Fiji has plenty to offer the adventurous and active.
It's not for nothing that Fiji has a global reputation for divine diving: some of the country's most spectacular scenery lies just below the surface. Fiji's waters are warm, clear and absolutely teeming with life. All the things that divers' dreams are made of can be found here, from multicoloured fish, stealthy sharks, magnificent macros (miniature marine life), canyon-like terrain and vertigo-inducing walls festooned with exquisite soft and hard corals resembling flower gardens in full bloom.
- Best for Beginner Divers
Fiji is a perfect spot for new divers, as the warm water in the shallow lagoons is a forgiving training environment. Just about anyone in good health, including children aged eight years and over, can learn to dive.
Breath Taker (Nananu-i-Ra, Viti Levu) Great pelagic action on an incoming tide.
Gotham City (Mamanuca Group) Reef species galore.
Yellow Wall (Kadavu) An atmospheric site resembling a fairy-tale castle.
Lekima’s Ledge (Yasawa Group) A coral-studded underwater cliff.
- Best for Experienced Divers
Great White Wall (Taveuni) Possibly the best soft-coral dive in Fiji.
Beqa Lagoon (Viti Levu) Bull and tiger sharks galore – a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Nasonisoni Passage (Vanua Levu) Exhilarating drift dive through a narrow passage.
E6 (Lomaiviti Group) A phenomenal seamount that brushes the ocean’s surface.
Although Fiji is diveable year-round, the best season is from April to October. November to March tends to see the most rainfall, which can obscure visibility off the main islands with river run-off.
Keep in mind that many dives are subject to currents, which can vary from barely perceptible to powerful. Visibility varies too, from a low of 10m at certain sites up to 40m at others. Water temperatures range from 23°C in August to 29°C in January. You probably won’t need anything more than a thin neoprene or a 3mm wetsuit to remain comfortable while diving.
A few kilometres off the Viti Levu coast near Pacific Harbour lies Shark Reef. In other parts of the world, shark-feeding usually involves grey reef sharks and, if you’re lucky, lemon sharks and nurse sharks. Here, up to eight different types of shark turn up: tawny nurse sharks, white-tip, black-tip and grey reef sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, silvertips, massive bull sharks (except from October to January, when they leave the spot to mate) and the heavyweight of them all – tiger sharks!
During the dives, divers form a line behind a purpose-built small coral wall. The feeder dips into a huge bin and pulls out hunks of dead fish. For several minutes, it may be hard to work out what is happening in the swirl of tails and fins as one shark after another materialises, ripping and tearing at the bait. It’s definitely intense, but there’s no frenzy to speak of. The sharks approach in surprisingly orderly fashion, even the ponderous-looking bull sharks. If the arena suddenly clears, brace yourself: a 4m-long tiger shark is about to appear.
While it’s certainly thrilling, this is more a show than a dive, and fish-feeding is a controversial subject. On one hand, these artificial encounters undeniably disrupt natural behaviour patterns: sharks may grow dependent on ‘free lunches’ and can unlearn vital survival skills. On the other hand, some experts believe these displays have educational virtue, raising awareness among divers and helping sharks gain some much-needed positive press. We’ll let you decide.
Top Dive Sites
Fiji is often dubbed the ‘soft-corals capital of the world’, but there's more to its reputation for fantastic diving than that. You will also find majestic reefs ablaze with Technicolor critters, spectacular underwater topography, shark dives and thrilling drift dives. Fiji’s only weak point is the dearth of impressive wrecks.
The best diving is found off Nananu-i-Ra island to the north, although Viti Levu’s most noteworthy dive site is undoubtedly Shark Reef in Beqa Lagoon, where divers can witness a phenomenal shark-feeding session.
Beqa Lagoon (Pacific Harbour) Go nose-to-nose with massive bull and tiger sharks. Divers should also check out Caesar’s Rocks, Side Streets and ET, which features a vast tunnel more than 30m long, densely blanketed with sea fans and soft corals.
Rakiraki reefs and Nananu-i-Ra This area has a good balance of scenic seascapes and elaborate reef structures, with easy access to the Bligh Passage. Dream Maker and Breath Taker are famous for their dense concentrations of colourful tropicals and good-quality corals. To the northwest, off Charybdis Reef, Spud Dome is renowned for its dramatic scenery while Heartbreak Ridge offers a chance of spotting pelagics.
Due in part to its proximity to Nadi and Lautoka on Viti Levu, the Mamanucas are very popular with divers. Trips depart the mainland daily or you can base yourself at any of the island resorts; diving infrastructure is well established throughout the region. Most dive sites are scattered along the Malolo Barrier Reef or off the nearby islets. Diving is probably less spectacular than in the more remote areas of Fiji, but it’s still rewarding, with diverse marine life, good visibility and a varied topography, as well as a glut of easy sites that will appeal to novice divers.
Plantation Pinnacles Near Malololailai, this site is notable for its three deep-water rock towers.
Sherwood Forest Near Tokoriki; home to beautiful gorgonian sea fans.
Gotham City (Malolo Barrier Reef) Located inside the barrier-reef lagoon, the site comprises several coral heads surrounded by a smorgasbord of reef fish in less than 20m.
Salamanda The wreck of a 36m vessel sunk as an artificial reef near Treasure Island rests upright on a rubble seafloor at around 20m; it's partly encrusted with soft corals and anemones.
The Yasawas are less crowded, with fewer dive boats and day trips. This chain of ancient volcanic islands offers excellent corals, pristine reefs and good visibility.
Lekima’s Ledge A stunning underwater cliff off Vawa island, suitable for novice divers.
Maze Fun swim-throughs and tunnels off Nacula Island.
Passage between Nanuya Balavu and Drawaqa Frequented by giant manta rays. Although the use of scuba equipment is prohibited, this is an amazing snorkelling experience.
Lomaiviti Group & Bligh Water
Central Fiji roughly covers the area between the country’s two main landmasses – it extends from Bligh Passage in the west to Namenalala and the Lomaiviti Group in the east. Most sites in this ‘golden triangle’ can only be accessed by live-aboards and so remain largely untouched.
E6 (Vatu-i-Ra Channel) E6 is consistently rated as one of the best sites in Fiji. This seamount rises from 1000m to the surface and acts as a magnet for pelagics. A huge swim-through in the seamount, called the Cathedral, has a magical atmosphere.
Nigali Passage Also known as Shark Alley, this narrow channel off Gau island is home to an almost ever-present squadron of grey sharks as well as schooling trevally, barracuda, snapper and the occasional ray.
Chimneys At Namenalala Reef, off the southeastern coast of Vanua Levu; has several towering coral pillars, all coated with soft corals, sea fans and crinoids.
Blue Ridge (off Wakaya island) Notable for its abundance of bright-blue ribbon eels.
Arguably the best diving in Fiji – and certainly the best around Vanua Levu – is found at Namena Marine Park, a 70 sq km reserve with mindblowing corals and underwater life; it's about two hours from Savusavu. Closer to land, the island's top sites are in and around Savusavu Bay. The underwater scenery is striking, the walls are precipitous and the fish population (which includes pelagics) is diverse.
Nasonisoni Passage (Namena Marine Park) A rip-roaring drift dive in a narrow, current-swept channel. During tidal exchange, divers are sucked into the passage and propelled through the funnel by the forceful current.
Dreamhouse (Namena Marine Park) A small seamount that seems to attract a wealth of pelagics, including grey reef sharks, jacks and tuna.
The Somosomo Strait, a narrow stretch of ocean that is funnelled between Taveuni and Vanua Levu, has achieved cult status in the diving community, and for good reason: it houses some of the most spectacular soft-coral dive sites in the world. The only downside is that average visibility does not exceed 15m to 20m, and when the plankton blooms (January and February), it is further reduced.
Rainbow Reef Strong tidal currents push the deep water back and forth through the passage, providing nutrients for the soft corals and sea fans that form a vivid tapestry.
Purple Wall An impressive wall with a dense layer of purple soft-coral trees, whip corals and sea fans. Numerous overhangs and arches harbour soldierfish and squirrelfish.
Great White Wall This is one of Fiji’s signature drift dives, with a phenomenal concentration of white soft coral resembling a snow-covered ski slope when the current is running.
Annie’s Bommies An explosion of colour, with several big boulders liberally draped with soft corals and surrounded by swirling basslets.
There are also superb dive sites around neighbouring Matagi, Qamea and Laucala islands and at Motualevu Atoll, some 30km east of Taveuni.
Kadavu’s main claim to fame is the Great Astrolabe Reef, the world's fourth-largest barrier reef. Hugging the south and east coasts of the island for about 100km, it’s home to a vibrant assemblage of hard- and soft-coral formations and breathtaking walls. Unlike Taveuni, currents are probably easier to handle in this area, but be prepared for rough seas and reduced visibility when it’s raining or when the winds blow, especially from November to April.
Western side of the Great Astrolabe Recommended dive sites include Broken Stone, Split Rock and Vouwa. They more or less share the same characteristics, with scenic underwater seascapes of twisting canyons, tunnels, caverns and arches.
Naiqoro Passage Just off the east coast of Kadavu, this narrow channel is frequently swept by strong tidal currents and offers rewarding drift dives along steep walls.
Northwestern side of Kadavu This area is a bit overshadowed by the Great Astrolabe Reef, but novice divers will feel comfortable here. Mellow Reef, Yellow Wall and Pacific Voyager, a 63m-long tanker that was intentionally sunk in 30m of water in 1994, are the best dives.
A handful of live-aboards ply the Fiji waters, usually with weeklong itineraries. These trips are recommended for those looking to experience uncrowded dive sites beyond the reach of land-based dive operations, especially the sites in Bligh Passage and off the Lomaiviti Group. Some also stop off at extremely remote islands, giving you a rare chance to explore very traditional villages. Give any of these operators a go:
The Fiji islands are ecologically vulnerable. By following these guidelines while diving, you can help preserve the ecology and beauty of the reefs:
Encourage dive operators to establish permanent moorings at appropriate dive sites.
Practise and maintain proper buoyancy control.
Avoid touching living marine organisms with your body and equipment.
Take great care in underwater caves, as your air bubbles can damage fragile organisms.
Minimise your disturbance of marine animals.
Never stand on corals, even if they look solid and robust.
Diving & Flying
Most divers get to Fiji by plane. While it’s fine to dive soon after flying, it’s important to remember that your last dive should be completed at least 12 hours (though many experts advise 24 hours) before your flight, to minimise the risk of residual nitrogen in the blood causing decompression. Careful attention to flight times, as compared with diving times, is necessary in Fiji because so much of the interisland transport is by air.
There are at least 30 professional dive centres in Fiji. All of them are affiliated with one or more internationally recognised certifying agencies, usually PADI or Scuba Schools International (SSI). In general, you can expect well-maintained equipment, good facilities and knowledgeable staff, but standards may vary from one centre to another. Dive centres are open year-round, most of them every day, and offer a whole range of services, such as introductory dives, night dives, exploratory dives and certification programs. Many are attached to a resort and typically offer two-tank dive trips.
The country has only one recompression chamber, in Suva.
Diving in Fiji is rather good value, especially if you compare it to other South Pacific destinations. If you plan to do many dives on one island, multidive packages are usually much cheaper. Some sample prices:
- Introductory dive: about $200
- Two-tank dive: between $230 and $350, including equipment rental
- Open-water certification course: between $800 and $975