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Dive Review of AquaTrek/The Pearl south Pacific in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Beqa Lagoon

AquaTrek/The Pearl south Pacific, Aug, 2005,

by Sherwood & Judith Smith, WA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 7 reports). Report 2536.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving All over the Indo Pacific and Caribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 81 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Guidelines suggested by divemasters
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We stayed at the Pearl South Pacific, the venue of the 2006 SPUMS (South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society) meeting, and dived with AquaTrek Divers, whose local manager, Derrek, was very helpful and well organized. (He even attended our airway/resuscitation workshop.) Our group of some 50 divers was split among four boats, and logistically things went pretty well. We did two tank dives every morning in Beqa Lagoon. After the first dive, a skiff made the rounds of the various dive boats, picking up empty tanks to begin the refilling process for the next day, - commendable. Dive boats varied from fast aluminum hulls with twin Yamahas, to our vessel, the Scuba Queen, a slow comfortable wooden craft with an inboard diesel, which gave us more leisurely voyages across the lagoon. We really liked the large stern swim platform. We also made up for the lack of speed with power and seaworthiness, when we towed in a disabled fishing vessel, with a good sea running, on our last dive day.

Boatmen and divemasters did a good job with dive briefings and diver retrieval. We had three Fijian divers in the water with us on every dive, ready and willing to point out small critters to all interested. Or we dived in our own teams, seeking our own discoveries. The crew accommodated us in lengthening the surface intervals to keep our computers happy. Most dive sites consisted of single or clustered bommies in 75 ft. or less of water, and topping out at 15-30 ft. Most of the action was on the sides or tops of the coral, with occasional views of pelagics at depth. Visibility averaged 40-60 ft. Marine life was varied, but little was new or fascinating, other than the octopus with a 24+ inch span, who emerged from a hole in the coral in front of the two of us, and put on a 15 minute color-and-shape changing show, until we ran out of bottom time.

One day was occupied with a two-tank shark dive. I am not generally in favor of feeding sharks, but this particular one was recommended, so I went. The action was unbelievable! Taking photographs of that melée of fish, in water quite turbid from food particulate, was difficult; my best photographs were taken by turning my back on the action, and getting up close and personal with a pair of large silvertip sharks, cruising just behind and above the group of spectators, as they circled back toward the food. As we were ascending after the second dive, a medium-sized tiger shark cruised through the site.

We had dived many of these sites early in a 1990 liveaboard trip on the Pacific Nomad; we remember being underwhelmed by the topography of Beqa Lagoon, and that the diving among the outer islands was better. We had the same reaction this time around; fortunately we had arranged our second week on the north coast, diving in the Bligh Water.

The Pearl South Pacific Resort is located at Pacific Harbor, an almost three hour drive from Nadi. It is a three-storey hotel, imaginatively appointed in the public areas, with some rooms recently refurbished, and others awaiting such. Rooms were large, well air conditioned, with comfortable beds. Breakfasts were a cold buffet of fruit, cereals, breads, rolls, toast, and yogurt, and we even ventured to try Vegemite on our toast. Staff were most accommodating. Dinners for the conference group were served either buffet-style around the pool, or indoors in the formal dining room with white tablecloths, and were generally of very good quality. We ate post-dive lunches every day at Kumarans Indian Restaurant, across the main road from the resort, and not to be missed. Its right next door to the Shell Station, which is actually a market and liquor store. Other nearby attractions include the Fijian Cultural Center, worth a 10 minute walk.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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