Ahhhhhh, we just LOVE May! Like, really, really LOVE it. We remember this time last year being glorious and we wondered if it was a one off. Nope! This year has been exactly the same. The month of May in Fiji is beyond magical: cooler waters brings beautiful clear waters, the sun is shining bright, winds are refreshingly breezy…. Heaven! Add to that a wonderful group of people and you’ve got a pretty special ten-day charter. We were delighted to welcome back many old guests as well as several new friends. Everyone soon bonded and enjoyed their time at sea together!
Our adventuring began in the stunning area of Vuya. It was a bit of a trial by fire for day one: strong winds and big waves made for some very challenging conditions…. But we were impressed by how hardy and resilient everyone was, go team! And, boy, was it worth it. UNDERwater was just perfect. Cat’s Meow was at its finest: the soft corals in the swim through were so plumped up and lush we could barely fit through ourselves! With the big waves slowing everything down, our last day dive didn’t depart till 16.30. What a fortunate accident! It turned into more of a dusk dive and was so darned fishy! It’s such an interesting time of day underwater, feels like a real ‘changing of the guards’ down there; there’s a tangible energy as the nocturnal predators get themselves ready for action. This one turned out to be the last dive of the day as the winds picked up to the point we declared a night dive unsafe. Despite the challenges, we’re pretty sure a good first day was had by all!
Photo Credits (Clockwise from top left): Heather, Ernie, Ernie, Ernie
Overnight, we shifted just an hour or so, to enjoy a great day of diving at Vatu I Ra. The dive sites here never fail to impress. They’re an incredible combination of big stuff (sharks and barracuda a-plenty at Coral Corner), small stuff (gorgeous white leaf scorpion at Maytag) and pretty-pretty soft corals (Mellow Yellow, need we say more?!). Our real surprise though on recent trips has been Go Mo. We didn’t dive it for many years (no one is quite sure why!!) and only started again two or three weeks ago. WOW! It’s covered in anemones and both Dendronepthya and Chironepytha soft coral, and is just smothered in anthias and fusiliers! Could be a new favourite…..
Departing Vatu I Ra, we traveled all night to wake up in Namena, a marine park to the south of Savu Savu on Vanua Levu. We spent two days here and enjoyed some wonderful dives. Particularly once the wind died down and sun came out! We reckon Momma Ocean rewarded our divers for their resilience on Day 1: she gifted them a beautiful hammerhead shark on Grand Central Station, a ribbon eel on Tetons 3 and an octopus showing off on Tetons 1! Fair reward, we say. Oh, and not to forget The Arch! It was KICKING OFF with schooling jacks, multiple grey reef and white tip sharks, big barracuda and enormous dogtooth tuna prowling around. On our first night at Namena, we took advantage of a night at anchor to enjoy our Kava Party with the crew. Chad particularly enjoyed this one as he acted as MC in the Animal Song and Goat-Off: ohhhhh, the power!
Photo Credits (All Photos): Steve
We continued our journey south after an amazing couple of days: next stop, Wakaya! The weather continued to get better and better and we were now treated to glassy seas and blazing sun. Thank You! And what a day we had. We enjoyed three day dives at Lion’s Den, Blue Ridge and Vatu Vai. Turned out to a ray kind of a day: our divers saw not only manta rays but also spotted eagle rays. Big stuff: tick! We had our fair share of macro too at Wakaya, completing the Leaf Scorpion Trifecta Challenge with ease (one yellow, one brown, one white). Later that afternoon, we headed out for our dusk dive which turned out to be pretty awesome as quiet phases were interjected with periods of great activity, including super inquisitive barracuda checking us out and hunting sharks whizzing by!
Photo Credits (Clockwise from upper left): Steve, Steve, Ernie, Heather
Leaving Wakaya, we headed to the island of Gau which would mark our most southerly point on the charter. What an incredible couple of days! On Day 1, we enjoyed gorgeous ‘warm-up’ dives on Jim’s Alley and Anthias Avenue: the current was quite challenging but the visibility was great and the soft corals were insane. And then, that afternoon, the main event: Nigali Passage! We had one of the best dives we’ve ever had there! We caught it right at the peak of the incoming current so the viz was awesome, the shark action was impressive and we even got a manta ray and an eagle ray. We all came back absolutely buzzing and, after such a hyped-up day, were quite happy to take the afternoon off to go in to land and visit the village of Somo Somo. We had a peaceful couple of hours, wandering around the village, meeting the school kids as they came back from boarding school for the weekend and enjoying a singing and dancing cultural show in the village hall. The next day, we packed in 4 more great dives. In the morning, we tackled Jungle Jig and Nigali Outside Slope, where we were happy to me greeted by two turtles and a huge banded sea snake. And in the afternoon, we managed to squeeze two more dives in at the Passage. They were just as incredible as the day before and we think all our guests will be leaving with fond memories of Gau!
Photo Credits (Clockwise from upper left): Beth, Beth, Ernie, Beth, Beth
Next up, we moved north, right back in to the heart of the Bligh Waters where we had started our trip a week previously. We spent the morning indulging in two epic sea mount dives: Mount Mutiny and E6. These incredible mounts drop dramatically from practically the surface down to thousands of feet. It’s a wonderful sensation to hover over the edge and stare down into the abyss. What’s down there?? A few beautiful creatures came to say hello: another pair of spotted eagle rays (what a lucky ray run we had!) as well as big schools of barracuda and jacks. Oh, and we were lucky enough to meet the cutest two baby white tip reef sharks, hiding out under a ledge waiting to grow bigger and stronger! For the afternoon dives, we headed back to Vatu I Ra and had a wonderful time at Charlie’s Garden and Maytag. Absolutely highlight of the day (though sadly only enjoyed by a couple!) was an actual SHARKNADO at 75’ on Maytag! Vanessa had never seen anything like it: 20-30 grey reef sharks swimming in a full-on tornado formation. Really unusual, intriguing behavior! To finish up a fabulous day, several of our divers headed out for a dusk dive on Mellow Yellow and came back most content.
Photo Credits (Clockwise from upper left): Heather, Bill G, Lisa, Lisa, Heather
Our last day of the charter was spent at Nananu I Ra, where we enjoyed three great dives at Labyrinth, Golden Sunset and Pinnacles. As always, the cool topography of these dive sites was a winner – it’s so fun to wind in and out of all the swim throughs – but what really made it for everyone was the spectacular coral coverage, especially the hard-coral gardens in the shallows. Layer upon layer of table corals and staghorns with not an inch left uncovered! Really, really great to see.
And so, our trip together came to an end! We had a wonderful time with you all. From all the NAI’A crew, thank you for being such a pleasure to have onboard. We hope to see you again before long!
"Thanks so much to one & all of the best crew & boat in the world! Loved our second visit as much or more than the first." Lisa & Steve
"10 days with NAI'A was one of the best diving adventures we have ever experienced. Fiji has so much to offer both on land and in the seas." Cissy & Lary
"So lucky, so thankful to have been on board NAI'A - everything was top notch." Caryl & Steve
Black And Gold by Heather
Blue For You by Lisa
Camo by Steve
Double Eagle by Bill G
Just Chillin' by Ernie
Kava With The Crew by Beth
Mothers At Sea by Beth
Octopus...What Octopus? by Ernie
Pipe Dream by Lisa
Someone's Home by Steve
Starry Starry Night by Heather
Twin Stripes by Steve
“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