Thinking of Fiji you would expect a tropical paradise, but I was greeted by a merciless downpour in the capital Suva. Not many opportunities to spend the last day on-shore before boarding the “Island Dancer II” except reading and sleeping. This live aboard was my home for the coming week, a 30m yacht for eight divers and five crew members (captain, engineer, dive guide, cook, steward).
The standard day schedule:
0630 Early breakfast (mainly fresh fruits, cereals and toasts)0730 First dive
1030 Second dive
1330 Third dive
1600 Fourth dive
1930 Night diveBasically eating, sleeping and diving, and not much else.
The dive sites weren´t as spectacular as expected. Below 20m neither fish life nor corals were abundant. Only the shallower parts of the pinnacles – underwater mountains that rise from the sandy grounds almost to the surface – were covered with various colored soft corals, sea fans and feather stars and crowded by thousands of small purple and orange anthias´.
Another remarkable dive was the baited shark dive. Fish heads – leftovers from the cooking – were used to attract up to 20 grey reef sharks. Besides the sharks, also a giant grouper and dozens of smaller snappers joined the feeding frenzy. One of the dive buddies got his hand to close to the fish heads and the giant grouper (ca 1.5-2m, around 50kg) mistakenly thought that the hand might also be part of the bait. Some bite marks on the hand and a trickle of green blood (colors are perceived differently in the depth, and red is one of the first color that vanishes), but nothing to really worry about.
But my favorite shark encounter during that week was during a normal wall dive. Gliding along with the current at a sheer wall a curious hammerhead shark wanted to check out what kind of strange fish I was. Unfortunately he didn´t like my two flashes and after the first shot he left as fast as he showed up.
As five dives per day over a longer time are hardly healthy we stopped one afternoon on a local village on the island of Gau. Somasoma inhabits 114 persons, the only connection to other villages is by boat, electricity comes from solar panel and the main activities are fishing, farming and weaving. Part of such a visit is the traditional Kava drinking ceremony. Prepared with dried pepper roots, the drink looks at best like brown muddy water and tastes slightly bitter. It is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax. Side effects are numb tongue and cheeks. Not bad a drink, but I preferred the complementary beer on the boat.
In summary, I liked the trip, but I wouldn´t come all the way from Europe or America just to spend a week or two to dive here. There are better and closer destinations than Fiji.
After the cruise I spent another two days in a basic beach camp to relax after the though schedules on the boat.
Next destination: Vanuatu
Previous destination: New Zealand