Fiji. So many of the places we lead trips to are not really known to those who don’t partake in diving. Not Fiji. The word rolls off your tongue and you can feel yourself relax as you say it. To most it brings up a mental slideshow of bucolic tropical scenes tinged with the tongue numbing sensation of a coconut shell of kava. I don’t need to tell you that the islands are beautiful, the Fijians are some of the most friendly and proud people we’ve ever met and the kava is awesome – you already know that. You want underwater photos…
We spent the first three days diving with Bull Sharks (and lemons, nurse, silver tip, grey reef, white-tip and black tip reef sharks as well) with AquaTrek and Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD). You cannot explain this experience to anyone who hasn’t done it, so I’m just going to show you photos instead. These images were all taken with the Nikon D810 in a Nauticam housing with the 16-35mm lens with a 9” Zen dome port and Sea & Sea D2 strobes.
Despite wanting to continue shark diving until Kerri and Maurine file missing persons reports on Burt & I because we didn’t come home, we had to pull oursleves away from Pacific Harbor and board the Nai’a for some back-to-back-trips (sigh).
The Nai’a reputation is well deserved and maintained every day by the amazing crew. The Nai’a is more than just a boat – it is an experience, like Pindito and Bilikiki. They offer more than just comfortable accommodation, good food and a great dive program. They’ve been doing it so well for so long they have become part of the quintessential experience themselves. I will truly miss listening to Moe play guitar every night punctuating songs with three loud hollow claps and the announcement of “Kava time!”.
OK, back to the diving. Fiji was hit by a terrible storm on February 23rd of this year. Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 storm , the strongest landfalling storm on record to hit Fiji. In addition to wreaking havoc on the islands themselves and destroying the lives of many Fijians, the storm also impacted the diving. Having been operating in Fiji since 1993, the Nai’a had a pretty good repertoire of dive sites. Since the storm damaged some of their A-list sites we dived some of the lesser visited sites as well. Some were good, some not so much. The damage we could see was mostly in the form of large table corals overturned and shallower hard coral gardens looking a bit extra-rubbly. That’s not to say that Fiji has been decimated as a dive destination by ay means. We still had some phenomenal dives and Fiji is still one of the best places for soft coral reefs pumping with anthias and beautiful blue water.
There are two sets of images here, the first set are from the first trip and were taken with the Nikon D810. For the second trip we were provided with a Nikon D500 in the new Nauticam Housing. D810 images are taken with Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes using the Kinon 16-35mm F4 and the Sigma 15mm. The D500 was equipped with the Tokina 10-17mm and Inon Z240 strobes.
After the second trip we got to spend a few more days with the sharks. At this point, a lot of the sharks had already headed off, most of them moving up the rivers to give birth. The water also started to turn a lesser pleasing shade of blue. Still some awesome encounters though…