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The Fijian archipelago is a well-trotted destination, thanks in part to its pristine azure waters, abundant wildlife, and picturesque scenery. But one of the country's biggest draws is its unparalleled scuba diving.
With 333 islands, the South Pacific nation is a scuba diver's dream. And being in such a remote location—Fiji's largest neighbors, Australia and New Zealand, are 2,800 miles east and 1,600 miles north, respectively—means visitors will have a truly unique experience. Due to its isolation, the environment is still in pristine, untouched conditions—which includes being free from coastal overpopulation, sedimentary and chemical runoffs from farming, and rising sea temperatures (which can lead to coral bleaching).
With nearly 70 dive sites, and more being added regularly, there are unique opportunities for scuba divers of all skill levels. These include swimming with up to eight different shark species on Beqa Lagoon and Pacific Harbour, soaking up the underwater views of the Rainbow Reef in Taveuni, and frolicking alongside manta rays on Nanuya Balavu Island.
Fiji’s mild blue waters are, on average, a balmy 77ºF and are teeming with wildlife. Visitors can swim with over 1,500 species of fish and thousands of other marine creatures that include Hawksbill turtles, nudibranchs, manta shrimp, black-banded sea snakes, squid, and migrating humpback whales and spinner dolphins. Travelers can also get an up-close look at over 300 types of hard coral species (by comparison, Hawaii has 10 types), along with the most abundant soft coral diversity in the world (which explains Fiji’s moniker as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World”).
Regardless of skill level, the waters are welcoming to all thanks to Fiji’s tropical climate and low water turbidity. Furthermore, newbies can rest-easy knowing that they needn't dive deep (range is as little as 3 to 30 meters) to experience the wild pleasures of underwater life. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies will be seduced by adventures at every turn which includes deep dive experiences, coral reef conservation and reforestation initiatives, night dives with marine biologists, and even digital underwater photography courses.
No matter your skill level, it all begins with selecting the proper dive school. PADI, which stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is used by a host of 5-star properties in Fiji, including Namale Fiji, Jean-Michel Cousteau (both on Vanua Levu Island), and the newly opened Six Senses Fiji on Malolo Island. The organization has over 6,200 dive centers and resorts in over 180 countries and territories, and once certified, divers have can scuba dive around the world, where the program is recognized.
According to divemasters Andy Frazer, of Jean-Michel Cousteau resort, and Jason Kolenski, Operations Director for Hauraki Adventures, a nurturing and intuitive instructor is crucial for new divers. The Discover Scuba Dive Program (or Resort Course) is the easiest and quickest way to get a same-day intro dive. It begins with a short video to outline safety and preliminary information, it’s followed by getting properly outfitted (equipment is provided on-site so there’s no need to worry about committing to, or purchasing, anything in advance), and mastering key skills (along with a physical assessment) in an on-property resort pool. Then, visitors perform an open water dive with an instructor and spend about 30 to 45 minutes underwater to get acclimatized, all while being captivated and surrounded by Fiji’s enriching biodiversity. Depending on your comfort level, you can dive in as little as 2 hours, start to finish. “Once this is completed, you can actually get certified in a mere three days,” explained Frazer.
Kolenski said that he considers scuba diving in Fiji to be more than just a sport, but a life-changing experience. He explained that there’s a 'profound serenity and peacefulness in connecting with nature underwater, all the noise of the world dissipates and you’re surrounded by astounding beauty.'