Back In It To Win It
For those who are regular readers of the Divemaster Diaries and who have been following our adventures over the last month, you will know that we have been facing challenge after challenge from Mother Nature: a couple of cyclones here and there, waves like we’ve never seen before, wacko post-cyclone currents…..that kinda thing! Don’t get us wrong: we’ve still had some good trips (great guests go a LONG way!) but it’s been, well, hard work. What a complete turnaround this trip was!! We have had the easiest, most gorgeous week with dream dive conditions below and gorgeous, sunny, breezy days on top. THIS is the Fiji we know and love: we are officially back in it to win it! And to top it off, we got to share the week with a wonderful group of guests. We were joined by a gang of 9 friends and family who regularly travel and dive together and then another separate 7: the two groups may have begun as strangers but it didn’t take long for these guys to bond and it soon felt like the whole group had been friends for ages. What a relaxing, fun week…..
Photo Credits (Clockwise from top left): Bernadette, Bernadette, Chris, Yves
We began our adventures in the dive area known as Vuya, with gorgeous morning dives at Cat’s Meow and Humann Nature. This area is renowned for its incredible fish diversity and abundance and today was no exception: our regular Caribbean divers couldn’t believe just how MUCH they were seeing in such a small area! It’s almost overwhelming but in all the right ways. For the afternoon, we shifted NAI’A just slightly over lunch so we could dive UndeNAIAble; both the pinnacle and the main reef. The topography is always really enjoyable in these ones: lots of interesting crevices, swim throughs and twists and turns to explore. After dinner that night, we headed out for our first night dive of the trip and had some cool finds: none more so than the teeniest little squid, no more than 1/5 of an inch. Or was it a cuttlefish? We weren’t sure, so we concluded it must be the rare Squttlefish.
Photo Credits: (Top Left, Bottom) Yves, Bernadette (Center) Jia, Top Right, Bottom) Bernadette, Yves
From Vuya, we journeyed to the east overnight to awaken in paradise: the Namena Marine Reserve. We spent two glorious days here and knocked out some killer dives! Everyone loved the deep wall dives at Schoolhouse and Grand Central Station; especially those who were lucky enough to see hammerhead sharks!! And we had some breathtaking dives on our Tetons pinnacles; just SO much life and colour, with beautiful light pouring in over the top reef. We had several (very experienced) divers declare Namena as being the best diving of their lives! Appreciating a peaceful night at anchor, we took the opportunity to hang out with our amazing crew for another wonderful kava party. This group got right into the spirit of things and embraced the free-flowing kava! The second night we squeezed in our second night dive with several heading out with Big Mo: as always he found ridiculously cool stuff including the most skinny, near on invisible Rumengan’s Pipehorse….in the DARK!! Standard Big Mo.
Photo Credits (Clockwise from upper left): Doug, Yves, Big Mo, Doug Doug, Yves
We were sad to leave Namena behind but soon got over it when we hit Wakaya for the next day’s diving! Conditions were a bit tougher today as a bit of rain passed overhead but the diving was still fantastic. Especially when everyone got treated to manta rays: one even came right up close and cruised by every diver doing a little lap of honor and showing itself off! We also enjoyed some incredible macro life including a juvenile peacock razorfish, several decorated dartfish and a trifecta of white, brown and green leaf scorpionfish! We had planned a village visit for that afternoon but the weather was not very accommodating so we decided to hold off and went for a dusk dive instead. Those who ventured out were lucky enough to see a shark and an octopus: well worth it!
Photo Credits (Clockwise from top left): Yves, Jia, Jia, Jia
Overnight, we traveled further south again, to the lush, green island of Gau. What a day we had! In the morning, we tackled Nigali Passage not once, but twice and it was out of this world! As our divers commented, it just has EVERYTHING going for it: you have all the ‘big stuff’ as you cruise down the passage itself and into the bleachers – the sharks, the barracuda, our dear BFG – but then you turn the corner coming out of the passage and you find yourself surrounded by a pretty, pretty shallow coral reef with popping colours and loads of macro life. There’s really something for everyone, what’s not to love? That afternoon, we enjoyed a lazy dive at Jim’s Alley and Anthias Avenue, calming down from all the excitement of the morning, and then we dried off and headed in to land for a couple of hours. We enjoyed a wonderful visit at Somosomo. It was the school holidays so all the kids were home and the village was bustling with energy. And it only got rowdier once the ‘mekes’ (traditional Fijian dances) got underway! There is no doubting that Chris was the star of the show: not afraid to bust out a free-style move or two, he had the crowd cheering and whooping with laughter! You did us proud buddy and will go down in NAI’A history.
Photo Credits (Clockwise from upper left): Kristen, Jia, Chris, Bernadette, Bernadette
For one last, perfect day of diving we headed right into the heart of the Bligh Waters and one of our favorite dive areas: Vatu I Ra. Here we were treated to great conditions again (albeit it with some kicking current at times!) and enjoyed great dives at Mellow Yellow, Coral Corner and Maytag. The soft corals were looking at their best, the top reef was just pulsating with life and we felt like we were diving in a little piece of heaven. We were all so sad to find ourselves at the end of the trip but what a truly wonderful week it has been! A heartfelt thank you to our guests for joining us, we had a really memorable time with you all and hope to see you again soon.
"Even better the second time!!..." Doug & Kim Peterson
"Vinaka! We had a magical experience! Thank you for such warm and friendly hospitality. It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary." Carol & Russ Welsch
"We had an absolute wonderful time! What a great first live aboard experience..."
BULA! by Jia
Clingons by Doug
Coming Atcha by Jia
Dream Team by Big Mo
In It To Win It by Bernadette
Incy-Wincy by Big Mo
Lap Of Honour by Chris
Octo Display by Jia
Pick Me by Big Mo
Only Big Mo by Big Mo
Village Love by Bernadette
Can You See Me? by Yves
“Joann & I had a remarkable experience here in Tonga! Our diving trips mostly entail liveaboard boats and this one was the best yet – great crew & great food! You are fortunate to have the ownership in place to allow you to do it right! We won’t easily forget our “Whale Week” on NAI’A – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime gig!!”
~ Terry & Joann