Trip Report - Taveuni/Rainbow Reef and Beqa Shark Dive
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Trip Report - Taveuni/Rainbow Reef and Beqa Shark Dive
Just got back from two week honeymoon in Fiji. Ended up staying 7 nights at Paradise Taveuni and 5 nights at Royal Davui (tiny island just off Beqa).
We did 5 days of two tank boat dives in Taveuni and I did the shark dive in Beqa lagoon. In Taveuni we ended up doing 4 days on the infamous Rainbow Reef and 1 day on Vuna Reef.
The soft coral on Rainbow Reef really is stunning. The White Wall is definitely worth the dive. From as far up to as far down as you can see it is nothing but soft white coral. The tides were never in our favor to do the typical swim through, but we drifted by it when the current was ripping and it definitely looked like a ski slope. Hoping to get some descent pictures but the depth (90-100 ft) make that near impossible. Purple wall was also beautiful because of the color, but is not as large as the White Wall. Soft coral capitol of the world definitely fits.
Also loved the plethora of blue ribbon eels (especially off the house reef on Paradise, spotted 3 blue ribbon eels and 1 juvenile blue ribbon) and colorful nudibranches. Most of the dives were drift dives with only occasionally going against the current.
We saw pilot whales to and from Rainbow Reef every day. Was hoping to be able to snorkel with them and get some pictures, but I guess they won't let you ever since the girl got dragged down to 180 feet while snorkeling with one somewhere else. Just missed a great picture of when when I stuck the camera over the end of the boat.
Venu reef was ok, not nearly as good as Rainbow Reef. Much murkier water and lots of crown of thrones.
Dive shop at Paradise is currently operated by Dive Taveuni. Fabi is a great dive master and very entertaining. Apparently Paradise is trying to open their own shop so not sure what the deal is going forward, but the current setup was nice.
Beqa Shark Dive was pretty awesome. As long as you don't mind a staged feeding event, the number of sharks and fish is insane. It's two dives, one at 90 feet and one at 60 feet. Saw bull sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, and silver tip sharks. Apparently there is a tiger shark who shows up about once a week but we did not see it (that would scare me). Tons of fish also appear, both big and small, but the small ones are rather annoying as it makes it tough to see the sharks and all your pictures become pictures of shiny fish. Depth of the first dive makes shots very difficult with 1 strobe. Also the amount of sand and sediment kicked up causes lots of backscatter.
Two things I didn't like about it
1) Dive master never mentioned that the first dive could take you into deco time. Dive is about 20-30 minutes at 90 feet and it moved my computer into a 8 minute deco stop at 10 feet. That's fine but I would have liked them to warn me about that before the dive.
2) You kneel down in front of a coral formation and I saw at least 4-5 people finning and breaking large amounts of coral.
Stayed at Paradise Taveuni on the southern part of Taveuni. Resort is small and beautiful. Think there are about 15 burres. Very well kept grounds, right on the water. No beach, but beautiful cliffs on the water. Burres are spacious and nice, although lack a/c. I thought that would be a problem but it was surprisingly cool in there. Everyone gets their own burre with two rooms and an outdoor shower. Loved showering outdoors! The staff there are unbelievably nice and genuine. The food is good considering the remoteness. On the way down we passed by Garden Island Resort, looks like a motel from the outside, glad we stayed at Paradise.
Stayed at Royal Davui for the 2nd leg. More of a R&R type of place, but competely different scale than Paradise. Resort is on a private island just off Beqa. Only thing on the island is the resort and there are 15 burres. If you want Fiji pampering at its best, go there. Unbelievable.
Thanks for the report, shutsal and congrats on the honeymoon! I just returned from 10 days in Taveuni, diving the Rainbow Reef everyday. Would be interested in your thoughts about how Paradise's house reef and Venu Reef compare to the Rainbow Reef.
Rainbow Reef was much superior overall. Venu reef was ok. Reef is covered in crown of thorns and wasn't nearly as colorful as Rainbow. The house reef also had some crown of thorn problems and wasn't nearly as colorful, but it had great muck diving (blue ribbon eels, octopus, nudibranches, lobster, etc). You go to Fiji for the soft corals and Rainbow Reef hands down wins that battle. One thing that did surprise me about Rainbow is the complete lack of turtles and rays. We saw a few very skittish turtles, but no sting rays or eagle rays.
Thanks shutsal. I agree with your observation about the lack of turtles and rays. We saw no turtles in 16 dives, and only on one dive did the DM say that he saw an eagle ray. Of course, I wasn't looking...Over the years, I could fill a volume of critters that were seen by others on the same dive boat as I was, but not by by me. LOL. Anyway, I would definitely give up a few turtles and rays for what we saw on Rainbow...hands down.