Fiji is an unspoiled tropical paradise located roughly 2000 kilometres north east of North Island in New Zealand. This South Pacific country is actually made up of a chain of 332 islands, but only around 100 of these are inhabited. The islands were formed over 150 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity, some of which continues today on the islands of Taveuni and Vanua Levu. Aside from active volcanoes, Fiji offers a multitude of thrilling experiences such as giant zip-lines, parasailing, mountain climbing and rainforest trails.
Fiji’s landscape is rather rugged but undeniably beautiful, with sandy beaches complete with palm trees, blue lagoons and a peaceful island holiday vibe that is sure to relax even the most uptight of travellers.
Since the country is surrounded by the magnificent, crystal clear waters of the South Pacific, water sports play a major part in any visit to Fiji and options include jet ski safaris, surfing, white water rafting, shark diving and scuba diving at some of the best dive sites on earth. Fiji boasts over 4000 square miles of unspoiled coral reef, giving divers the chance to experience marine biodiversity like nowhere else.
Best Diving Destinations in Fiji
Fiji dive sites are particularly well-known for supporting large quantities of colourful soft corals. In fact, several hundred different types of corals and sponges have been recorded. While these are certainly a highlight in their own right, Fiji also boasts many hard coral formations that make for an interesting underwater landscape. Divers looking for an adrenalin-packed experience need to look no further than drift diving experiences in Fiji. There are also steep vertical walls, wrecks, exciting swim-throughs and long, sloping reefs to be explored.
In terms of marine life, divers are unlikely to be disappointed as the waters of Fiji are home to over 1000 fish species both large and small. Highlights include eagle rays, turtles, sharks and massive numbers of colourful and exotic reef fish as well as various nudibranch species.
Many divers choose to start their diving adventure on the largest island of Vitu Levu, and for good reason. Many of Fiji’s most popular dive sites are located just off the shores of Vitu Levu and a major highlight for many is the shark diving opportunities that abound in the area. Departing from Pacific Harbour, divers should be prepared to encounter as many as 8 intimidating shark species on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Underwater photographers are likely to take away fantastic images of white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, bull sharks, black tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks and silvertip sharks.
Near to Beqa Lagoon is a site known as Ceasar’s Rocks which is popular with those divers who enjoy exploring a good tunnel and swim-through. Macro divers can also be entertained thanks to a wide variety of blennies and nudibranchs at this site and a large number of nooks and crannies to explore.
Somosomo Strait is a channel that stretches between the major islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni and thanks to tidal currents in the area is the perfect location to see many of the soft coral species that Fiji is famous for. Rainbow Reef is a wall dive that is not to be missed in this area as it guarantees sightings of large numbers of pelagic fish. Another wall dive to include on your diving itinerary is the Great White Wall, appropriately named due to the beautiful white soft corals that completely cover the wall.
For both hard and soft corals, diver should visit the secluded barrier reef within Namena Marine Park and if you’re looking for manta rays in their masses, Great Astrolable reef off Kadavu is the place to visit. Also nearby Kadavu is a site known as the Crazy Maze which offers around 11 fantastic swim-throughs and great coral formations. Sea turtles and barracuda can also be seen here at Namalata Reef.
Located right in the middle of nutrient-rich waters between Vana Levu and Viti Levu is an oddly-named pinnacle known as E-6. Soft corals and large sea fans thrive on the protected side of the pinnacle whilst major pelagic fish enjoy the strong currents on the other sides. Divers should not miss the Cathedral swim-through on this dive which is exceptionally beautiful.
Getting to Fiji
Despite its remote location, Fiji is a hassle-free destination to travel to. With Nadi International Airport on Vitu Levu serving as the main hub for international flights, visitors can travel direct from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Korea and China. Luckily for many tourists, entering the country is also hassle-free with a visitor visa being granted on arrival.
Fiji also has a number of domestic airports throughout the various islands which divers tend to make use of after landing on Vitu Levu. Many liveaboard companies and resorts are willing to arrange transportation from these local airports to your final diving destination.
When to Visit Fiji
Diving is popular all throughout the year in Fiji and is particularly popular from April to October. Although these are technically the winter months, visibility is at its highest in July and also December and can sometimes extend beyond 50 metres. Needless to say that kind of visibility is an absolute delight, especially for underwater photographers. Water temperatures are still fairly warm and remain in the range of 24-27°C, whilst winds can increase in strength during these months.
Fiji’s rainy season runs from December to March and these are also the summer months which bring with them increased chance of cyclone action. The water temperature will rise to around 30°C in some areas, making a shortie or 3mm wetsuit more than sufficient when diving. Although visibility is slightly reduced from the impeccable visibility of the winter months, this should not deter divers looking to experience a magnificent Fijian summer. Fiji also experiences a few cross-over months where the seasons are transitioning, and many visitors choose these months – April, May and November – to visit.
Where to Stay in Fiji
Shore-based dive resorts, mainstream hotels and villas and liveaboards are all options when planning a visit to Fiji. Accommodation is offered right in the centre of all the diving action in various locations as well as in more secluded areas where a quick boat ride will be required to access the reefs. Day trips and exciting shark dives can also be arranged through dive shops in various locations. If opting for a liveaboard experience, ensure that the itinerary includes a shark-feeding experience in Vitu Levu.