Diving Fiji & Fiji Liveaboards
Located deep in the South Pacific, Fiji has been the dream destination for many a traveller. This beautiful collection of 333 islands is home to some stunning flora and fauna both above and below the water. Fiji’s diving fame originally stems from its abundant shark populations, and is considered one of the best places in the world to dive with sharks.
While many of Fiji’s dive sites can have calm easy conditions, quite a few of them do have strong currents. It is these currents that attract the sharks along with rich marine life for them to feed on, that resides on Fiji’s healthy pristine reefs. Strong currents also tend to create soft corals in abundance, which find it very easy to feed on the abundant nutrients floating in the currents; Fiji is world famous for these soft corals. In fact, it’s fame as a dive destination stretches all the way back to Jacques Cousteau, who described the waters around these islands as the soft coral capital of the world.
When it comes do diving pristine healthy reefs and encountering a rich and diverse marine life, Fiji will always rank near the top of any of the top ten best diving destinations list.
Capital City & Airport
Suva is the capital of Fiji and is located on the south-eastern coast of the island of Viti Levu. Fiji is served by two international airports with Nadi International Airport NAN being the main gateway into the country. You can also fly into Nausori International Airport SUV close to Suva, although the choice of destinations and airlines is very limited.
The main airline serving Fiji is Fiji Airways. The airline mainly operates out of its hub at Nadi International Airport. The airline currently offers a service to 17 cities located in 10 countries around the Pacific rim. While many of its routes are within the islands and relatively local, they also have international flights to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States. So, if visiting Fiji from the US your best option is to travel direct via San Francisco SFO or Los Angeles LAX. From Europe and Asia, you will have to connect in Singapore SIN or Hong Kong HKG.
Time Difference To UTC
With its location to the east of Australia, Fiji is at GMT/UTC +12
Electricity And Power
Fiji uses 240V 50Hz cycle power supply, with a standard 3 prong socket like the one commonly used in Australia and New Zealand. One thing to note is that Fiji sees lots of tourists from Europe and the US so most big hotels and resorts do offer 110V 60Hz outlets, and frequently have adapters available. If you are not sure it is always best to bring your own adapter. It is also worth noting that many resorts have generators to supply their own electrical power, when they start and stop it can create a surge, so it is best to bring an adapter or plug with some form of surge protection.
The currency in country is the Fijian Dollar FJD. The currency has been relatively stable over the last few years and has an approximate exchange rate of 1 Fijian Dollar FJD = 0.41EUR/0.49USD
The majority of the Fijian people (56.8%) are iTaukei, who are the original indigenous Fijians. The second largest group of people are of Indian descent (37.5%). The third distinct group of Fiji’s inhabitants are Rotumans (1.2%). The rest of the population (4.5%) is composed of a mix of Europeans, part Europeans, Chinese and Pacific Islanders.
While on Fiji’s islands there are several languages spoken, the three official languages of Fiji are Fijian, Hindi known as Fijian Hindi and English. While native languages are more widely spoken off the beaten track, almost all government business and administration is conducted in English, and as such most Fijians will speak English as a second language and in some cases as a first language.
Fiji is a predominantly Christian country with 64.4% of the population identifying as Christian. The other predominant religion is Hinduism with 27.9% of the population identifying themselves as Hindu. The rest of the population (7.7%) is split amongst various other local, international and aboriginal belief systems.
Fiji has a good healthcare system, although it is not as advanced as in some developed countries. One aspect of Fijian healthcare that is not well developed is emergency care, with ambulances tending to be slow and under-equipped, especially in rural areas. While private healthcare is good in Fiji it can prove expensive, so it is always best to have travel insurance in case of an unforeseen emergency. There are no immunisations required for travelling to Fiji, although be aware that certain mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever are prevalent, as well as Tuberculosis.
Diving insurance is a must; Fiji has one recompression chamber located at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. While the medical facilities are suitable for treatment of diving emergencies, and low level helicopter transport can be organised between various islands, they are not covered by public health and will cost you a significant amount. So, if you are going to dive in Fiji it is best that you have your own independent diving insurance with adequate coverage.
The Climate In Fiji
Fiji has a tropical climate with very stable temperatures year-round. On average you will always find the temperature in Fiji between 26C/79F and 31C/89F year-round, with very little distinctions between the different seasons. One thing is that for most of the year a gentle trade wind blows from the east/south-east. This wind, which dies down in the evening before picking up again in the middle of the morning, can provide a great cooling effect across Fiji. Being in the southern hemisphere, summer runs from November to April, which also is the rainy season, although the rain does not tend to be too heavy.
Getting There And Around
Getting to Fiji is not difficult despite its remoteness. There are plenty of direct flights and you can get to Fiji directly from the United States, or by connecting in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore, if you are coming from Europe or Asia. While there are various ferries and boats that can get you around the islands of Fiji, it is by far easier, quicker, and more convenient to use Fiji Airways to hop between the various destinations. The main port for liveaboard departures is the capital Suva, close to Nausori International Airport. Since most international flights land at Nadi international, there are 4 daily flights between the two airports.
In terms of visas, Fiji has a visa waiver program for multiple countries. The list is diverse and extensive, and you will have to check with the Fijian high commission to see if your country is on the list. Citizens of countries not present on the list can apply for a single-entry visa which allows a maximum of four months stay from date of entry, and is valid for three months from the date of issue. Alternatively, if you are planning on several visits you can apply for a one year multiple entry visa, that allows multiple trips not exceeding four months per visit.
Fiji has a very diverse marine ecosystem, with plenty of reef and a huge array of soft corals. The islands host over 1,200 species of fish living on or near reefs, with a staggering 390 species of corals. While most species of indo-pacific fish can be found in Fijian waters, where Fiji comes into its own is with bigger creatures.
Fijian waters are home to 12 species of whales, including the world’s largest ever living creature, the blue whale, which migrate through Fijian water. You will also find Spotted dolphins, Humpback whales, Dwarf Minke whale, Bryde’s whale, Fin whale, and the Pygmy Blue whale.
If turtles are your thing, then Fiji is your place. It is one of the few places in the world that has a resident population of all seven sea turtles known to science. In Fiji you can encounter Green turtles, Loggerhead turtles, Kemp’s Ridley turtles, Olive Ridley turtles, Hawksbill turtles, Flatback turtles, and the world’s largest sea turtle that can weigh up to 900kg/2,000lbs, the Leatherback.
The main card in Fiji’s hand when it comes to diving is sharks, since there is a diverse healthy population of sharks in Fijian waters. When diving in Fiji you can encounter a wide array of reef sharks, from Whitetip and Blacktip sharks to Grey reef and Silvertip sharks. If that is not enough, there are plenty of the big boys as well. In Fiji you can also encounter Bull sharks, Lemon sharks, and the magnificent Tiger shark. Sharks are so prolific in Fijian waters that one dive site can have up to 9 species of shark.
Best Diving Destinations
Shark Fin Point
It will come as no surprise that this dive spot gets its name from the large number of Whitetip and Grey reef sharks found at the site. This spectacular site and its strong currents also hosts huge schools of Barracudas, with schools regularly numbering over 500 individual fish. Once you have gotten over the excitement of all the sharks and barracudas, you can also encounter eagle rays, and the reef has plenty of eels and lobsters. If you are lucky you may also encounter a whale shark passing by.
This impressive dive site is the ultimate shark dive, and has been named as arguably the best shark dive in the world. The dive which is 30m/100ft deep is purely about shark action. Here you will encounter up to nine species of shark including some of Fiji’s big boys. Sharks that you can encounter on this dive include Whitetip Reef sharks, Silvertip sharks, Tawny Nurse sharks, Grey Reef sharks, Blacktip Reef sharks, Sicklefin Lemon sharks, Bull sharks, and Tiger sharks.
These coral gardens can make a spectacular drift dive from the outer reef through a passage to the inner reef. With plenty of hard and soft corals, this site has lots to offer including some reef sharks like whitetips, and a host of other species. Diving Makongi you will encounter eagle rays, plenty of reef fish and even the odd Manta ray.
Namena Marine Reserve
The jewel in the crown of Fijian Liveaboard diving, this site has the most biodiverse ecosystem in Fijian waters. This area is renowned for the exceptional health of its reefs. Due to its remoteness and lack of accessibility the reefs are stunningly pristine. Diving here you will find plenty of coral “bommies” covered with hard and soft coral. The site also has a very rich marine life, with over 1,000 species of fish documented as resident in the area. Diving Namena you will find everything you could ever want from a reef dive.
Wakaya Pass is a relatively deep wall dive with a bottom that pushes the limits of recreational diving, lying at 42m/140ft. Drifting along this wall you will have encounters with hammerhead sharks, manta rays, as well as whitetip reef sharks, and nurse sharks. Other species that can be found at the site include turtles, marble rays, barracudas and ribbon eels. It makes for a fun and interesting dive, with great encounters.
This site is made up of one very large coral head “bommie”. It is covered by a host of hard corals, and is home to a significant number of reef fish. This dive varies in depth from 13m/45ft to 28m/95ft.
The main dive site on Wakaya Island is called Gem Stone, and it is one to remember. Here you will regularly encounter manta rays and hammerhead sharks hanging around at the same time. While you are waiting for the big guys to turn up there is plenty of whitetip sharks to enjoy. Diving this site at night is an amazing experience, where lightfish turn up in force and make it a dream-like experience.
This is one of the more gentle dives to be found in Fiji. A lovely reef that is home to both soft and hard corals, there is plenty of reef life including a resident Napoleon wrasse. At Rustic Arch you will also encounter moray eels, as well as the odd whitetip shark.
Diving the more adventurous spots in Fiji is not for the inexperienced or faint hearted. The dives can be exhilarating with plenty of big encounters on impressive drift dives. Two items to make sure you bring are an SMB and a Reef hook, so you can safely anchor yourself in a strong current, relax and enjoy the show. Since the best diving in Fiji is to be had by liveaboard, make sure to follow our tips and tricks to liveaboard diving and ensure that you are fit and well prepared. Needless to say, dive insurance is a must when diving in Fiji.
When To Visit
Diving is possible in Fiji year-round. The summer season runs from November to April, and the water is at its warmest between 28C/82F and 30C/86F. The summer is also the rainy season when the water blooms with plankton, which in turn brings in a host of the big boys like whales and mantas. The winter runs from May to October, although the best visibility is to be found between July and December when the water is at its coldest, between 22C/71F and 25C/77F.
Choosing when to go is quite flexible, lots of divers head out to Fiji during the Summer rainy season, since that is the time when you get the best action and the greatest chance of encounters with whales and mantas. On the other hand, many divers prefer to visit from November to March, which is a low season and you can pick up excellent rates. Even though this time of year is considered the rainy season it tends to have little impact since when it rains it does not last for long. The rainy season is also the cyclone season, and while they are rare they do happen.
If you prefer to head out during quieter times, then it is best to avoid May to October, which is the tourist high season. During this time resorts can become crowded and overly expensive.
There are plenty of things to do in Fiji, from white sandy beaches to kayaking and paddling you will always find an activity to relax and while your time away. One of the best aspects of visiting Fiji is the culture. Fiji is home to one of the most hospitable cultures in the world, so interacting with the locals and delving deep into Pacific island culture will prove as enjoyable as it is fascinating. Finally, if you like sports then you have to watch one of the local rugby matches. Fiji is famous and has consistently produced some of the best rugby players in the world, so watching a local game gives a new appreciation of the importance of the sport and its place in the culture.
If you are looking for a dream destination for your next dive trip, and you love sharks and big stuff, then Fiji tops the list of the best possible destinations. Fiji is a fascinating place and is home to some amazing diving, and due to its remoteness, it is not completely inundated with tourists like some other dive destinations. So why not think Fiji for your next dive holiday?