Otherwise known as the "Soft Coral Capital of the World", Fiji offers some of the globe's best scuba diving. Spectacular coral reefs, caves and grottoes, and an abundance of marine life including large oceanic species such as sharks and tuna, all make for a memorable diving experience.
For the underwater explorer, the crystal-clear waters of Fiji's virgin reefs and magnificent lagoons have unmatched visibility.
Here are just some of the ways you can enjoy this underwater paradise.
BOUTIQUE CRUISE DIVING
A small cruise ship boasts the best of both worlds, accessing the most remote and pristine areas of the Fiji Islands and exploring some of the world's top dive sites, while also enjoying the creature comforts you would expect from a luxury mega-liner. Enjoy the convenience and diversity of a new dive site to explore every day, with Blue Lagoon Cruises. Unpack just once and relax into an easy rhythm on board. While it boasts many of the attributes of its mega-liner rivals, this cruise line specialises in island hopping, which is possible only in smaller ships, such as the MV Fiji Princess.
Made up of more than 300 islands, 6400 square kilometres of reef and 1500 species of sea life, there are plenty of reasons to volunteer on marine research and conservation programmes in Fiji. Volunteer diving activities with Vinaka Fiji include:
• Manta Ray Research - observation, identification, behavioural studies and habitat analysis through daily swimming and snorkelling with these magnificent creatures.
• Reef Check Fiji - insight into the health of a particular reef through diving and snorkelling observation, photographing and recording data.
• Crown of Thorn Seastar Watch - monitoring and management of predators to coral reefs.
• Coral and Clam Nursery - part of a nationwide program to re-introduce and disperse clams, including the giant clam Tridacna gigas.
• Marine Biodiversity Database Fiji - tracking existing and new species.
• Habitat mapping - in-depth information into the layout and composition of the reef.
FIRST TIME DIVING
Fiji's shallow reefs offer an easy, low-impact introduction to scuba diving. Many of the islands offer a gradual descent from the shore into shallow, clear water and thriving reefs. An Open Water Diver qualification opens up the possibility of diving in amazing places all around the world.
Already certified? There are courses for underwater navigation, night diving and deep diving, as well as drift diving, digital photography and boat diving. This can be particularly beneficial for those planning on diving wreck sites, which often lie in deeper water.
UP CLOSE WITH MANTA RAYS
Barefoot Island is the closest island to the famous manta ray feeding channel, directly off Barefoot's most northern beach. Between May and October the warm tropical waters running between Drawaqa Island and Naviti Island create a nutrient rich channel ideally suited for their favourite food - plankton. Staff offer guided manta ray snorkels, which allow travellers to swim alongside these majestic creatures.
ADRENALIN DIVING WITH SHARKS
For the ultimate adrenalin rush, witness up-close encounters with sharks, including school feeding. Shark dives cater to all levels of adrenalin seekers, from a calm observatory experience, to the heart-pumping thrill of getting up close with bulls and tigers.
Discover a whole new coral reef community, which emerges at night. Nocturnal marine creatures such as octopus, squid, lobsters, shrimp and eels can often be spotted lurking among coral gardens. The colours of the coral also appear more colourful with an artificial light source guiding your way. The coral polyps emerge from their hard exteriors to feed on plankton at night, dancing in the current. A lucky few night divers may witness coral spawning, which occurs once a year around the full moon.
Fiji Airways flies from Auckland to Nadi with return Economy Class fares starting from $630.