What to Expect When Scuba Diving in Fiji & Exploring Coral Reefs
Coral Reefs represent one of the world’s most spectacular beauty spots.
The mention of coral reefs generally brings to mind warm climates, colorful fishes and clear waters. However, the reef itself is actually a component of a larger ecosystem.
They are the foundation of marine ecosystem, housing tens of thousands of marine species. Many experienced scuba divers come to Paradise Taveuni just to witness the excellent soft coral blooms.
Fiji Dive Resort
The nutrient rich waters promise plenty of pelagic fish species when diving in Taveuni.
For this reason, coral reefs are often referred to as the”rainforests of the oceans.” They are important fishery and nursery areas, and more recently have proved to be very important economically as tourist attractions.
Taveuni’s nickname “Garden Island” applies not only to the landscape, but also to the underwater coral gardens. Taveuni is ”The Soft Coral Capital of the World” and Paradise is in the heart of it – here you will experience some of the best diving in Fiji, if not the world.
Paradise Taveuni is the only resort on the island offering diving on pristine ‘Vuna Reef’ as well as the world renowned ‘Rainbow Reef’. With over forty dive sites to offer, you won’t visit the same site twice, unless you want to.
Many divers come to Taveuni just to witness the excellent soft coral blooms that occur when the current is running just right. The coastline around Paradise Taveuni has several dive sites on offer, many at Vuna Reef are sheltered from the prevailing island winds. After only a ten minute scenic boat ride from the resort, you will arrive at one of the best sites in the region, Coral Gardens.
Paradise Reef is the house reef of Paradise Taveuni, which is easily accessible by a giant stride entry, from the marina’s jetty and can be dived on any tide and at any time of the day. Paradise is also home to “The Great White Wall”.
Divers from all over the world choose ParadiseTaveuni to experience the extraordinary formations of hard and soft corals and an abundance of fish life including Blue Ribbon Eels, Leafy Scorpion Fish, Reef Sharks, Rays, Turtles and even our own resident Cuttlefish.
Paradise now offers the Enriched Air Diver Specialty Courseand it’s easy to see why Nitrox is so incredibly popular – longer decompression time means more underwater time, especially on repetitive scuba dives. You can typically stay down longer and get back into the water sooner. No wonder we are seeing many Paradise divers enjoying the benefits of Nitrox diving.
Look Our Scuba Divers! You are in for an underwater extravaganza!
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Starfish, sea lilies, feather stars, sea urchins and other colourfully named creatures belong to the group known as echinoderms (meaning spiny skinned).
Starfish or sea stars are star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea.
Taveuni is a popular destination for Tourists and travelers world over.
Allow yourself to discover not only the beautiful and perfectly distributed features on dry land but look beyond the surface and see what Mother nature has to offer you. Here in Paradise so many things will leave a beautiful smile on your face even if not by a touch but just by glancing at it and one of them is the starfish.
Stunning Starfish are some of the most beautiful things that you can find when you experience snorkeling or scuba diving in Paradise. They come in various colours and appearance but you will love all that you come across.
You can discover many the beautiful sea creatures when you next stay in Paradise.
Sara and James, our Dive Masters in training (DMTs) are now halfway through their stay and well in to the courses. They are currently completing the mapping exercise and have recorded the house reef in detail. But this isn’t the first time they’ve documented the undersea world. Just a couple months the were working at a marine research base on the island of Cagalai helping to accumulate baseline data on the condition of the reef.
Two years ago, large storms disturbed much of the reef around Cagalai. The research Sara and James assisted with looked at the density of fish, invertebrates, soft and hard corals and more. The information gathered will help to map out the reef around Cagalai. They will then present the data back to the villages on the island to allow them to decide where to have their marine protected areas (MPAs), or tabu areas where no fishing will be allowed to let the reef recover. Sara said that their were patches of reef that were still really good and she could see where the reef was bouncing back. She is hoping to return to Cagalai after her DMT course at Paradise to continue the research. She says she was doing about two dives a day, five days a week for three months and did around 100 dives while there. So you can understand why she would want to go back.
James worked underwater on the research team but also spent a lot of time in the local schools teaching about marine ecology and rubbish. He started with grades 1-4, mostly 6-7 year olds, which was a bit difficult due to the language barrier as they were just then learning English. But, he said he had more success with grades 5-8, those aged 10-11, who seemed to get it. The main focus of his teaching was understanding what was living, what was part of the natural environment, and what wasn’t – basically, why we want to keep the rubbish out of the ocean. Community meetings were also occurring within the villages and the whole effort was leading to the opening of a recycling center with songs and entertainment provided by the school kids to celebrate.
In addition, there were beach clean-ups, underwater clean-ups that collected a lot of fishing line. Sara says her favorite were the opistobranch surveys to look for nudibranchs. Often, she would find a whole family of nudibranchs together and find 6-8 different types on one survey. Both are great divers and are sure to become Dive Masters with ease. Paradise is pleased to host two divers who have done some great work for Fiji.
The new boat has arrived. The 45-foot Taveuni Explorer has returned from Nadi where it was dry-docked and fully refurbished. It is returning home. The boat was originally laser cut in Australia and assembled in Taveuni 21 years ago by Spencer Tarte who’s family has lived in southern Taveuni since the late 1800s. It has gone as far as Tonga and back and to many islands in between. The Taveuni Explorer boasts seating for 26 divers with double tanks, 18 on its upper deck, a freshwater shower, kitchenette, and twin Iveco 333 horsepower in-board diesel engines.
So what do we have planned with our new vessel you ask? Well let’s see. How about an overnight ﬁshing trip to Koro island, through the Koro sea’s chain of basaltic cinder cones which support abundant ﬁsh life. Island hopping to Kioa, Rabi, and Ringold island to look for manta rays. Circumnavigating Taveuni to see all the waterfalls on the windward eastern side that are only accessible by sea. Whale watching in August when the Humpbacks arrive. Or, sunset cruises with sparkling wine and nibbles. But, we are perhaps most excited about overnight dive expeditions to Namena marine reserve. The Taveuni Explorer has bunks for two couples and crew for ﬁve dives on one Taveuni’s most pristine reefs. We’re so excited we don’t know where to start.
With Cyclone Pam around Vanuatu kicking up a fuss, giving us wind and rain from the north, we decided to look for some new shore dives on the south side of the island. Vuna village has always welcomed us to come visit so we decided to ask the chief if we could dive Vuna reef from their backyard. We were given the okay and shown to a small rocky cove. With no idea what they would find dive instructor Antoni led three of our more experienced guests, Matt, Laura and Sally, over the rock and coral bottom at high tide and out to the ledge. Schools had been canceled because of the weather and a large group of children looked down from the rocky outcrop. It was the first time they’d seen scuba divers in their village. Some had taken tentative sips of air from our regulators to see how the scuba gear worked. The men of the village regularly collect shellfish and go spearfishing here, free diving to great depths including the young high chief himself who commands just over half the island’s landmass. But as yet the intrepid four would be the first scuba divers to explore the site at length.
I stood on the beach tracking their bubbles through my binoculars, occasionally letting the kids have a look, phone ready in case any problems should occur. The kids lost interest and wandered off and it was just me and a couple others sitting there when the divers resurfaced 50 minutes after their descent. They swam through the small surf back to the beach and we got their gear off. “Amazing,” they said. “Lots of ghost coral everywhere, some really big ones, bigger than we’ve seen anywhere else. The hard corals were probably the best on Vuna reef with plenty of large plates and branching staghorn.” The dive site in the protected southern bay is sheltered from the storm surges that would have hammered much of the reef during previous cyclones. Then, after the second dive, they came back reporting seeing several eagle rays, one especially large and old. It was a good dive site, maybe even great. The villagers said in June and July the surf would be pumping and a hundred kids on school holidays would be surfing on any piece of plywood they could find, vying for the few surfboards available. But for now we had found a great site to get us through the cyclone season until the surf arrived. And we had claimed a moment in history: the first descent at the reef off Vuna village. Special thanks must be given to the chief for giving us the opportunity. We promise to take good care of the site.