Ocean First in Fiji - New Year’s 18’/19’

Ocean First   Jul 05, 2022

On December 30, twelve Ocean First divers disembarked a plane in Nadi Fiji, ready to spend their final days of 2018 and their first days of 2019 on a South Pacific diving adventure. Voli Voli Beach resort is located on Viti Levu, the biggest island of Fiji, best known by divers as “The Soft Coral Capital of the World.” Scott Griesser, Ocean First’s Director of Training, was the man in charge; read on for his trip report:

After almost 15 hours spent in transit from Denver to Voli Voli, we finally made it to our rooms, ignored our full suitcases, and immediately grabbed our dive gear. The house reef shore dive (less reef, more muck) was the only resort amenity we needed at that moment; the muck diving sights were satisfying if not a test of patience. Persistent and watchful divers could comb over the surface as if looking for a lost contact lens and be rewarded with sights of eraser-sized nudibranchs, shrimp, sea horses, and frogfish. We returned to this site many times throughout our stay, each time with new critter sightings to add to our mental collection.

After a much needed full night of rest, the group boarded the Bligh Explorer, named after Captain William Bligh from the famous Mutiny on the Bounty, for our first day of diving. While Fiji is known as the “The Soft Coral Capital of the World,” a moniker that has given the country a healthy dose of fame, soft coral is only scratching the surface of the technicolor treasures that lie beneath the surface. The butterflyfish, orange-finned anemonefish, stargazers, squat shrimp, pipefish, and nudibranchs were so abundant that you could spend every dive in a 10ft radius and still be begging for more air after your time was up.

Several offshore storms kept the seas high and the visibility low, which meant that our megafauna sitings were kept to a minimum; however, the macro life and reef topography more than made up for the lack of visibility. On day three we were taken to a site called Dolphin Canyon – while we did encounter dolphins en route, the twisting and narrow canyons of the area made it difficult to imagine dolphins occupying the space. But for us divers, the shallow, almost claustrophobic and incredibly gorgeous topography evoked the feeling of swimming through a sandstone slot canyon in Utah, but with walls that had been taken over by hard and soft coral. Watching rays of sunshine play on the walls of color is a sight I will not soon forget.

This trip report would be incomplete without mentioning the sheer kindness of the Fijian people. It was almost impossible to be greeted by a Fijian without a warm smile, a friendly handshake, and open arms. Several of us took the opportunity to visit a Fijian village, an experience I highly recommend. This is also a great time to purchase some hand made crafts by the people of the village, but be ready to share a shell of Kava with the chief!

There’s something incredibly inspirational about starting a new year special, surrounded by good people doing the sport that you love. I hope you spent your new year with a similar sentiment and maybe we’ll see you on a trip with us soon!