Fiji is all about the “Senga na Lenga” attitude.
No worries is a common phrase you will hear bounced about while travelling this beautiful island chain of the South Pacific.
Gone are the days of cannibalism, travellers & divers are now welcomed with open arms, a huge smile and a coconut cup of Kava (Fijian grog).
Beqa Lagoon Shark Dive
It is the ultimate shark dive experience. It has one of the most diverse species of sharks you can find in one area and is not for the faint hearted. Divers must have at least 30-40 dives logged.
Starting with a scenic boat ride from the main land, you head down to the river mouth and out to sea. As your stomach fills up with butterflies while you are listening to the in depth brief and ready to gear up, the anticipation is unbearable. You pray to Dakuwaga the Fijian shark God and take the plunge.
The first dive is the where you find the BIG BOYS. With a garbage bin full of fish food, the dive guide starts to hand out breakfast (the sharks know that SCUBA Divers are not on the menu)!
This encourages the Jacks, Groupers and Snappers to arrive on scene first. Through all the chaos you will suddenly witness what you jumped in for…. The Bull Sharks (Carcharhinus leucas). Their giant girth and stature will impress even the most avid shark diver. With anything from 5 – 20 of these impressive creatures circling waiting to be hand fed. If the Shark God is on your side that day he may even bless you with a Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) encounter. When the presence of this magnificent fish arrives even the Bull sharks know their place in line and will back off to let this solitary hunter feed.
After “the feed” is over it is then time to come up to the shallows to appreciate the smaller species such as the Whitetip Reef shark (Triaenodon obesus), Blacktip Reef shark (Charcharhinus melanopterus) Grey Reefs (Charcharhinus amblyrhynchos) Lemons (Negaprion brevirostris) and Tawny Nurses (Nebrius ferrungineus).
If that wasn’t enough fun for the morning you get to go in for seconds. Again, another feeding frenzy at a depth of around 16m/55ft. A great chance to see the sharks again as nerves have settled by now. All the while your dive is taking place there is a guide filming the experience so you have the option to buy the DVD to remember your dive of a life time, accompanied by a soundtrack of traditional Fijian music and of course “Eye of the Tiger” to showcase the majestic fish.
Not only is this is a brilliant dive, but also helps in protecting and safeguarding the reef and species that live and travel within the Shark Reef Marine Reserve. Our ocean is full of fragile ecosystems and Fijians are making the efforts to preserve and protect their reefs from illegal fishing. Since the shark dive was first introduced the reef itself has become healthier with an influx of marine life all the way to the top of the food chain.
It is always a good feeling knowing that you have the opportunity to not only have a special dive but also knowing that you can help with the conservation efforts that the Shark Reef Marine Reserve are working so hard in protecting for the future of our planet.
If diving into a feeding frenzy is not quite your idea of fun, do not panic!
There is plenty more that Fiji offers for the more laid back diver. The soft coral in these waters are world renowned, the colours are outstanding and perfect for photography. The abundance and diversity of marine life is also exceptional from the coral reef fishes to the many different invertebrates hiding in the nooks and crannies!
One of the best ways to get the most out of your diving in the Fijian islands is on a live-aboard. This way you can reach pristine reefs located all around the smaller surrounding islands of the main land.
Nigali Passage is a fantastic dive for reef sharks if you don’t mind current. It is a passage way through a barrier reef just off the West side of Gau Island which hosts many different pelagic species. It makes for a perfect drift dive so no need to find the boat!
Any diver would be over the moon with what Fiji has to offer underwater. Unlike anywhere else I have dived on the planet and after spending four months there it holds a very special place in my heart. Below the surface you will not be disappointed with the kaleidoscope of colour the reefs have to offer, to when you come up to dry land watching the majestic beauty of the sunset while immersing yourself in local island food, drink and friendly company.
Fiji will really have you living the “Sega na Lenga” motto.