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UPCOMING TRIPS

The virgin sacrifice

Destination: Bligh Water, Namena, Wakaya, Makogai
Trip Date: Jun 24th - Jul 1st, 2023 - Comments
Author: Bel & Mike
Welcome Back: Brett, Colin, Vanessa & Chad
Congratulations: Ron, on his 1,000th dive!

What an incredible week of diving we’ve had! What incredible weather: little to no wind, bright sunshine and not even a drop of night time rain. Multiple hammerhead sightings, dolphins and minke whale encounters, turtle releases... we are suspicious someone sacrificed a virgin for this near-perfect trip.

We welcomed two of our guests an hour prior to the rest of the group. Vanessa and Chad, former Cruise Directors on NAI’A, wanted to see the crew, walk around the ship, say hi to the crew and reminisce for a little before the rest of our guests boarded. Our two return guests – Colin and Brett – had been on trips with Chad and Vanessa before, and returned for this trip with their “kids” Jess and Cole. Also joining us, Kurt and Kole (father-son), Retired Ron, Tien from Vietnam and our Chinese trip Chen, Wang and Liu. Wang entertained Mighty Right on the checkout dive getting the crotch-strap-skiff-wedgy and we set out to Vatu-i-ra right after dinner.

Photo by Mike: Turtle release

Photo by Mike: Vatu-i-ra island on a perfectly calm day

Photo by Brett: Light

The marine reserve treated us with gentle currents and fishy dives. Charlie’s and Howard’s welcomed everyone to start the day gently, at Coral corner we saw sharks rubbing their bellies on the sand, Mellow Yellow delivered all the fishy fish on the 35 minute safety stop, Whole Shebang enchanted with the incredible shallow bommies, Maytag and GoMo delivered sharks, barracudas and a lot of fish drama. The day started with spinner dolphins approaching us at breakfast and finished with great anticipation for our next destination: Namena Marine Reserve.

As always, Namena delivered all the abundance only a marine protected area can offer. On our first day the current worked sideways but straightened to a gentle incoming on the second day. Our South Save-a-tack dives were gentle and critter filled with sightings of golden mantis shrimps, multiple pipefish, ribbon eels, orangutan crabs, cleaner shrimps, small gatherings of barracudas, twotone dartfish and sponge crabs.

Kansas had some octopus action and fusilier madness and Schoolhouse delivered abundance… schooling bannerfish, ocean triggers, rainbow runners, black snappers, barracudas and endless amounts of bigeye trevallies, with a side of reef sharks and palette surgeonfish. Grand Central Station and the Arch took the big fish prize, with many grey reef sharks and the big hammerhead – conjured by the ridiculous dance Bel made everyone do (or the sacrifice of a virgin). On the night dive the big star was the huge marble ray, bigger than Koroi, just resting on the sand.

Our Kava party was an event much feared by Chad, who was made to drink a tsunami bowl almost as big as his head, just to “catch up for the last 4 years”. Kole, Wang and Chad volunteered to drink their own tsunami bowls, and Tien showed us that Vietnamese lions sound a little too much like roosters. With an enthusiastic participation for the goat song, Big Mo described it best: “One team did a great goat sound. The other team sounded like they were chasing the goats”.

Photo by Brett: A handful of fish

Photo by Brett: Fusiliers and the drop

Photo by Mike: Ron's 1,000th dive celebration

We moved to Wakaya for two morning dives looking for mantas, who left us hanging this time, but sent some hammerhead friends in their stead. Kurt even got to see the right end of it this time. We also saw heaps of barracudas, a couple of turtles and leaf scorpionfish and swam through clouds of sea sapphires as if flying through stars. After a quick move, we dived Becky’s at Makogai, always covered with anthias, surgeonsfish and its spectacular gorgonian filled swim-throughs.

Our village visit was a special one, as we got to see the release of three green turtles by the fisheries project on the island. Our guests got name the tagged lady (Bele Levu, Big Bel in Fijian) and watched all three race to freedom. The mekes presented by the villagers were a highlight to the trip, as usual, and Vanessa looked ready to take a child home with her.

Photo by Mike: Makogai village visit

Photo by Mike: Bele Levu makes her way to the water

Photo by Mike: Sunset from Makogai

We started our next day at UndeNAI’Able with incredibly fishy dives at Pinnacle and unbeblievably clear water at Reef. The shallow bommies made an impression and it was suggested we change the site name to Mushroom Garden. Cat’s Meow and Humann Nature created an argument between skiffs as to who had the dives with more fish, as both sites were full of activity. Vanessa actually cried to see how healthy and completely covered in corals the top of Humann Nature is. They worked on NAI’A since right after Cyclone Winston and saw the site slowly recover, but they could not imagine it was now in such pristine condition.

During our 1pm dive, Big Mo, Vernon and Chen saw a Minke Whale pass between the dive sites and NAI’A. After the 4pm dive, we spotted some spinner and bottlenose dolphins and got some guests snorkelling with them. Kole squealed for dolphins, but then screamed in terror as a shark (or remora, it’s debatable) swam right close to his fins. It was time to get back on the skiff! On our night dive we saw several feathermouth sea cucumbers, scorpionfish, moray eels and bearded brotulas.

Photo by Brett: Reef

Photo by Brett: Top of Humann Nature

The winds died down to absolutely nothing on our last day and we dived E6 and Mount Mutiny. At E6 we saw a rare chromodoris kuniei (or Marilyn Monroe nudi), a baby white tip shark and a huge crab being eaten by an even bigger moray eel. Mount Mutiny enchanted with the rainbow wall, the many mini schools of reef fish, the curtain of fusiliers and the stunning reef top. You know it’s incredible when the tec diver is basically snorkelling at the end of the dive!

As if to confirm there had been a virgin sacrifice before this trip, we spotted and gently followed three minke whales from the skiffs. Two big adults (mom and escort) and a calf almost allowed us close enough for in-water interaction, but in the end we just saw them from the surface… very close! We couldn’t ask for more, but the last dive still delivered a huge school of big barracudas and a few grey reef sharks. After that we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the smooth sail back to Lautoka.

Tien's brilliant representation of the Marilyn Monroe nudibranch

Photo by Brett

Photo by Mike: Sunset on flat calm water

They all look innocent... but someone sacrificed a virgin. Any bets on who??

Comments

“I have just had a marvellous 10 days aboard Nai'a. As usual, your Fijian crew are rather special, and all the other guests felt the same. It was so great to be aboard again.”

Quentin, 6-time passenger, New Zealand

~ Quentin, 6-time passenger, New Zealand