to try diving for the first time after hearing the tales
from already certified diving guests or those going through the
As many as 30 dive sites can be reached within five to 30
minutes of the resort including wall dives, drift dives and
numerous canyons. The region is famous for its multi-colored soft
corals of blues, greens, oranges and pinks. Big fish, such as
grouper, can readily be seen as well as small white-tip reef sharks
The L’Aventure Dive Shop at Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands
Resort ventures to many of the same spots in the Koro Sea plus
others. Its 37-foot dive boat can handle 12 divers in half-day
trips or full-day outings.
The dive shop regularly features a specialty full-day outing to
Namena Island, a small island 20 miles south of Savusavu. The site
features steep drop-offs and many big fish including tuna and manta
Within the perimeter of Savusavu Bay, divers can spot poisonous
sea snakes and scorpion fish, and marvel at vibrant fan-shaped soft
The dive shop caters to large, experienced groups. They recently
served a California-based company of professional underwater
photographers who requested several night dives when more fish come
in sight. Beginners can visit the dive shop for a free scuba
introduction. The resort charges $65 for a one-tank dive and extra
fees for equipment rental. Its resort diving course costs $135.
Off the northwest coast of Vanua Levu, the remote Nukubati
Island offers exclusive resort diving access to the Great Sea Reef,
the third largest barrier reef in the world. Nukubati promotes
scuba diving as its premier activity, with the reef a half-hour
boat ride from the resort.
The area features deep blue waters, vast stretches of hard white
corals, brilliant orange and red soft-coral tubes and rods, purple
starfish, rare seashells, barracuda and other game fish.
Nukubati provides each couple or dive group with its own boat
and personal dive master. Guests must be certified already, as the
diving staff does not include instructors. On the plus side, the
presence of only dive masters can give more freedom to advanced
One guest, who formerly dove while in military service on Oahu,
reacquainted himself with the sport while his wife read on the
boat. The boat staff attentively navigated for his surfacing.
Another married couple dove to a depth of 80 feet for the first
A single-tank dive costs $65 with a one-time equipment charge of
$30. Guests can enjoy a picnic lunch on the boat.
It’s a great way to spend a day in paradise, and the real
excitement is just below the waves.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort
All resorts offer agent commission.