DIVE | MAMANUCA GROUP • YASAWA GROUP
Fiji's signature soft corals are not so much in evidence in these chains of islands sitting on the northwestern side of the main island of Vita Levu. But this is the area for large pelagics - schooling hammerheads, whale sharks, mantas and dolphins. The Mamanucas are close to the main international airport and are home to Fiji's most popular tourist resorts. The rugged Yasawas are further out and less developed but are home to a few upmarket resorts and some budget ones.
DIVE | MAMANUCA GROUP
The 20 or so islands are just off Vita Levu's west coast and most of the resorts can be reached by a 30 to 90-minute small boat hop from Nadi. Most of the diving is on or near the Malolo Barrier Reef and is generally quite gentle with little swell or strong currents.
This is one of the smaller passages on the inside of the Malolo Barrier Reef. Two bommies make a formation similar to the humps of a camel and both are surrounded by schools of fish including butterflyfish, triggerfish and the batfish which give the site its name. Good site for nudibranch and flatworms.
Several dive centres got together to buy this decommissioned cruise liner to create an artificial reef in 1994 - today it sits upright at 36m and is now well covered with soft corals and anemones. Clouds of silver sweepers infest the cabins.
For more than a decade Apisai Bati has been running a shark feed just north of Mana Island at a site known as the Supermarket. While some might find Api's manhandling of the grey and whitetip reef sharks a bit of a circus, there is no denying that he has a deep bond with the many sharks that regularly turn up. And the site is a great dive in its own rights with coral gardens flush with soft and hard corals.
DIVE | YASAWA GROUP
A 90km chain of some 20 stunning volcanic islands to the northwest of Vitu Levi, unspoilt and remote with coconut palm fringed, white sand beaches. The movie Blue Lagoon was filmed here. A handful of luxury resorts and some backpacking options but no restaurants outside of the hotels, no shops and no banks.
Between the islands of Tavewa and Nacula, this steep wall is washed with nutrient-rich currents and attracts plenty of big stuff - barracuda, Spanish mackerel and plenty of large blacktip and whitetip reef sharks. there are lots of overhangs to explore and a vibrant hard coral garden on the reef top.
Ethel Reef Wreck
The name of this broken-up wreck of a 19th Century steamship, about 14km off Tavewa, remains a mystery. You can identify the propellers, anchors, steam engines and condensers but the hull is scattered and covered with hard corals. The visibility is normally excellent. Great place to spot nudibranchs.
A ledge running around the south side of Yawa Island with a series of ridges running down to 22m. A dramatic backdrop to large schools of fish including convict tangs and other surgeonfish. The surf breaking the cliffs rising from the sea give the site its alternate name Riders on the Storm.