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The Great Fiji Dive Adventure

 

The Great Fiji Dive Adventure
 
Introduction    
 
Once again I'm trying to be all things to all people. I'm trying to design a dive trip to Fiji which provides inexpensive diving students can afford, as well as an up market resort where you can get drinks with umbrellas - and hot showers!
 
I've come up with the following itinerary. I’ll take students to dive with Mike Agnew, based at Waisalima www.waisalimafiji.com on the island of Kadavu and then move on to the up market Dive Kadavu www.divekadavu.com on August 4. For those of you who went on the Belize trip you will remember that Mike Agnew is a dive instructor as well as being a boat captain and an ex-British army Captain. He also has a mail order pastor certification from some obscure US bible college so his full title is Captain Captain Reverend Mike.  He is also one of my best friends. You will be able to choose between a seven-day or a ten-day stay at Dive Kadavu.

 Quick pronunciation lesson, Kadavu is pronounced Kandavu as the d in Fijian is pronounced as if it is nd which is why Nadi airport is pronounced Nandi Airport … confused?
 
The Waisalima package includes dormitory accommodation, all meals and ten dives with Mike, operating as Viti Water Sports. We hope to climb the highest mountain in Kadavu (Mt Washington 3700’ or so) on the first day and actually overnight on the mountain. I haven't yet figured out what to do with you if you don't want to go mountaineering.
 
The Dive Kadavu (Matana Beach Resort) packages include 10 dives (seven-day stay) and 16 dives (ten-day stay). I know that a few of the diehards (Shannon Mayes for one) are considering the entire package, 26 dives minimum and 18 days in Fiji.
 

Fiji 

Fiji is a stunningly beautiful independent island nation approximately 10 hours flying time from the US. The national language is English (as well as Fijian). As you cross the dateline flying there you lose a day so you arrive two days after you leave the US. When you return, you arrive on the same day you left Fiji but several hours earlier (it can be confusing)
 
There has recently been a military coup there but this poses no dangers to visitors.  I can attest to the safety of visitors to Fiji during a military coup.  I was in Suva, Fiji's capital, during the last military coup.  This current coup is responsible for these amazingly reasonable prices.
 
The island of Kadavu is Fiji's fourth largest island and is well off the beaten track.  It will require an additional flight in a puddle-jumper after arrival in Fiji. Voltage is normally 230 volts AC so you'll need converters. There is a recompression chamber in Suva but it is far enough away that any decompression illness will require a difficult transfer.  For this reason, I would strongly recommend some sort of dive insurance such as DAN - Divers Alert Network.
 

Fijians are amongst the nicest people on the planet and I guarantee you will fall in love with both the place and its people

 

 
What you'll see   

Village life and customs. The chance to sample kava, the Fijian ceremonial drink and drink of choice in the evenings (we'll probably drink Fiji Bitter or Fiji Gold ...). Parrots and lorikeets, fruit bats and lizards and land crabs. Not to mention some of Fiji's best diving. You can expect good viz ... typically 100 feet or more, great hard corals and a plethora of fishes including blue ribbon eels, lionfish, scorpionfish, pipefish, anemone (clown) fish and squadrons of basslets. While Fiji is considered the soft coral capital of the world my understanding is that Kadavu, despite good soft corals, is better known for its hard corals. When I dived there with Mike last year I saw some of the biggest plate corals I've ever seen as well as spectacular 200-foot visibility (this is not an exaggeration).

 

Here's a collection of Fijian wildife photos

Crested iguana
Fiji tree frog
Red breasted musk parrot
Collared lory
Leaf Scorpionfish
Freckled hawkfish
Flatworm
Lionfishes
Anemone fish
Blue Christmas tree worm
Sea star detail
Flowery cod
Squat lobster in crinoid
Mantis shrimp
Brittle star
Blue ribbon eel

 

Diving

Likely to be on the cool side (78?). I dive with a 5/3 full suit and often get cold towards the end of a dive. I'd recommend a hood if you have one. I will require everyone to have some sort of emergency signaling device ... a safety sausage will be mandatory.

Most dive sites are close to the resort but we may visit sites that are up to an hour away. If you get seasick you'll need to take appropriate medication.

While most dives will be suitable for beginners it is possible there will be some current dives (it brings out the best soft coral). I won't inflict a current dive on new divers until they are deemed competent to cope.

Dive Kadavu has limited rental equipment which is outrageously expensive. Mike has some gear to rent at around $20 a day.

Weather

This is the Fijian winter. We could get days of strong southeast trades which will make the ocean choppy and access to dive sites uncomfortable. But we are just as likely to get days of beautiful sunny weather. Night time temperatures could drop as low as 68 with daytime highs in the mid to upper 80s. A light weight sweater is definitely recommended.

Packing list

Old time Fiji dive hand, Shannon Mayes, has put together a packing list. You can access this by clicking here. Thanks Shannon.

 

Mike and the largest plate coral I've ever seen

The soft corals are pretty good too!

Dive group on beach at Waisalima

View of the Waisalima Bay Area

 

Carbon credits

For the first time ever my trips are “going green”. The trip cost includes a charge for purchasing carbon dioxide credits to cover the carbon produced getting to and from Fiji. While the efficacy of these is questioned it is a step in the right direction.  I will buy offsets for the carbon dioxide produced by the flights and by the compressor and outboards. This will probably involve helping to finance a wind farm. For more information on carbon credits please check out www.treehugger.com/files/2006/03/survey_of_carbo.php
 

Cost

Price includes round trip airfare from LAX to Fiji and the round trip flight to Kadavu, all accommodation, meals (except when staying in Nadi prior to return) - and diving. It does not include excess luggage from Nadi to Kadavu (and return) nor does it include gear hire, alcohol or tips. It does include a day room for those returning after the Waisalima trip and overnight accommodation for those visiting Dive Kadavu. You are responsible for your own travel to and from Los Angeles International Airport.

 

Package
Cost
Dates
8 days Mt Washington/Waisalima  
$2200
Depart July 26 return Aug 4
7 days Dive Kadavu only    
$2500
Depart Aug 2 return Aug 12
10 days Dive Kadavu  
$2900
Depart Aug 2 return Aug 15
Waisalima & 7 days Dive Kadavu  
$3200
Depart July 26 return Aug 12
Waisalima & 10 days Dive Kadavu 
$3700
Depart July 26 return Aug 15

For non-diver rates ask Paddy. On the 7 day package it saves $300.

I need an initial deposit of $200 as soon as possible. This is refundable up until March 31. Please make checks payable to Ryan Photographic and post to
 
Paddy Ryan
Ryan Photographic
2802 East 132nd Circle
Thornton, CO 80241
 
I will only send a receipt if you specifically request one.
 
I’ll need another $1000 by the end of April (to purchase airfares and lock in good rates) with the balance due by the end of May.
Unfortunately no academic credits are available for students who come on the trip. It may be possible to arrange independent study for Mines students.
 
My expertise   

I've lived in Fiji for a total of nearly 15 years. While I don’t speak Fijian I know Fiji better than most US based tour guides and I wrote the most comprehensive work on Fiji nature. My book Fiji’s Natural Heritage is available for $34.95 for those of you who want to learn about the place ( www.pacificislandbooks.com/fnature.htm ). My Snorkeller’s Guide to the Coral Reef is available at $20.00  www.pacificislandbooks.com/nature.htm .

Here's what Sir David Attenborough had to say about Fiji's Natural Heritage:

"A superb - and most importantly - a comprehensive survey of all aspects of the rich natural world of Fiji. This is the sort of guide that anyone with curiosity about the land, the plants and animals around them is constantly seeking, and so rarely finds. It's a book that will, I am sure, be constantly consulted and treasured."

 

 
I am a competent underwater photographer and have sold photos all over the world. I recently sold a fish shot to National Geographic (Spain). Everyone who participates will receive a trip DVD which will include high resolution photos of the trip as well as a trip screensaver. You can check out my photos at www.ryanphotographic.com
 
I particularly recommend www.ryanphotographic.com/cartfishes.htm
 
Please feel free to contact me about the trip. The Waisalima section is restricted to fifteen divers and we will only take 20 for the Dive Kadavu section. There is the option of renting an upmarket house close to Waisalima for folk who want to have more luxurious accommodation.

Here's a view of Waisalima from the ocean.

Seafans at Waisalima

Hope you can join me. It's going to be a brilliant trip.

 

Dive Trip Bios

I included brief bios of several of the trip participants. This will give you the chance to get to know each other a little better before we leave. Click here.

Fun Stuff

Some recent diving related miscellenia. Click here.

Cheers and beers,

Paddy

Next year New Guinea!

 

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