The South Pacific breezes brush over the island nation, while beneath the waves, divers will find soft-coral life that's second to none and explodes with colour; the Great Astrolabe Reef is well-named, since it's one of the largest in the world One of the gems of the South Pacific, Fiji is actually made up of 333 islands, mostly uninhabited. There's so much beautiful scenery on shore that sometimes it's easy to forget that Fijian waters are also home to some of the best diving in the Pacific. Fiji sells itself as the “soft-coral capital of the world.” The corals are perhaps best-known in the Somosomo Strait, which runs between Taveuni Island and Vanua Levu, Fiji's secondlargest island. The coral blooms are particularly impressive at sites like Rainbow Reef when the currents cooperate. Visitors will normally start their trip on Viti Levu, the largest island, which houses both the international airport at Nadi, and Suva, the capital. Though there is decent diving around the main island, avid divers will likely want to move on to less-populated spots, home to Fiji's signature dive sites. Beqa Island and Beqa Lagoon are just south of Viti Levu, making it a popular destination for travellers that want to avoid a domestic flight. The lagoon covers more than 100 square miles, with 30 kilometres of fringing protective reef, leaving around 100 dive sites to dive. The area is known for its pinnacles and bommies, as well as the occasional wreck. Both Viti Levu and Beqa have world-famous shark dives, where divers can watch trained staffers hand-feeding reef sharks, big bull sharks and even the occasional tiger shark. The Great Astrolabe Reef surrounds Kadavu Island, the fourth-largest in the chain. The 100-kilometre reef, itself the fourth-biggest in the world, is cut with many channels leading from the deep ocean into shallow lagoons, which brings in pelagics like sharks, tuna and marlin. There's a great chance of spying eagle rays at Eagle Rock. Kadavu is a break from the big resorts, with a focus on eco-friendly tourism and local culture, and several dive resorts. Given the distance between the different islands in Fiji, a liveaboard is the way to go for avid divers who want to reach the more far-flung spots. They explore the Bligh Water between the two main islands, and the Koro Sea to their east. Those reefs are often swept by strong currents, meaning these are more advanced dives, but the currents bring in barracuda, rays, and white-tip and grey-reef sharks at sites such as Shark Fin Point.
Garden Island Resort • Fiji Aggressor • Fiji Siren