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UPCOMING TRIPS

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Destination: Fiji's Bligh Waters, Makogai, Gau, Wakaya & Namena
Trip Date: Apr 30th - May 10th, 2022 - Comments
Author: Bel & Mike
Welcome Back: Steve, Bruce, Bob, Mark, Nancy, Heidi, Jamie-Sue, Jane, Karen D, Karen E, Ardelle, Tami
Congratulations: Bob, Brenda & Tim for their Advanced Open Water certification, Colin for his 100th dive, Karen E for her 800th dive

Mantas and Sharks. Schooling Barracuda and Jacks. A Master of Marine Biology and A Fiji Fish Id Book Author. This 10 day charter was filled with return guests who consider NAI’A their second home, all led by the amazing Dr. Steve Webster. After patiently waiting for 2 years due to the pandemic, it was time they came home.

Photo by: Bruce Thayer

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

Photo by: Bruce Thayer

We welcomed back aboard 12 out of 18 guests. 5 of them formed what came to be called The NAI’A Century Club, since between the four of them they have done 100 trips with us over the years. They brought big smiles, a longing for our beautiful dive sites and generous gifts for Fiji villages and for our staff.

We spent our first two days at Vatu-i-ra exploring the area’s most beautiful dive sites. Some of the dives were very chilled, some required intensive swimming, and others were a wild ride where no matter where you tried to go, the current was against you. Our skiff drivers said the boats were spinning in circles at the surface and Bruce saw some divers bubbles do a summersault before getting all the way to the surface. One thing all the dives had in common was the wide variety of nudibranchs, the healthy hard coral gardens and the ballet of the anthias, damsels and fusiliers on the top reefs. Some of us saw a massive humphead wrasse, a few scorpionfish, and 5 BCDs kicked the bucket. Covid apparently hasn’t just been tough on the economy and the tourism industry, it also took its toll on dive equipment!

That night we had our Kava Party and Tsunami Tami took the trophy for Kava consumption, putting everyone else to shame.

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

We spent our following day at the Sea Mounds indulging on pristine hard corals, schooling barracudas and E6’s breath-taking Cathedral. Upon surfacing from one of the dives, we saw a Sargassum Frogfish with the floating sargassum and got some beautiful photos. That was a fish Mark didn’t have in his book but will on the next edition! Steve really enjoyed the dives and said it’s the healthiest he has ever seen Mount Mutiny and E6 in 20+ years visiting Fiji.

From there we headed to Makogai, an island we hadn’t dived yet, as NAI’A stopped visiting after Cyclone Winston destroyed the dive sites in 2016. We went to Domino’s and Rick’s Rocks to explore and the group gave their seal of approval to add the island to our regular schedule! We saw Juvenile Rockmover Wrasse, Longnose Hawkfish, Scorpionfish, Fiji Clown Blennies and gorgeous bommie tops with lots of life! We then had to move towards Viti Levu for a pit stop and Mark couldn’t help but request a muck dive there. Those who joined did not regret and saw huge Feathermouth Sea Cucumbers (8-10ft), Mantis Shrimps and… Mark saw a new fish he hadn’t seen in Fiji!

We cruise all night (to Heidi’s delight) and woke up in Gau. Our first dives were at Jim’s Alley and Anthia’s Avenue and the Anthia’s crew got gifted 8 Manta sightings! The Jim’s crew saw 1 only, but had a great dive just the same, with Box fish, red anemones and fabulous soft corals. We finished the day’s dives at Nigali with Grey Reef Sharks, a few White Tips, a Peacock Mantis and three massive Yellowfin Mackerels. Our Village Visit at SomoSomo was great as always, full of puppies and warm welcomes. We brought many donations for which they were so grateful, very touched by the generosity of our guests. The ladies showed some serious hip moves during the dances and Bruce got perhaps a little too excited during the Conga line. We thought he would just stay there to be collected during the next visit!

Photo by: Tami Bates

Photo by: Tami Bates

Photo by: Bruce Thayer

The next day we woke up at Wakaya to the best visibility we have ever had there… and no mantas. They were either not there due to the lack of food (hence the fabulous visibility) or… because of the 10ft Tiger Shark hanging around there! Regardless, we had plenty of good dives and, for the first time since December, we had an incoming current and went for a ride down the channel. There, Bel, Ardelle, Nancy and Tami saw flatworms, a couples of Peacock Mantis and a 12-inch Bentstick Pipefish (who knew a pipefish could get so big!!). On the last dive, Bel was meant to finish Bob’s, Brenda’s and Tim’s Advanced Open Water course… but they swam with 50 Pilot Whales instead. Not a bad trade! During the night dive, Chris, Ardelle and Mike hung out with a turtle.

We started our Saturday morning at Namena’s North Save-a-tack diving Grand Central Station, The Arch and Kansas. We had sharks, 3 separate schools of barracudas and a massive school of jacks. Tami found loads of Palette Surgeonfish and Karen & Karen found Twotone and Decorated Dartfish. Bob, Brenda & Tim finished their Advanced Open Water course after acing the feared Fish Id dive and we finished the day with a “muck” dive at Namenalala. We saw the tiniest Whitecap Shrimpgoby, an Eagle Ray, a Humphead Wrasse and an Ornate Ghost Pipefish. On the night dive, we found him again, alongside 3 smaller ones!

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

Photo by: Bruce Thayer

Photo by: Bruce Thayer

Our second day at Namena was again filled with sharks, trevallies and barracudas. We also encountered 3 pygmy seahorses, Zebra Dartfish, Brown-banded Pipefish, flat worms, blue dragons and a blenny gathering of 8. Jamie-Sue and Leslie got a manicure by cleaner shrimp and Bill found a flatworm free-swimming.

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

Photo by: Tami Bates

After a rocky passage, we spent our day at Vuya diving Cat’s Meow, Humann Nature and UndeNAI’Able Pinnacle. We had challenging surface conditions but clear, calm dives with no currents or surge. With those beautiful conditions, we saw loads of macro life and relaxed underwater before we had to rinse dry our gear… Colin assisted with the Brazilian elevator (you must visit NAI’A to learn just what that entails) and Jamie-Sue was so sad about leaving she attached herself to the skiff before back rolling for the first dive. Steve crowned her Diver of the day and gifted her with some skiff rope for her to take home!

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

Photo by: Mark Rosenstein

Photo by: Tami Bates

The rest of the day, as usual, was spent reminiscing about this trip and past ones (and with this group, there were plenty of past trips to talk about!). The final awards were handed, we saw pictures and videos from our adventures and Heidi and Tami presented a heartfelt musical homage to Steve, the man responsible for bringing all these guests together. He truly is a great man, and we look forward to welcoming him (and his followers) aboard NAI’A in the future. Henrietta will be waiting for you!

Photo by: Bruce Thayer 

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