Contributed by Scuba Diver Australasia
& Photographs Michael Aw
Blue Lagoon, Castaway, Savage Islands, Anacondas ... names that evoke impressions
of aquamarine water, waving coconut palms, white sand beaches, secret gardens,
hidden lakes, swift rivers, waterfalls, high mountains and raw adventure. In
reality they are titles of Hollywood movies and they were filmed in Fiji. The
familiar links between all these movies are obvious – Fiji is a remote
outpost, white sand beaches and boats are essential aspects of life. In fact,
the boat "The Bloody Mary" which features in Anacondas has been transformed
into a fully-fitted bar at the Lagoon Resort Hotel in Pacific Harbour!
Cast across the expanse of the South Pacific Ocean, the Fiji archipelago comprises
322 islands surrounded by lush coral reefs, warm azure waters and abundant marine
life. For avid scuba divers, surfers, sky divers and the sun worshippers who
simply wish to day dream beneath coconut palms, Fiji is the destination of dreams
but watch out for those falling coconuts, they are the islands number one killer!
Wonder if Fijian law provides life sentencing for felonious coconut palms?
by the area between the latitudes 15° and 22° South, and the longitude
177° West and 174° East, the island country covers over 700,000 square
kilometres with only 3 percent of that being land. The capital township of Suva
is located on the biggest island of Viti Levu and the second largest is Vanua
Levu in the North. Amid its wealth of natural beauty, Fiji's true magic lies
in its people and the melting pot of diverse cultures, rich mixture of vibrant,
exuberant Melanesians, East Indians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Chinese, and
Caucasians, each with a cuisine and culture of their own. The people are genuinely
warm; smile easily and they are great with children. For those who can’t
leave their kids behind but wish to sneak out for a dive or two during a family
holiday, willing baby sitters are very easy to find.
Throughout the archipelago, the islands are remarkably beautiful, an idyllic
locale for the romantic, honeymooners, families, backpackers, the young and
young at heart alike. While the five-star resorts are furnished for the rich
and famous ala Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson, the backpacker accommodation is
also pretty impressive. One such resort is the Nadi Bay Resort, just 10 mins
from the airport. It offers everything from dormitory class accommodation to
self contained apartment suites. According to my three year old, the swimming
pool there is of dog bone shape, lushly fringed with tropical palms. The water
is warm, the girls are gorgeous, and life's good.
For the fearless diver, Fiji has a few adrenaline fixes to die for. At 7.45am
Christa Pickering a travel consultant by profession was already on her way to
the biggest dive of her career. I was curious of her impending adventure; I
went along for the ride. At 8.15am, she free fell from the sky at 10,000 metres
and landed on the fine volcanic sand beach. Just 30 minutes later I was laughing
my fins off when I was shooting her being attacked by a heinous Yellow damselfish
at 30 metres below the surface.
that is not a sufficient fix, I suggest hiring a car, push the limit for a 90
minute drive to meet with Rusi, Mini or Manasa at Beqa Adventure Diver. They
are the official shark feeders and predictably they can beckon up to 8 species
of sharks in one dive. Among the big boys is the Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
and it is not uncommon to find up to 50 full grown sharks turning up for this
unique adventure. Considered to be the most dangerous shark in the world, even
surpassing the Great White shark, Bull sharks have a bad reputation. Possessing
broad, serrated triangular teeth and very powerful jaws, bull sharks are known
to eat almost anything. Position yourself next to one of the feeders and wait
for one of these broad shouldered sharks to appear right up close and personal.
Seeing one of these fearsome but magnificent animals opening their jaws for
a fish barely a foot away is like the opening scene from 'JAWS' in real time,
a surrealistic heart pumping experience that will be forever embedded in your
mind. And if you are really lucky, Tiger sharks are also known to turn up to
feed. I was incredibly lucky; of four day outings to Shark Reef, the Tiger sharks
turned up for three. However that is a story for the future, and I am already
planning to return for another incredible Fiji experience.
How to get to Fiji
Nadi, the gateway to Fiji diving is located 2 hours flight north of Auckland,
3 hours from Sydney, 9 hours away from Los Angeles and as a crow flies, about
9 hours away from Singapore. Direct flights from Sydney, Los Angeles, Tokyo
and Seoul, otherwise connect Air New Zealand from Auckland.
For Sky Dive Advernture: www.AquaBlueFiji.com
For the best Sharkdive: www.fiji-sharks.com;
**the author wishes to thanks Uri & Naomi Simpson, Christa Pickering, Cassie
and Tony of SKYDIVE Fiji, Mike Neumann, James Beasley, Rusi, Mini, Manasa, David
and Eliki for their assistance for making this feature possible.
This article was originally published in Scubadiver Australasia