Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, halfway between Vanuatu and Tonga, Fiji is a stunning archipelago consisting of 332 islands and 522 islets. It’s also a world famous scuba diving destination, and no wonder.
The majority of Fiji’s islands have volcanic origin (which is important as we will come to later), whilst the sea bottom surrounding these islands impressed even legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. At one point he gave Fiji the name “Soft Coral Capital of the World”, a name that remains very much alive and is a reason for pride in the country.
This fame, along with documentaries showing the beauty of its waters, has contributed to Fiji’s reputation as the ultimate diving destination. It’s a place where everyone should dive at least once in their lifetime.
We know this country well, and below we show you exactly why you should visit too. We will share with you what you will find when diving in Fiji, when’s the best time to dive, the best dive spots in the country, as well as other information for your vacation.
So dive on in to begin your Fiji diving adventure!
Scuba Diving in Fiji: An Incomparable Dive Destination
For divers and snorkelers alike, Fiji is a world-famous destination offering breathtaking underwater views and special encounters with spectacular marine life.
The crystal-clear waters surrounding these islands are rich in nutrients thanks to their volcanic origin sea bottom. That offers nutrition to numerous species of marine animals, many of which come specifically to these waters to feed, breed and get a good clean-up.
The strong currents of the outer reefs also bring nutrient rich waters from miles away, attracting, in turn, some of the most diverse oceanic species.
Fiji really is an underwater naturalist’s dream, as all of those environmental factors have created a rich and diverse diving region with over 390 coral species and about 1200 fish species
Diving in Fiji: What You Should Expect to See
Fiji’s waters are visited by many of the animals that populate every diver’s dream and bucket list. Expect opportunities to see bull and tiger sharks, wahoos, humpback whales, manta rays and whale sharks.
Scuba diving in Fiji is often accompanied by memorable encounters with many species of sharks, such as bull sharks, reef sharks, leopard sharks and hammerhead sharks. If you are after bull and tiger sharks, head to the Beqa Lagoon for some real shark action! Other marine species commonly seen in these rich waters include tuna, barracuda, rays, eels and sea snakes, and macro like cribs, squids, mantis shrimps and many nudibranchs.
The coral here is very special too. The colorful scenery created by the multitude of soft corals in Fiji is simply unmatched and can put anyone in the best mood! These alcyonacea (soft coral) bend in the currents creating a view that is similar to a ballerina’s gown following her precise and musical movements. Fish are then attracted to that movement, and swim and swirl around them with the same rhythm. It’s beautiful.
These sea fingers, sea whips, xenia, dendronephthya and sea rods are bright and vibrant, and give a touch of color to the underwater scene as an impressionist painter does on their canvas. In Fiji they can be yellow, pink, green, light blue or even totally white, as some soft corals do not present the zooxanthellae that give corals their specific color.
But the corals in Fiji are not only soft. While scuba diving in Fiji, you may even spot a baby white tip reef shark hiding underneath a wide acropora or table coral, or again a turtle rubbing its shell against a formation of orbicella.
Hard corals are numerous in the best dive sites in Fiji (we share those below) too, and contribute to the healthy and colorful background. They also give shelter to many sea animals and make for unforgettable dive footage.
What you may see also depends on the time of year you visit. That’s something we look at further down in this article too.
The Top 5 Dive Sites in Fiji
Selecting a handful of special dive sites not to be missed while scuba diving in Fiji is not an easy task. The number of dive sites is very high and the beauty of these reefs really is incomparable.
With that in mind, here is our top 5 dive sites in Fiji. We think they truly offer the best diving in Fiji experience:
1. Shark Reef Marine Reserve
Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Beqa Lagoon is without a doubt the number 1 dive area in Fiji. This marine reserve is the reason why Fiji is known as “The Best Shark Diving Location in the World”.
This picturesque lagoon, situated just south of Viti Levu, caters to every diver level and type, with over 100 dive sites including a shipwreck and the famous Cathedral dive site – going here basically guarantees you will encounter several shark species!
2. Yasawa Islands
These stunning islands have dozens of dive sites set on a a dazzling volcanic background, including the world-famous Barefoot Manta Island where divers have a very high chance of meeting manta rays between April and October.
At this time of the year, these gentle giants enjoy swimming through the northern channel here to feed, giving divers the perfect chance to catch a glimpse of their magnificence.
3. Namena Marine Reserve
South of Savusavu, this reserve offers some secluded dive spots that are relatively unexplored and extremely exciting.
The marine life and biodiversity here is at its best, and Namena is on the migration route for several species of whales and dolphins. With most dive sites here being fairly deep, it is recommended for divers with an Advanced level certification and some current experience.
4. Bligh Waters
Situated in the Koro Sea, Bligh Waters will probably be appreciated at its best during a liveaboard vacation. This area offers about 30 known dive sites, most of which, like Nigal Passage, are affected by strong currents and require some preparation and experience.
The sensational drift dive along the deep trench offers views of many sharks, including occasional hammerhead sharks.
Another memorable dive in the Bligh Waters area is the E-6 dive site, where a huge pinnacle rises from an incredible depth of over 2950 feet to the surface. It’s home to barracudas, trevally, rays and hammerheads.
5. Kadavu Island
This island is another secret jewel of Fiji, where the coral formations are gigantic and extremely healthy.
This tropical paradise is topped by the presence of the renowned Great Astrolabe Reef, the fourth largest barrier reef in the world. Here, soft corals cover huge pinnacles where mantas love getting cleaned up. The steep walls are often visited by many different shark species, including hammerhead, leopard, grey reef and bull sharks.
When Should You Travel to Fiji and What Will You See?
With its tropical climate, Fiji has a hot and humid rainy season from December to April, and a cooler dry season ranging from June to October. The months of November and April are considered transitional months between the two main seasons, and are considered by many as the best times to visit for scuba diving in Fiji.
However, different islands might experience different climates. In general, the rainy season offers lower visibility but warmer waters, and it often comes along with the hurricane and cyclone season. On the other hand, the dry season has clear water and visibility – up to 100 feet – but it can be quite windy and the water can be a little cooler.
While sharks, turtles and dolphins can be seen in Fiji at all times of the year, other animals are mostly seasonal. The best time for manta rays is December to May, straight into the rainy season. While if it’s humpback whales you’re after, you will prefer the dry months from June to October.
Whenever you decide to visit these stunning reefs, we are sure you will experience some great scuba diving in Fiji!
Fiji also has lots to offer out of the water too, with rainforests, waterfalls, stunning natural landscapes, and incredibly friendly people. It’s a land of traditions, good food, exotic vegetation – an actual dream come true!
Vacationing in Fiji: Information for Your Trip
Flights to Fiji are popular; however, most US airports will require a layover or connecting flight to get to the islands. Fiji Airways is Fiji’s flag carrier, while American Airlines is the only company that offers direct flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Nadi in Fiji. A tourist visa is not required for U.S. citizens to enter Fiji, you can simply enter with a valid U.S. passport. Different regulations apply to non-U.S. citizens.
Once you land at Nadi International Airport, private transfers, taxis, buses and boat rides will take you to the resort of your choice and the best diving in Fiji. Seaplane transfers are available as well, ideal for the farthest destinations such as the Mamanucas and Yasawa Islands.
The seaplanes represent not only a fast and convenient choice but also an amazing chance to experience the breathtaking views of Fiji’s islands from the sky, observing the outline of their underwater reefs and the lush rainforests covering these exotic islands.
Where to stay when visiting Fiji? The archipelago offers plenty of accommodation options, especially luxury hotels and resorts. On the other hand, low-cost accommodations are not very numerous, but while bed and breakfast or hostels are not commonly available, some low budget hotels do exist.
For a romantic getaway, Fiji is a perfect option and is chosen by many honeymooners. If you do come here with your loved one expect the ultimate romantic vacation with water sport activities, exceptional diving and a dreamy holiday that’ll create memories for a lifetime.