DiverWire Destination: Volivoli Resort, Fiji Islands
(DiverWire) Fiji is one of the premiere diving spots in the world. As a dive store owner, we have been taking groups to Fiji for the past ten years. Over the years, I have dived on many of the best sites this South Pacific has to offer. The best diving in all of Fiji is an area called the “Bligh Waters”. Yes, it is named after the infamous Captain of the H.M.S. BOUNTY made famous in the novel “Mutiny on the Bounty”.
Other than by live-a-board dive boat, the only way to dive this area is with Ra Divers located at Volivoli Beach Resort (VBR) on the northern side of the island of Viti Levu. Ra Divers has been in business since 1992 and knows where the best diving is located. Ra Divers is a family owned dive operation. The Darling Family was ready to welcome divers at their resort with the completion of the luxury air-conditioned Oceanview private villas in 2009. In 2009, just as they were putting the final touches on the Villas, we took a group of twenty-two divers to the resort and fell in love, not only with the resort, but with the Darling family and all of their wonderful staff. As anyone who has ever been to Fiji will tell you, the island population is unbelievably happy and friendly.
Because we were so impressed with the resort and dive operation, we decided to return with a group of forty-two in February. After a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Nadi, Fiji, we were met as we came out of Customs by the resort’s transport service who loaded us up and we got underway on our scenic 2 and 1/2 hour ride up to VBR. There are no “island hopping” planes or long boat rides to get to VBR. Since you arrive at the resort before lunch, it is easy to get in an afternoon dive to check your dive gear and work on you buoyancy. We started boat diving the next morning.
If the weather cooperates, the place to go in the Bligh Water is the Vatu-I-Ra Passage. The dive sites we visited included “Breathtaker”, “Bulamaker”, “Dreammaker”, and the “Wheat fields”. Before each dive, the Divemaster would give a detailed description of the site, help you with your dive gear and, if you desired, would escort the group. All the Divemasters had an uncanny ability to find the most interesting creatures. Most of the sites, if not all, are large coral pinnacles, sometimes two or three together, some with beautiful coral incrusted swim-thru’s. The pinnacles are covered in both hard and soft coral and huge gorgonians. The soft corals and gorgonians are brilliant reds, oranges, pinks, yellows plus every color of the rainbow.
Fiji is definitely the SOFT CORAL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. Currents can be relatively mild to very strong. The upside of currents is that they bring in all the nutrients necessary to cause the coral to open up and display all that glorious color. You want currents not only for the color but to provide the food that attracts the larger pelagic fish. We saw Ocean White Tips, Black Tips Grey Reef and Hammerhead sharks. Eagle Rays are often present when there is a strong current. Schools of Barracuda, Trevallys and Tuna can be found cruising by on almost every dive. All though we did not see any, Whale Sharks have been spotted cruising the area.
The reefs are not only covered with coral, there are also yellow, black, and green crinoids. Many types of anemones also inhabit the reefs along with some very interesting creatures. We saw brown banded pipefish, blue ribbon eels, black saddle groupers, scribbled file fish and lots of anthias. The macro photographer will enjoy the many nudibranches and coral polyps.
On our night dive, all the crustaceans come out. You will see many spiny and slipper lobster and arrowhead crabs. The macro photographer will enjoy the many nudibranches and coral polyps. When the weather is not cooperating or it is too rough to get to the passage, no worries! There are plenty of dive sites within fifteen minutes of the resort. The visibility might be slightly less thanthe 100 foot plus you experience in the passage, but the diving is very similar.
The resort offers “dive packages” that include round trip group transfers, accommodations, diving, and all meals. One of the great things about the restaurant is that it begins service at is open at 6:00 am and remains open until 9:00 pm or later. There is no set time for meals. You can eat whenever you so desire. All the food is cooked to order off a chalk board menu which features daily specials. The dining room is rich with renewable woods and beautiful leather furnishings. The swim up pool bar, pool and sundeck area is a great place to relax after a day of diving.
The accommodations include ten private ocean view villas and the just completed nine ocean view deluxe hotel- type rooms. The private Villas have large terraces boasting expansive ocean views, a queen bed sleeping area and large bathroom with duel sinks on the upper level; two single bed size sofas furnish the sitting area on the lower level. Sharing the lower level with the sitting room is your own, full kitchen, including a washing machine that makes it very convenient to travel with fewer clothes. The brand new Deluxe rooms also have their own ocean view terraces and washing facilities at the end of the building. The Deluxe units were designed with the “twin share” dive buddy in mind. Each room is large with two of everything.. Each room is good size with two queen beds, a long desk with two areas supplied by electrical outlets, duel sinks in the bathrooms, frig and coffee/tea making fixings. WiFi is currently available in the Deluxe rooms and in the restaurant bar area. WiFi is coming soon to the Villas.
If you are going to Fiji, I recommend staying at this beautiful newly built resort, diving with the Bligh Water experts – Ra Divers. Family owned and operated dive resorts with that personal touch are hard to find among the impersonal corporate managed resorts and hotel chains. It was such a delight to find Volivoli Beach Resort and the knowledgeable, experienced Ra Divers. We’ll return to this jewel in Fiji again and again.
Andy Siebert, Owner of Scuba World Sacramento, is the newest DiverWire contributing writer. Andy and his wife Lynn have led dive groups all over the world. Andy’s unique insights will certainly entertain and educate regular readers.