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Fiji Bucket List Destination

Discussion in 'Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands' started by mcohen1021, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. mcohen1021

    mcohen1021 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Princeton, Texas
    670
    291
    63
    I've done some initial research for scuba in Fiji, but could use some help, so I will list all my questions below:

    1. Land based vs Live aboard? We're leaning towards liveaboard.
    2. Fiji Aggressor? Or is there a better one in the same price range?
    3. Master stateroom? Or is the regular room plenty fine for 2?
    4. When is the best visibility:water tempo ratio? I do not want to be cold in 72 deg water, but I do want primo visibility. May? September?
    5. Will the live aboards take you to see the bull sharks?
    6. If the boat leaves on a saturday, what day would I need to leave texas? I would like 1-2 days to rid myself of jet lag.

    Thank you in advance for your advice,

    MC
     
  2. mcohen1021

    mcohen1021 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Princeton, Texas
    670
    291
    63
  3. Hoag

    Hoag Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ontario
    1,257
    911
    113
    I went to Fiji in February 2007. Our group went on the Nai'a Live aboard.

    The logistics were pretty easy. There were several non-stop flights from LAX to Nadi, Fiji. (For me, the best option was Air New Zealand. I am glad that I chose them, the flight was great and compared to typical North American airlines, it was very spacious and comfortable even in economy.) Once in Fiji, our group got a "day room" at an airport hotel to freshen up and relax in until the transport from the Nai'a picked us up. From the airport, it was about a 30 minute drive to the dock.

    Once on the boat, we settled in and soon got underway. The Nai'a has undergone a refit since I was on her, and the cabins look very nice. I think that even for a "Bucket List Trip", you would be able to find one that matches your needs.

    I can't really speak to what the conditions are like in the May - September. I was there in February and there were some wild currents. When I say wild, I don't just mean that they were strong. They also changed direction as we descended. On at least one dive (E6), the Zodiac dropped us off "upstream" of the dive site anticipating a nice easy drift onto the site. The current however had other plans and at about 30 feet it changed direction by about 90 degrees and we were "blown off the site". (Never did get to see E6.) We also had to find a nice sheltered lagoon one night surrounded by mountains after as a cyclone blew overhead. (We were sheltered from the wind, but had a lot of rain that night.

    We did do a shark dive, and there were a lot (25-30) sharks there. They were mostly Grey Reef Sharks, but there might have been a Bull or two in the mix, I honestly don't remember. IIRC, it was at the "Cabbage Patch" so if you are looking specifically for Bull Sharks, you might contact the Nai'a and ask them.

    You wanted to know about when to leave and some of the logistics. I'm not sure where Princeton TX is (I lived in San Angelo for a few years in the late 1980s / early 90s.), but I assume that you will be flying out of either DFW or IAH. From there, your flight will likely connect through LAX for a "red-eye" to Nadi. When I went, the flight out of LAX departed at around 10pm Thursday evening. A couple hours later, it was midnight and now Friday. A few hours after that, we crossed the International Dateline, and it was now Saturday. The flight (which took off from LAX at about 10pm Thursday evening) landed in Nadi Fiji at about 6am Saturday morning. Coming home, the International Date Line will have the opposite effect. I gained back the day that was lost on the way going to Fiji and I landed in LAX "before" I departed Fiji. (In fact, I took the redeye out of Fiji on 10 Feb to LAX and then connected to the redeye from LAX home also on 10 Feb.) This is really just an administrative issue, but it is something that you have to be aware of when booking your flights. If you are hoping to get to Fiji a day or two early, then I would look at departing TX on Tuesday or Wednesday if your schedule has a Saturday departure. I don't know if the Nai'a still picks up at airport hotels, but they did for us when I went.

    Edited to add:
    If you are looking at flying out a few days early to get a head start on the jet-lag recovery, one option (especially if you fly Air New Zealand) would be to book a flight connecting through Aukland or Christchurch and spend a day or two in New Zealand on your way to Fiji.

    I hope that helps a little and that I have given you some insight into how things might play out.

    Have a great trip no matter what you decide to do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  4. RB7

    RB7 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: NJ
    64
    29
    18
    Hi... here are my thoughts based on a trip i made on the Fiji Siren in april this year.

    1. Land based vs Live aboard? We're leaning towards liveaboard.
    -- would recommend liveaboard as well.. preferably one that includes the taveuni island/Rainbow reef area. The Fiji Siren 10 day trip covers it... or you can add a separate land based tavueni island dive side trip if 10 days is too much on a boat.


    2. Fiji Aggressor? Or is there a better one in the same price range?
    Check out the fiji siren .. its a good boat.

    3. Master stateroom? Or is the regular room plenty fine for 2?
    -- cant speak for the aggressor .. but on the Fiji Siren, the regular cabin has plenty of room for 2.

    4. When is the best visibility:water tempo ratio? I do not want to be cold in 72 deg water, but I do want primo visibility. May? September?
    -- cant speak for other months .. in April the water was around 80F ..i did the first 2 dives using a 5mm but then switch to diving using a Rashgaurd and board shorts for the remainder of the trip.
    Visibility on most sites was much lower than what i am used to as compared to Caribbean (Turks & Caicos, Virgin islands, Puerto Rico) or even the Maldives... but it wasn't too bad.. the plus side is the nutrients in the water led to most sites being filled with schools of fish .. i definitely saw much denser fish life in Fiji as compared to the other places i noted above.

    5. Will the live aboards take you to see the bull sharks?
    Fiji Siren does not take you to the place that does the bull shark dives .. they do a shark dive on the nigali passage.. saw 25-30 sharks grey tips mainly with some reef sharks...
    some of the other guests stayed an extra day or two on land to do the bull shark dive.

    6. If the boat leaves on a saturday, what day would I need to leave texas? I would like 1-2 days to rid myself of jet lag.
    i believe you will likely connect via LAX .. i recommend getting there at least a day before the boat leaves so you have some time to recover from jetlag.

    A couple of cons about Fiji Siren in my opinion:
    1. port of departure/arrival is Voli Voli resort which is a 2-3 hour drive from the Nadi airport.. a taxi/private transfer will cost you almost $100 each way. The other option is to take local bus which is approx. $10 total but it takes almost 6 hours and requires a bus change.. not recommended if you have luggage.
    2. I did spot 2-3 roaches in my cabin over the 10 night trip .. nothing major to indicate a roach infestation but other guest also commented encountering a few in their cabins. Noone felt it was a big problem but just want to let you know.
    3. the cruise director was a young Australian guy ..while there was nothing wrong per say i think his personality and demeanor was more suited towards dealing with a much younger college type of crowd rather than on a boat with an avg trip cost >$4000 that usually attracts more mature clients. this was echoed in private by a couple of folks on the boat.. i personally did not get bothered by it.

    On the positive Side:
    1. the boat is a beauty .. and well maintained. Lots of room in the cabins as well as the common areas. The cabins and common areas are all Air conditioned as well.
    2. All cabins had personal TVs and decent collection of movies .. helpful if you are having trouble falling asleep or just want to take a break from diving.
    3. My favorite part - they have a coffee machine with grinder that grinds & brews a fresh cup on demand ! available to use for free at any time of the day.. that was a welcome surprise for me.
    4. the food was good.. nothing to complain. some dishes good, some avg.. maybe 1-2 were bad.
    5. the crew was great .. very helpful and always smiling.. very friendly.. and they all have a lovely singing voice and love to sing.
    6. dive masters were good and helpful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
    doogisar and <*)))>< like this.
  5. runsongas

    runsongas Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: California - Bay Area
    2,820
    942
    113
    the aggressor, naia, and siren do different itineraries that have different pros and cons.

    both the naia and siren do the bligh waters and namena. the aggressor leaves from suva so it does not. the aggressor will hit kadavu and the astrolabe reef though. the siren is able to do taveuni and the white wall on their longer 10 night trips. that area got hit by a typhoon recently so it is still recovering.
     
  6. mcohen1021

    mcohen1021 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Princeton, Texas
    670
    291
    63
    Thank you! Great info… it looks like that’s a 20 ft longer boat than the Fiji aggressor and accommodates more people. I’m spoiled and prefer the smallest group possible wherever I dive. I did like the way the beds were arranged in the staterooms. The aggressor has 4 rooms and takes a max of 10. It may sound spoiled (I know I am) but those 8 people often times means the difference between seeing something and missing it.



    Crazy what you say about the currents. I’ve dived a lot in Cozumel and Texas Flower Gardens, so I think I can relate to ever changing conditions. Thank you again
     
  7. mcohen1021

    mcohen1021 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Princeton, Texas
    670
    291
    63
    THANKS - you just eliminated this as an option.

    If I saw a roach, the boat would be headed back to port as I faked an air embolism. Seriously, I become a martial arts expert at the sign of a roach. :wink:
     
  8. RB7

    RB7 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: NJ
    64
    29
    18
    Update on my observations on the typhoon damage .. the voli-voli resort is fully recovered from the damage and looks pretty good. There are some uninhabhited islands where we could see damaged trees etc from the boat but all the dive sites looked perfectly fine to me .. did not see any broken rubble etc on any of the dive sites... So i don't think the typhoon damage will impact your decision in case of a liveaboard.
     
  9. RB7

    RB7 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: NJ
    64
    29
    18
    understandable .. again to be fair to the boat, this may be an isolated incident on that trip... none of the guests felt it was significant enough to even bring to the crew's attention. If you like the boat in all other aspects, i would strongly recommend that you overlook this item.. you can always ask the crew to spray your room a day before just to be on the safe side :)

    i personally thought the boat and cabins were pretty high class and i would definitely consider the boat again if i decide to go back to Fiji for diving.
     
    mcohen1021 likes this.
  10. RB7

    RB7 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: NJ
    64
    29
    18
    on the Siren - the guests were divided into two groups and each group dove a separate site .. so at most we would only have 7 guests + 1 dive guide on each of the sites. the only time we had all guest at the same site was during the shark dive at nigali passage. not sure how they handle night dives with big groups since on my trip only a handful of guest wanted to do night dives so there were only 6-7 guest + 1 dive guide for the night dives.
     
    mcohen1021 likes this.

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