Tag Archives: snorkeling

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.

Christmas Tree of the ocean

The Ocean’s Christmas Tree

Kimberly, my beautifully talented sister, went Christmas tree shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend with her family.  Pangs of jealousy and want shot through me.  Not only because I was not there with them for the holiday, but also because we would not be getting a tree as well.  Sure, we have a small wooden one for the boat, but it is not the same.  Yes, even living in paradise, with the one you love, still has you wanting more.  Greedy little thing that I am!

A few days later, Matt took me snorkeling in the little protected reef where we are anchored within the Amanu lagoon.  It has been calling to us to explore for a few days, but the winds have been such that it was not conducive to good visibility.

There were not many fish, but there were tons and tons of ocean christmas trees!  I love these little creatures (yes, they are live)!  When they are out in their full glory, they look just like miniature christmas trees

Sure, I can’t smell them or decorate them or even enjoy them for a month like you landlubbers do.  But I have living, breathing, colorful christmas trees.

Love the variety of colors on each christmas tree

Love the variety of colors on each christmas tree

Each worm (yep they are worms) sprouts two trees.  You always see two by two in the same colors.  They also seem to like the same type of coral.  Check out the black tree with a white top (3rd photo down on left).  Just love all the colors.

A Christmas Tree in every nook

A Christmas Tree in every nook

They are fascinating and fun to play with.  Probably not nice, but I love to watch them disappear and reappear.

We also found loads of clams with a rainbow of lips.

Colorful clams

Colorful clams

Several really large oyster shells – all growing upside down with little things that look like teeth.

Large Oyster Shells

Large Oyster Shells

A beautiful, little starfish sitting in the middle of the sand with nothing else around her, large sea cucumbers, and my own little fish enjoying the snorkel.

The reef is full of beautiful coral sculptures that invite closer to visit its communities.

The reef itself is beautiful.  The top photo is the reef above water and the rest are below water.

When they get scared or feel threatened, they suck themselves up into their little tubey thing.  These are my favorite shots from this snorkel.  I love the pink and white christmas tree.

Love the pink christmas tree

Love the pink christmas tree

We may not have access to all of the holiday trimmings, but seeing these sweet christmas trees brightened my holiday season!

Events from this blog post occurred around the 1st week of December, 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.