Finding Greg

Destination: Bligh Water, Namena, Wakaya, Makogai
Trip Date: May 4th - May 11th, 2024 - Comments
Author: Bel&Mike
Welcome Back: Greg, Kathi&Connie, Christine, Tash, Jim Mc
Congratulations: Scott on his 500th dive and Brad on his 700th dive!

Water Temperature: 27C/80-81F and dropping

It’s a hard life, that of a NAI’A Cruise Director. Meeting fabulous people you want to keep forever, only to have to bid them goodbye after seven short days! Greg, the fierce group leader of this ruckus bunch (and the big bear who turned out to be a teddy bear), sure knows how to select his clientele. Since he dragged them all the way to Fiji, they decided to spend some time diving before boarding NAI’A, and that meant we didn’t have to do a checkout dive. They had a lovely time diving Bligh and Somosomo Straight, but even a better time with our crew. The elusive hammerhead remained hidden during this trip, but the mantas sure showed up in numbers, and the 3 huge silvertips weren’t so bad either.

Photo by Christine: A fishy dive

Photo by Chad: Flabelina

Photo by Chad: Popcorn shrimp

Throughout our trip we were very fortunate with the current. We mainly had just enough to open up all the soft corals and keep all the fish together, but rarely enough to cause too much hassle. Even in Vatu-i-ra, where we started our journey, the sea gods were kind and giving. All our dives were incredibly fishy, especially Mellow Yellow and Maytag. Turtle, sharks, barracudas, trevallies, blue velvet angelfish, Spanish mackerels… And some special nudibranchs we don’t see all the time. Bligh delivered an amazing first day of diving. The three brave souls who joined the night dive saw some interesting crabs, huge shrimps and many soft corals.

We moved to Namena and spoiled our guests with even more incredible dives. On the “big stuff”  side we saw sharks, barracudas, trevallies, snappers, groupers, hunting tunas and Spanish mackerels. As for critters, the nudi nerds got their fill of them, as well as ribbon eel, pygmy seahorses (on 3 different sites!), golden mantis shrimps, orangutan crabs, palette surgeons (Dory!), squerespot anthias, spotted crouchers and decorated as well as zebra dartfish. Two days of Namena fun are unbeatable, and Deco the Octo made it even better. It danced for us and posed for photos with most of Mighty Righty, all down at 85ft… which is how it got the name. We all pushed within our safety limits but eventually had to say goodbye. Our night dive had a massive bluntend seahare and a cute sleeping turtle. Dude! Our kava party was soooooo much fun! Robby stayed up with the boys until late, and Shaun joined the singing during the “after party”.

Photo by Christine: Fiji colors

Photo by Christine: Robby being Robby

Photo by Christine: Deco and Tash

Photo by Christine: More Fiji colors

Photo by Chad: Pontohi pygmy seahorse

It was hard to leave Namena behind, but we had high hopes for great manta ray encounters, which we absolutely had! Including both dives, we saw a minimum of 8 mantas, many of which we managed to identify. Billy Jean, M240, Ratu Lailai, M469, a possibly pregnant Distinguished and the flappiest of all mantas, Flapuccino. Oh, how fun it is to dance with them! There were so many that even Shaun managed to see them. Other sightings included a turtle, a leaf scorpionfish and the two “dental hygienist” shrimps, who entertained Robby while we waited for the mantas. In Makogai, the currents made our dives tricky, but the mythological 10ft giant pufferfish was spotted, so that’s ok. Connie was our chief for the village visit (there’s never too much kava for her!) and the cool breeze made it for a very pleasant walk, although limited due to the muddy grounds. By the end of the visit, our guests were ready to each take a child back with them, but we left them all there (I think).

Photo by Christine: Distinguished, the manta we named last September

Photo by Jim T: Village visit

Photo by Jim T: Sunset in Makogai

Photo by Mike: Makogai

We spent the following day diving Vuya, and once again we were gifted mild currents and an absurd abundance of fish and healthy corals. The fluorescent anemones at Cats got many “heart” signs underwater, a small turtle hung out with the guests at Humann Nature, and several nudibranchs dotted our dives throughout the day. Inside the crevices we had whitespotted groupers, manyspotted sweetlips and humphead banners. On the night dive, this time with only Chad and Robby, we saw several cammo-crabs including depressed, hydroid and spider crabs. Not to mention the white tip shark!

Photo by Mike: UndeNAI'Able

Photo by Chad: Rare nudis!

Photo by Chad: A depressed crab

Photo by Chad: Spider crab

The final chapter of our journey took place at the Sea Mounts. The water temperature dropped 1 degree Fahrenheit since Wakaya, and here our most abundant hard coral gardens are looking as beautiful as ever, with barely any signs of bleaching. Small reef fish, coral extravaganza, scorpionfish, barracudas and three friendly silvertip sharks were the perfect way to end this glorious week. Greg, you and your greglings will be sorely missed. Thank you for a fantastic time and all the laughter. We hope our paths cross again in the future!

Photo by Christine: Anemone fish and diver

Photo by Chad: Randall's shrimpgoby

Photo by Christine: Barracudas

Our intrepid group. Minus Brad.


“Lomaiviti reefs are in extremely good condition compared to Indonesia and PNG. Immediate action must be taken to conserve this unique region.”

Dr. Michael Marnane, Marine Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society

~ Dr. Michael Marnane, Marine Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society