The past couple of years, we’ve dove in Hawaii and the Caribbean, and consequently have missed seeing the colorful clown anemone fish. Happily, we had an abundance of them in Fiji, and a few different species (and in different types of anemones) at that!
There’s obviously tons of other colorful fish besides these cute clown anemones of course, including our new favorite wrasse, the bird wrasse.
Except for one day, we spent the rest of our mornings in Fiji underwater. With over 2300 species of fish and nearly 400 species of corals, every dive was an exciting one.
Before this trip, I wasn’t really a fan of drift diving, because I preferred the opportunity to stick myself in one spot and have the luxury of slowly figuring out the proper exposure and strobe lighting for my subject. But currents are what lends the Somosomo Strait its fame and the title ‘soft coral capital of the world’. And with dive sites so brimming with life at every turn, photography can take a back seat. Half the time, I honestly did not know where to turn my head. From the moment we descended, there were so much to look at. Schooling black and red snappers, jacks, barracudas, big eyed brim, to the tiny thousands of blue chromis, orange and purple anthias. Heaps of corals – soft orange, white, blue, pink, purple polyps, hard stag horn corals, table top corals, fan corals. Beds of anemones with shy clown fish occupants. The odd sleepy white tip reef shark, the rainbow colored parrot fish and trigger fish. Nudibranches in all colors, stripes and patterns. Oy.
I did take photos though, loads of them. And I feel like I’m slowly getting the hang of this underwater photography thingy. If only half the time my camera doesn’t mysteriously reset itself to jpeg mode.
We got lucky with the weather. It had been raining steadily the few days before we arrived, and was pretty wet the Saturday afternoon we landed. But the clouds steadily cleared up such that by Sunday evening, patches of blue sky could be seen overhead.
We’ve just come back from a phenomenal week in Taveuni, Fiji with a couple old friends. What a trip!
I’d picked Taveuni, out of the 300 Fijian islands, because of its fame as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ (Jacques Cousteau). What we didn’t realize – and reveled in – is that Taveuni, also known as the Garden Island, is a quiet slice of haven still quite set back in time and away from the bustle and smog of city life. The island is 42km long and 10km wide, and has only 18,000 or so inhabitants who mostly stay in small villages dotted around the lush land. There are two small towns with grocery stalls, but most of the villagers grow their own crops, rear their own animals, and catch their own fish. There isn’t much to do in town, and there are only a couple restaurants that the locals frequent.
We spent most of our time on land lounging around our resort anyway. Nakia Resort & Dive, a small eco resort with 4 bures (Fijian word for wooden and straw huts) and a maximum of 12 guests. The week we were there, there were just 6 of us, and our routine was that we’d wake up at sunrise for an early breakfast before going diving. In the afternoon, we’d come back to a late but hearty lunch, then lounge around by the pool or the hammock with a book in hand. In the evenings, we’d gather for more food and drink, spend a couple of hours comfortably chatting or playing some board or card games, then retire to bed by the moonlight. Rinse and repeat.
We did spend a day poking around the north-eastern part of the island though, on the Lavena Coastal Walk: