Exploratory Trip To Rotuma

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Date: October 28 – November 11, 2006
Destination: Rotuma and Fiji (Vatu-I-Ra, Namena and Makogai)
Returning Passengers: Kandy Kendall, Ann Beisser, Jacqui and Rod Stanley, Jane Titley.
Congratulations: Rob Barrel on completing his Evolution Rebreather course.


Hofliua Island or ‘Spilt Rock', Rotuma.


Welcome back Kandy Kendall and Ann Beisser, Jacqui and Rod Stanley, and Jane Titley to the NAI'A, your home-at-sea. It is great to have you on board again (and again and again…). This time they came back to dive Fiji, of course, and for an exploratory adventure to Rotuma, the northernmost island group under Fijian administration.


Kandy Kendall, Ann Beisser, Jacqui Stanley, Monifa Fiu, Sonia Goggel and Jane Titley.


Monifa Fiu of WWF Fiji and of Rotuman origin, was our Ambassador on this adventure.

Rob Barrel and Steve Reilly were also on board and competed eagerly for the use of the Evolution Rebreather.


Schooling jacks at Rotuma.


We started by paying a visit to a few of the group's old friends, like the red anemones on Cat's Meow and Gomo in Vatu-I-Ra, typically teeming with fish and soft corals. Then, the adventure started as we traveled along the inside of the northwestern Barrier Reef of Vanua Levu Island, crossing ‘unsurveyed' waters and making an exploratory dive at the ‘not recommended' Tevoro passage, where we were welcomed by a Leopard shark and plenty of groupers and whitetip sharks.


Arc eye hawkfish.
Rod Stanley & Jane Titley.


As the weather was benevolent at the time, we decided to cross to Rotuma on the 3rd day of the trip. Twenty seven hours later we arrived and were welcomed by islands covered in lush rainforest and surrounded by white beaches and black cliffs, truly a tropical paradise. We immediately prepared to go diving in the crystal clear waters of Haua Island. Coral growth was scarce, but we saw plenty of juvenile fish, nudibranchs, schooling reef fish, humphead wrasses, whitetip sharks and a few turtles.


Sonia Goggel, Jane Titley and Monifa Fiu.


Strong winds and rain accompanied us on the next day, but not withstanding, we went diving. Hofhaviyunglola or ‘the rock to dry copra on', offered interesting diving and very clear visibility, with schooling bigeye jacks, black snappers and rainbow runners, and quite some flame angelfish.


Thor shrimp.
Waves over reef top at Rotuma.
Cathedral at E6.


For our third day in Rotuma we had planned to dive on the famous and photogenic Hofliua Island or ‘Spilt Rock', which takes its name from a large split in the cliffs and a huge rock wedged in the split. The high and narrow island looked impressive, covered in abundant vegetation and sea birds, with high swells crashing against the large cliffs. Definitely worth a visit!


Fan at E6.
Monifa enjoying the sun.


Due to the continuing strong wind and its unfavorable direction, and due to huge swells and the forecast of unstable and stormy weather, we decided to return to Fiji. Thirty six hours later, and after plenty of reading and resting, movie watching and eating, we arrived back in Fiji, keen to go on diving.


Blue ribbon eel.


Fiji welcomed us back with sunshine, but the strong wind and high seas only left us on the last three days. We kept diving everybody's favorites, basking amongst Fiji's lush soft corals, fans and huge schools of fish, and admiring a wide array of critters. The luxuriant chironephthya soft corals of Mount Mutiny kept us hostage for a whole day, and E6's unique cavern system, covered in soft corals and fans, did the same on the next day.


Chironephthya soft coral.
Pipe organ coral.


Jacqui and Ann photographed those black and blue ribbon eels to their heart's content, and got some great soft coral wide-angles, too, and many more awesome goodies. They are considering permanent residence at Mount Mutiny. We always knew where to find them, either in the camera room or at their computers, studying their photographs, surrounded by a group of admiring fans. Thank you Jacqui, for your remarkable stories, which kept us rolling on the floor laughing.


Green cup coral.


Jane was everybody's favorite spotter, night-time entertainer and magician, making capsules give birth to sea animals in hot water, and covering everybody's toe nails with floral arrangement stickers…. You have to see it to believe it!!


Sea fan.
Orange fin anemonefish.
Rob Barrel & daughter Parri enjoying the music.


Rod must have made friends with at least half the population of Fijian shrimp gobies, who are now happily represented on his video footage


Randalls goby and shrimp.


Kandy's legendary steady hand kept us in awe of her video footage. We usually found her blending in with schooling fish in the blue, or with Fiji's finest soft corals and clouds of Damsels hovering above pristine hard corals, to name only a few favorites. Thank you for your contagious enthusiasm, Kandy, and … watch out for those lionfish!


Hard coral garden.
Chironephthya soft coral.


Rob and Grant got almost too close to those hammerheads with their Evolution Rebreathers, and ‘Mr. Fix-it' Steve, bubbled happily amongst them, and ingeniously repaired ever so many things for everybody.

Monifa got a taste for the fish, and might even find them more interesting than coral in due time.


Cat Holloway with daughters Parri and Malia on Vatu-i-ra Island.


Lots of fun for everyone, when Cat and the girls joined us for the last two days. Cat had the chance to visit old fish friends again, at last, and to relax amongst the soft corals and fans of E6 and Mount Mutiny, while Malia and Parri kept our smiles broad and our hearts happy.


Dolphins bow riding.
Sunset over NAI'A.


We had an awesome time diving and sharing the wonders of Fijian waters with all of you again. We hope it will not be the last time you come to visit your NAI'A family and second home. With a happy pod of dolphins jumping around NAI'A's bow and tears in our eyes we say, ‘take care and, hopefully, see you again soon!!'

Guest Comments

NAI'A and her crew,
Thank you for a great experience. The Rotuma exploration was brief but exciting. “Faieksia” (thank you) to all onboard, have never been on such a good boat with a good set of people.
PS: Will miss the pampering!!
“Hanisiof” Love,

Monifa Fiu, Suva, Fiji

NAI'A crew and family,
Thank you for always welcoming me back to my home-away-from home!

Jane Titley, Tucson, AZ

Thank you all for a wonderful trip. We always look forward to coming aboard NAI'A and seeing our friends, old and new.
The Rotuma voyage was exciting and gave us a taste for more. It is great to see Cat, Rob and the girls and we really enjoyed laughing and diving with Sonia and Grant.
See you again soon – or you are all welcome in Wolf-eel Country!

Jacqui and Rod Stanley, Houston, TX

To Sonia, Grant and Crew,
Thank you for a wonderful journey
Sonia, I appreciate your boundless energy and your zest for the sea, you gave us such a gift.
Grant, what a guy – such a techy geek – wow, what a movie

Guys, Crew, we felt so safe in your care, we love the music you make together; truly, you are a family.
Rob, Cat and family: It was so fabulous to have you all along.
I love you All,

Ann Beisser, Scottsdale, AZ

It has been a fantastic voyage! Eventhough we were unable to stay – it was so wonderful to venture out to new waters.
Sonia, Grant and all of the crew were fabulous! You all worked so hard to accommodate us. It is always so wonderful to return to NAI'A. I feel so welcome. Thank you all for making yet another journey aboard NAI'A so very special!!

Kandy Kendall, Scottsdale, AZ


Jacqui Stanley

Monifa Fiu


Longnose hawkfish
Hingebeak shrimp.
Orangefin anemonefish.
Juvenile wrasse.
Soft coral cowrie.
Xmas tree worm.
A boobie & Grant.