Water Temperature: 75-77F/24-25C steady. Should start rising (not a moment too soon!)
Ooops, Fiji did it again! What an unbelievable week we had with our latest band of misfits! We had dives so filled with fish and healthy reefs, someone said they had to look away at times, so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Schools and more schools of trevallies, barracudas, snappers, pinjalos, bannerfish and triggerfish. Hammerhead sightings. Manta dances. A multitude of different nudibranchs. Healthy reefs and aaaall the anthias and fusiliers anyone could ever ask for.
Photo by Laura Tesler: Fiji = Soft corals
Photo by Laura Tesler: Sexy (twerking) shrimp
Photo by Bel: Manta ray
Our guests boarded NAI’A a little later than usual, so they hit the ground running. Checkout dive done, orientation completed, crew introduction finished, we headed out to Vatu-i-ra. The currents at the marine reserve were mild despite the approaching new moon. Just a gentle blow that helped gather all the “good stuff” in small areas for our guests to admire. Fish abounded everywhere with shark appearances at Coral Corner. At Charlie’s garden, critters such as whip coral shrimps, sponge crabs and various nudibranchs tried to steal the attention from the gorgeous coral garden in the shallows. During our lunch break, Bel helped two boobies who landed on our bow, much to the entertainment of everyone who was around. Her boobie screech is weirdly realistic.
We moved to Wakaya and got everyone on the morning dives, even the late risers could not resist the possibility of mantas. And they were not disappointed. Dorothy, Flapucinno, Firefly, M240, Distinguished and a few others showed up for their beauty stop at the cleaning station. Adding to this, a sighting of the great hammerhead in the shallows, turtles, barracudas, grey reef sharks and some many leaf scorpionfish. After dive 3, we moved to Wakaya and Gene was our chief for the village visit. He rather enjoyed the title and he did represent us well. Right up until he had a “mini scare” during the mekes. Setoki will not soon leave his nightmares!
Photo by Laura Tesler: Whip coral shrimps
Photo by Laura Tesler: Anthias
Photo by Bel: Dorothy says hi
Photo by Mike: Makogai
Photo by Mike: Village visit
A bumpy ride brought us to Namena, and if you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Namena never disappoints. Our two days were filled with critters (various nudibranchs, octopus, ribbon eels, orangutan crabs, golden mantis shrimps, leopard blenny, squarespotted anthias) and schooling fish (triggerfish, trevallies, bannerfish, snappers, pinjalos, surgeons, unicornfish, barracudas), as well as a sea krait, a huge blotched stingray, a few hammerheads, grey reef sharks, enormous tunas and Spanish mackerels. Wow. Alexis suggested we change the name of Schoolhouse to Schoolhouse Rocks. We may just take her up on that!
A curious sighting of a different shark (a bronze whaler shark) caught the attention on Lucky Lefty. Our kava party was great fun and a highlight as usual. We don’t tire of saying what a privilege those evenings are. And this time we must say we had the most creative (although far from accurate) animal sounds so far. And on the night dive… the brave trio returned impressed with the two massive pleurobranchs and the two huge “weird-ass crabs”. Poor little crab.
Photo by Laura Tesler: Window at Kansas
Photo by Laura Tesler: Coral grouper photobombing
Photo by Leslie: Blotched stingray
Photo by Laura Tesler: Golden mantis shrimp
Photo by Laura Tesler: Humphead wrasse getting a good clean
We had a gentle passage to Vuya and a beautiful day of diving some of the most iconic dive sites in Fiji. Healthy reefs surrounded by clouds of surgeonfish, unicornfish and various fusiliers set the stage for other special sightings. Turtles, schooling barracudas, sexy shrimps, teeny tiny nudibranchs, huge tunas and Spanish mackerels. We had it all. Healthy hard corals? Check! Soft corals? Double check! We even heard dolphins during one of the dives.
And finally, for our last day, we explored the Sea Mounts. The wind dropped just enough to allow us to dive these incredible sites with some of the best hard corals in Fiji, as well as the Rainbow Wall, covered in neon chironephthyas. Every corner of the reef presented us with colorful corals, anemones and small fish. A few white tips and hunting trevallies cruised around, and a turtle graced us with his/her very stone presence and Mike found an enormous scorpionfish. It’s always wonderful to finish the trip here with vibrant, peaceful, relaxing dives. We then headed back to Lautoka, once again so grateful for another amazing journey.
Photo by Laura Tesler: Sweetlips and fan
Photo by Laura Tesler: A small tambja
Photo by Laura Tesler: Flabelina
Photo by Laura Tesler: Schooling barracuda (NOT mackerels!)
Photo by Laura Tesler: Fiji is also hard corals!
Photo by Don: Gorgeous chironephthyas
Our band of misfits!
“We loved every minute of our time with you in Tonga! It could not have been any better. Each and every member of the NAI’A team was outstanding and each of you made our whale expedition unforgettable. The whales, the hospitality, the guides, the skiff driving, the dinners and the singing and kava… Everything was wonderful. It was the best honeymoon ever!”
~ Buzz & Ellie