Tag Archives: diving

Rainbow Reef Dive

Diving Rainbow Reef and the Great White Wall has been a dream of mine for a few years.  We had tried to dive here last season, but Matt injured his ear and then we tore our main sail and couldn’t get to the site.  So, this trip back to Fiji was focused on diving this spectacular area.  We arrive in Viani Bay which is our launch point for the dive sites on Rainbow Reef.

Rainbow Reef is legendary and has well over 20 pristine dive sites.  It has been called the “soft coral capital of the world” but I might beg to differ when comparing it to Bonaire.  Some of the most popular dive sites include The Great White Wall, The Fish Factory, The Zoo, and Cabbage Patch to name a few.

Where is the Rainbow Reef Located?  It lies in the Somosomo Strait which is the passage that runs between Vanua Levu (Fiji’s second largest island) and Taveuni Island (Fiji’s third largest island).  In Fijian Somosomo Strait means “good water” and it is called this because the strait has strong tidal currents, providing a good supply of nutrients, just the right ingredients for healthy and diverse soft coral and abundant fish.

Photo courtesy of Taveunit Dive Resort

The Great White Wall Dive

Our friends on Pogeyan who have been diving this area for years take us out on our first Rainbow Reef dive.  They take us to the Great White Wall which happened to be in full bloom (a rare occurence evidently).

Matt and I had not been diving in awhile so we take it slow.  First we wanted to make sure his ear (which he perforated last season) was ok and second we wanted to make sure all of our gear worked properly.  Our friends took the adventurous way down to the wall which was through a tunnel.  But I was not having any of that!  So, Matt and I took a leisurely descent down to about 12-15 meters and swam over the edge.  And let me just say “WOW”

It was as if snow had fallen on the soft coral under water!  The top left photo shows the white coral with the naked eye (25 meters/85′ below the surface) and in the upper right corner is the same white coral with a light on it (from our friend).

I am not sure how it happens but the white wall actually glows and shimmers!  It doesn’t come out so great with my little GoPro and no light, but it was glorious.

Once you swim past the Great White Wall you get into tons of color.  It is obvious why they call this the rainbow reef.  So many purples, yellows, and greens!

The dive takes my breath away with its pure beauty!

So many bright colors, tons of schools of fish in all sorts of varieties, and hard and soft coral intermixed on the wall.

We found a rather large clam with a personal guardian and a beautiful black soft coral growing in the center of a larger white hard coral.

Our total depth for the Great White Wall was about 26 meters (85′) and the water was moderate but we did have wet suits on (3mil).  There was a slight current pushing us along the wall.  A truly amazing dive.  I wish we had more time to do this multiple times!

The Zoo

Our next dive with with Dive Academy at the Zoo!  We hired a guide to dive with us on the Rainbow Reef “Zoo” because there can be dangerous currents.  It is super nice to be picked up from the boat, borrow tanks, and be picked up and dropped off at the dive site.  Our guide, Ian was full  of excitement at diving the zoo.  This particular dive site is known for its large pelagic fish and it is also known as a mating grounds for gray sharks!

We saw schools of barracuda, two gray sharks (not mating) several white tip sharks, a few trevallis and groupers. Of course, I did not get any photos of these big guys as they were a bit too far away for them to come out good.  But I did get a couple of sharks playing with Matt (top two photos).

We saw lots of soft coral with little nemos protecting each of them.  I don’t know why, but I always want to stick my finger in the center of the soft coral….but I never dare to!

And we saw lots of these hard corals with little protectors.

So much beauty in one spot on the reef.

An Octopus!

It is always a special treat to find an octopus and this one wanted to check us out too.  He was huge!  Can you spot him in the top photo??  He blends in so well with the coral.

He was so curious!  It reminded me of the documentary “The Octopus Teacher.”

It was the perfect way to end a perfect dive!  Truly wish we could spend a month here exploring the other dive sites at Rainbow Reef!  An absolute must see when you are in Fiji!

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occured toward the end of August.  In our last blog we have a posse part at Nawi Marina.

Snorkeling the Chimneys at Namena

The small island of Namena is the largest no-take reserve in Fiji.  Established in 1997, Namena is both a marine and bird preseve.  It is slowly coming back to its former glory after the 2016 cyclone devasted the island. Prior to the cyclone, this area boasted over 1,000 fish species, over 600 pairs of red-footed boobies and a major nesting ground for the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle.

To access Namena you have to enter through one of few passes.  These passes were much easier to navigate than the passes of the Tuamotus in French Polynesia.  Near the island of Namena is one mooring.  We originally tried to anchor near the island but discovered too many bommies.  So, we checked out the mooring and determined it was safe to hold our home.  

The mooring is right in front of a small beach.  Perfect location to watch all of the nesting birds return home from a day of hunting.

Nesting birds are all over the island.  We saw lots of boobies!

We went ashore and found a trail that led us to the other side of the island.  Super pretty beaches.

Best Diving / Snorkeling in Fiji

Namena is the home of some of the best diving in Fiji.  They have many dive sites inside and outside the reef.  The most famous are the chimneys, teutons, mushroom, and grand central station pass.

We don’t have a compressor so we have to be selective about where we dive until we can find a place to refill our tanks.  We decided to snorkel the sites prior to getting all of our gear out.

The Chimneys

The Chimneys consist of two sheer towers about 10 meters in diamer and 25 meters tall.  The stretch majestically from the sea bed to the sun barely below the water’s surface.  My awesome GoPro doesn’t do well far away so I tried to take photos of one of the chimneys in sections.

The water was a bit silty or murky but it very well could have been the tide.  Both chimneys were teaming with little fish.  They stayed together in their schools and created these amazing blocks of color.

Blooming coral created small bursts of color on the top and on the sides of the chimneys.

Teutons and Mushroom Sites

My favorite sites were the Teutons and the Mushooms as there seemed to be even more schools of fish.  

Even the fish were getting into the Barbie craze…a pink comet trail of fish zoomed past me.

It was a strange feeling of being the new kid at school.  I stood out like a sore thumb in a sea of beauty.

Some fish were curious and came up to see me, but most fled at first site of my bubbles.

And then I found a large, beautiful soft coral with 4 nemos!

I simply love this coral and wish I had nemo protecting me!

Look at all of that stunning color! The best aquarium ever.

Namena Resort

Unfortunately, the Nemena Resort was destroyed in 2016 cyclone.  They have a great website that states they are rebuilding, but it sure does not look like it from where we stand.  It looks like there are people living in the houses up on the hill, but not much is going on.

We cetainly enjoyed our time in Namena.  It is amazing to see the underwater world and the land bounce back from the 2016 cyclone.  Nature is spell bounding and endures.

This blog post occured in mid-August.  Our blogs run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  Did you see the new Nawi Marina in Savusavu in our last blog?

Sunken Treasures

I am ashamed to admit this but I have never snorkeled the sunken treasures site located less than 5 minutes from our Tahiti anchorage.  You are probably thinking, WTF?  Yes, we have anchored in the same spot in Tahiti for 3 years at least 2 dozen times!  Yet, I have never been to this super cool spot!

We gather our friends Thomas and Marika (from “Scooter”) and we make the short trek to the snorkel spot.  Directly under the dinghy is the first of two sunken ships.   I jump in to see the shell of a rather large ship.  The smaller of the two ships is located 30 meters away near the airplane.

Strategically placed together are the Cessna 172 airplane and the smaller ship.  The two ships did not prove to be very interesting as they had no coral growth or wildlife on or around them.

Matt decides he wants to fly the plane so he snorkels down 10m (30’+) while Thomas goes down with my GoPro. 

Matt has to wiggle into the cockpit, but manages to give us a thumbs up.

The plane proves to be far more interesting to shoot from all different angles.  If you look closely, you will see that the tires are still on the plane!

Rumor has it that on April 16, 1995, following an emergency landing, this plane sank near the runway of the Tahiti airport.  Now it remains at the site of the Aquarium with two other boats and a work station in 10 meters of water.

Working Remote?

Next to the plane is the strangest thing….a small desk with a lamp, adding machine, pencil cup and an apple computer (complete with keyboard).  We’ve been saying that internet is hard to find in French Polynesia – but this shows we exhausted all possibilities!

Just because it is such a cool shot, here is a single photo of Matt at the desk after he pounded it when he realized he had no connectivity.

We also had lots of super curious fish coming to check us out.

And we found a beautiful heart made of coral because we love Tahiti.

We say farewell to Fakarava after some fabulous shark dives.  Events from this blog post occurred toward the end of March 2022.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual events.