Poker Face

Destination: Makogai, Namena, Vatu-i-ra, Nananu-i-ra
Trip Date: Dec 10th - Dec 17th, 2022 - Comments
Author: Bel & Mike

The last charter of the year was a mix of diving and poker playing. Joe chartered NAI’A for some of his closest friends who he plays cards with regularly. When they weren’t diving or eating, they were playing poker, one of the many variations they’ve invented over the last 30 years. When they were not diving Fiji’s healthiest reefs, these guys were playing… for hours. We’re not sure who won, but when you’re invited on a diving trip to Fiji, everyone is a winner!

Photo by Paul D'Addario: Fiji Reefs

Photo by Paul D'Addario: Fans

Photo by Bel: Flabelina Rubrolineata

We steamed straight to Makogai and spent our first day getting everyone used to breathing underwater and diving our favorite bommies. We saw a lot of different and new species of nudibranchs, brought on by the warmer season. Lionfish cruised the reef feeding and posing for videos and the soft corals and busy reef top were the stars of the day.

Photo by Bel: Sea Star

Photo by Bob: Spiny Lobster

We moved overnight and spent two days diving the abundant waters of Namena Marine Reserve. We saw Barracudas big and small, huge schools of Trevallies, a number of massive Dogtooth Tunas, pairs of Flame Hawkfish and Palette Surgeons, Golden Mantis Shrimp, a few Grey and White Tip Reef Sharks, clouds of Fusiliers (of every kind) and Redtooth Triggers, Unicornfish, more nudibranchs and had a few close encounters with Humphead Wrasses. Namena never disappoints.

On the first night we had our last Kava Party of 2022, and that makes us appreciate those moments with the crew even more. It certainly is a privilege for very few people to hear such incredible voices sing with such passion in the middle of Fiji. On our second night in Namena, four brave souls ventured on a night dive and saw Stingrays and Pleurobranchs.

Photo by Paul D'Addario: Namena's abundance

Photo by Paul D'Addario: Barracudas, Trevallies, Triggerfish

Photo by Paul D'Addario: Namena

Photo by Bel: Nudibranch

We moved to Vatu-i-ra for two days and had some great dives, especially on the second day when the sun came out. We saw Grey and White Tip Reef Sharks (Park had a VERY close encounter), schooling Cornetfish, Lizzardfish, Sponge Crabs, Moray Eels and watched the fish spectacle at the top of Mellow Yellow. Lenny had a close encounter with Sir William (whoever he may be) in his dream and knocked himself awake in the middle of the night.

Photo by Paul D'Addario: Fans

Photo by Paul D'Addario: White Tip Reef Shark

Photo by Michael: Giant Moray Eel

Photo by Bob: Anthias and Fan

We spent our last day in Nananu-i-ra and had some very close encounters with three Grey Reef Sharks and a lot of Surgeonfish and Fusiliers. It was raining fish on us, and the sun was shining once more. After two lovely dives as we were headed back home to Lautoka, the guys played even more poker. After dinner, they asked us to gather the crew in the salon so they could thank them all for the hard work and excellent service provided. After seeing them off in the morning, we readied ourselves to say goodbye to NAI’A for the next two months. Spending time with our families will be wonderful, but part of our heart remains in Fiji with our NAI’A family. Happy holidays!

Photo by Michael: Nananu-i-ra

Photo by Bel: Linecheeked Wrasse

The most colorful group photo ever. Joe can shop tropical attire!


“I'm sure that it's very difficult for the Nai'a establishment to solve this thorny situation. But, be assured that we, your Nai'a family in a small way, are sympathetic. We realize that the reason we love your trips is that you spend what it takes for a quality voyage. That's why we come back. And that's why we plonk down $10K to sail with you. We know it's worth it.”


~ Steve