I had always steered away from diving Fiji.
I thought that Fiji was the destination of families that wanted cheap holidays and not much more, I never really considered it as a true Dive destination. I suppose that Fiji Travel has done a fantastic job marketing to families but the job of marketing to adventure travellers has been left to individual Dive Stores in Fiji and our preferred Dive travel specialists.
Early May, 2015 I decided to head over there with a small group of wonderful divers to check things out. Some of them , unlike me, had been there numerous times before and loved the place, mainly for the relaxed way of life and the friendliness and openness of the people.
I flew over a few days before I met up with my group at Nadi as I had been invited to check out a resort on the Sun Coast (called that because it is dryer than the Coral Coast and the grass on the hills glows a beautiful reddish colour in the sun) called VoliVoli, about a 2 and a half hour drive North from Nadi airport. This is what I mean about the dive shop and resorts taking it upon themselves to do the marketing.
I was met at Nadi airport by a very friendly and welcoming group of Fijians and given a lovely shell lei as a welcoming gift.
My transfer to VoliVoli was in a comfy 4WD with a knowledgeable driver who answered all my questions about Fijian culture and history, I experienced a beautiful Fijian Sunset on the way(who doesn’t like a great sunset?) and the driver was only too happy to pullover to let me take photos. I saw Mongoose running across the road, I had NO idea that Mongoose were in Fiji, apparently they were introduced by the Indians to manage rats in the cane fields, unfortunately they have decimated harmless native snake species.
Upon arrival to VoliVoli, I was welcomed by extremely friendly staff who all seemed to know my name and got me very quickly settled into my accommodation. Dinner was fabulous freshly caught Wahoo with local veg, delicious.
The weather was not great, but I was assured that I would be diving the next day (they have over 80 dive sites to choose from, so regardless of the weather, they can dive, and they are looking for a suitable site for a new shark feeding station) and that a massage had been booked for me late afternoon upon my return, Off to a great start!!
All the rooms at VoliVoli have stunning ocean views and are surrounded by beautiful lush gardens. The site I was greeted with when I stepped onto my private deck the next morning was stunning, it was a little rainy but this only added to the beauty and ambience and made the gardens look even lusher.
I headed to the dive centre, a short distance on foot, it was on the waterfront, and was I impressed with the construction going on building a new dive centre, equipped with undercover BBQ and entertainment facilities, separate toilet and showerfacilities for men women and staff, huge filling bay for new nitrox compressors , keeping in mind that the wood work (including construction and the stunning furniture in all the rooms) is sourced from the property and hand built, the construction work is quite impressive.
Due to the strong wind forecast, we were limited to dive sites close to shore, while they were lovely they were not mind blowing, and I have been told by previous divers to this area that some of VoliVoli’s dive sites are world class, so I will be heading back there to find out for myself. The dive staff on board the boat were knowledgeable, very accommodating and helpful.
After a delicious lunch of beef strips and spicy salad I arrived at the fabulous day spa, situated above the dive centre area on a hill top to catch the wonderful sea breezes, to be greeted by what turned out to be, one of the best masseuses I have encountered, lying on the cloud like massage table, with lush towels, sheer billowing white curtains,soothing sea breezes and a stunning view, I was in massage heaven. I am told that this location was hand picked by Steve senior as the perfect spot to relax and unwind. Well, he nailed it.
After another wonderful evening meal, I hit the sack listening to the soft rain and was lulled to sleep, thinking of the next part of my Fijian journey.
I awoke to a lovely sunny morning and after a breakfast of chilli omelette (hot hot hot, wheww) and great coffee, did I mention that it is impossible to get a bad coffee in Fifi?, I had booked another massage,couldn’t resit it, before a quick tour of the resort.
After saying goodbye to the family and staff at VoliVoli, I stepped into the 4WD for the journey back to NADI to meet the rest of my group and continue on South to Pacific Harbour on the Coral Coast.
We stopped for some lunch at one of the local restaurants in Lautoka for a spicy chicken and rice meal, fabulous, generous serve and cheap, if you get the opportunity to eat at some of the local eateries, do it, much better value than the main resorts and, I think, infinitely better flavours.
I arrived at NADI International, relaxed and well fed to meet the group and jumped aboard a comfortable mini bus to head to Pacific Harbour and the Uprising Resort , our home for the rest of the stay.
Uprising Resort is run and operated solely by local people, it is situated on the beach and offers a wide range of accommodation to suit anyone’s taste. We lucked out and scored a free upgrade to an ocean front bure with a fabulous outdoor shower.
The staff welcome at the resort is so wonderful after the flight and the bus journey,you instantly feel like you are home which means it is easy to relax and accept that things run on Island time.
The weather had not improved much and the first day of diving was cancelled, no one really minded as it gave us the opportunity to check out some local shops and eateries as well as catch up on some snooze time. One of our favourite places to eat for the time we were there was the Oasis, fabulous curries,home made roti, huge servings and the best Dhal you have EVER had. ( they gave me the recipe, yipee)
The weather gods were with us the next day and we headed out to do a double dive on some coral sites, again the wind kept us away from the better sites, don’t get me wrong, to me any dive is a good dive, but I can’t help but wonder what the seven sisters had to offer.
Despite the weather, our group had a fantastic day ( Devocean Dive is blessed with a wonderful dive club, very chilled people who all just really love to dive and experience whatever comes their way, makes my job very enviable)
Of course, after a hot shower, we were off to our favourite Oasis restaurant for a wonderful curry.
Next morning, everyone was excited to be heading out to experience the world famous Shark dive with Aqua Trek.
A dive brief and we jumped onto the dive boat for the short ride out to the feeding site.. we geared up in a nano second and with a spectacular giant stride and a flick of our fins , descended onto the dive site.
We all gather along the small rock wall, very close to the action and it begins, sharks appear from everywhere infront, behind , on top, it is awesome, Silver tips shoot through us and over us, taking the offered food a few inches from us,and the best thing? It’s a double dive, we get to do it all again! The bull sharks are massive, the biggest I have ever encountered, I am impressed. They are hesitant, almost shy, and take quite a few pass bys before they take the tuna head offered to them, they have a bad rapp the old bull sharks, I have dived with loads of them and have always found them to be quite shy, hesitant and very beautiful.
I Highly recommend this experience to anyone, even a DSD, and highly recommend Aqua Trek at Pacific Harbour.
Our last night in Pacific Harbour see us again at our fav curry house, the food was better than ever, and we headed back to the resort for a few last night drinks. The Uprising Resort is beautiful and takes on a magical quality at night with Tiki Torches flickering all around, thatched roofs and the moon glistening on the ocean.
The day we depart, I awake early and hit the beach to take some photos, it is the first opportunity I had had to do this, it was a stunning day and I had a ball, local puppy dogs came down to say hi and get a cuddle, the palm trees and coconuts fringed the blue blue sky setting up wonderful shots, gorgeous driftwood scattered the beach and the warm water lapped at my ankles as I strolled along thoroughly enjoying my time on the edge of the Coral Coast.
Time running out, I headed back to my room and enjoyed my last outdoor shower before heading up to the restaurant for a freshly made omelette (minus the chilli!!).
After checkout and sad goodbyes with our Fijian family we boarded our private mini bus to Nadi, on our way we, stopped at Sigatoka to purchase some carvings from Local carvers and check out the huge outdoor markets. Doesn’t take long to do this and if you have a local, knowledgeable driver, you will only go to the good local shops, not the ones selling Chinese souvenirs. and pick up some lovely wood work to take home with you.
NADI International airport departure lounge is not uncomfortable and has quite a good choice of food and beverages to keep you happy prior to your departure, it doesn’t seem like anytime at all and we are back in beautiful QLD, our Fijian holiday already a dream.