Sunshine, night storms and rainbows

Destination: Bligh Water, Wakaya, Makogai, Namena
Trip Date: Mar 23rd - Mar 30th, 2024 - Comments
Author: Bel&Mike
Congratulations: Sarah (100th dive), Amanda (200th dive), Cindy (300th dive), Lauren (700th dive), Janet (2400th dive), plus Matthew and Lauren for their birthdays. There sure was a lot of celebration!

Water temperature: 84-86F/29-30C

Another week, another fantastic trip! After spending our last trip diving the Lau group, we were ready to get back to our regular itinerary with the absolute best diving in Fiji! We saw multiple hammerheads, many white tip and grey reef sharks, a wide variety of nudibranchs and some special critters. We had fantastic weather with very little wind throughout the trip, some beautiful sunny days, wild rainstorms at night and a few beautiful rainbows.

This was a rare trip with no return guests, but we had friends visiting, friends of Rob (one of our bosses), friends of prior NAI’A guests and a whole lot of great divers who were here to do the work (currents) and enjoy the magnificent reefs. Their boarding was delayed due to the intense rain in the mainland, so we left the checkout dive for the following day. That first afternoon we just gave them the full NAI’A orientation, got camera gear ready and got to know one another.

Photo by Janet: Sweetlip gets cleaned by a shrimp

Photo by Matthew: Sara in the Cathedral

Photo by Kate: Namena's reef with the Tetons on the right

After a long but calm crossing, Vatu-i-ra hosted us for the day. We started with an easy dive at Alacrity with a few nudibranchs, flatworms and a soft coral crab. For the other 3 dives, we explored Mellow Yellow (covered in too many fish as usual), Coral Corner (mellow with tons of time at the very top for Righty, sharky and “windy” for Lefty), Maytag (Lefty - gentle current and full of nudis) and Howards Diner (Righty). Howard’s rubble area has now fully transitioned to almost full coral coverage, and astonishing change in the 2 short years we have been here. Fiji’s corals really do give us reason to hope! The current got too wild and we called the night dive off, a decision validated by the storm that came out of nowhere.

The next day we were at the Sea Mounts all day, again with mild surface conditions. E6’s Cathedral and shallow bommie garden won the hearts of our guests, who thought at times they were in an aquarium. A big school of barracudas and a hammerhead added a touch of wow to the dives of a few lucky guests. At Mount Mutiny we had more hammerhead sightings and the usual reaction to the Rainbow Wall and the shallow hard coral gardens: WOW. Again and again, WOW. The currents (yes, more than one) made us dance around and adjust our plans, but we managed to do it all safely. In the afternoon, we surfaced to a beautiful rainbow right behind NAI’A, picture perfect! On the night dive, Righty got up-close and personal with a baby white tip shark and a friendly scrawled filefish.

Photo by Bill: Jellyfish

Photo by Matthew: Lionfish

Photo by Sara: End of dive 4

Photo by Matthew: Gorgonians

We moved to Wakaya for a very sharky morning. We had no mantas around, but still plenty to look at. A few barracudas, a leaf scorpionfish, sea spider, friendly cleaner shrimps, orange-barred garden eels, schooling cornetfish and… hammerheads. A couple of big loners and one school (10-15) of smaller ones. It was the birthday present from King Neptune to Matthew! In Makogai the bommie dives had some critters like longnose hawkfish and a roboastra nudi. Our village visit was absolutely incredible. The newly-hatched turtles were painfully adorable, and tearing ourselves away from the children was a challenge.

Photo by Janet: Blenny

Photo by Janet: Cleaner shrimp

Photo by Mike: Wakaya

Photo by Mike: Village visit in Makogai

Photo by Mike: Baby turtles

Lauren’s birthday was next, and she got two days at Nemana Marine Reserve to celebrate. Lucky us who got to enjoy it with her in the most abundant area in Fiji. We had more hammerhead sightings, more sharks, big tunas and mackerels, schools of trevallies, snappers, surgeonfish, triggerfish, barracudas… We had to work for it at times (full moon currents), but it was ALWAYS worth it! Other highlights included turtles, squarespotted anthias, many nudibranchs, ribbon eel, golden mantis shrimp, pygmy seahorse, spadefish, sweetlips, spotted crouchers, flame hawks, an eagle ray, zebra and decorated dartfish and many palette surgeonfish. What could make this better?? Double rainbow!

On our first night we had a lot of dancing with our kava party. We discovered our great divers are not such great goats, but our crew impressed everyone with their amazing voices. Sarah and Tricky drank the most kava, and everyone had a fantastic time. On our second night in Namena, four brave souls did the night dive and got to hang our with a VERY friendly turtle.

Photo by Bill: Bigeye trevallies

Photo by Janet: Male ribbon eel

Photo by Bill: Friendly barracudas

Photo by Janet: Fire dartfish stretching his mouth

Photo by Matthew: Lizzardfish

The journey to Vuya was extremely calm and our dives were nothing short of superb, the perfect way to end the trip. Cats was elected as the best coral on the trip. At Humann Nature we saw a very chilled turtle and a very shy comet. At UndeNAI’Able Reef and Pinnacle, nudibranchs were abundant and so were the fusiliers. Despite the nasty forecast, the winds were mild and the sun even came out a few times. Tricky said it’s all due to his great luck with weather on dive trips. Whatever it was, we are all thankful, Tricky. Although I’m sure a few guests are right now regretting the late celebration last night!

Photo by Sara: Blue dragon

Photo by Janet: A very high turtle

Photo by Janet: Leopard blenny

Our fabulous group!


“Fiji is a hot spot of biodiversity. We’re here for the rich colorful soft coral reefs as well as the unusual stuff - the strange little creatures and endemic fishes.”

Dr. Tim Laman, biologist and National Geographic Photojournalist

~ Dr. Tim Laman, biologist and National Geographic Photojournalist