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Dive Review of Aqua Trek/Garden Island Resort in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Taveuni

Aqua Trek/Garden Island Resort, Oct, 2006,

by Michael Judd, OR, USA . Report 3059.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving [Unspecified]
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas currents
Water Temp 76 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 60 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Various depth limits, mostly 60 - 80 feet. Usually nothing said about time or minimum psi.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

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

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The island itself if lovely, even in the largely gray weather we had. People and their development are just a fringe between the green mountains and the blue water. The advertising message that everyone is friendly is largely true.
Garden Island Resort was OK, but not great. The rooms were a typical good-sized motel room, and the AC worked. They were well cleaned without fail every morning while we were out diving. One of those important little details: they give you fresh soap, but you have to bring your own shampoo. All have a patio or balcony with a view across the Somosomo Strait to another island. The grounds are well planted and maintained. One of the large trees is a fruit bat dormitory. Watching these large (appx. three foot wind span) mammals fly like birds, coming and going in the daytime, was fascinating. The food was mediocre, but there aren't a lot of options in the neighborhood. You do get a number of choices of which type of mediocre food you want. There was an unpleasant little surprise at checkout, when the bill for items not in our pre-paid package included about $40 for meals, the times we ordered the "hot breakfast" rather than the "continental breakfast". This was news to me, and I pointed out to the desk clerk that their voucher and other materials said "three meals a day", without limitation, but got nowhere. Not a big deal, but irritating.
The diving in this "Rainbow Reef" area is excellent. Given the location of Garden Island, the longest boat trip was no more than 20 minutes. There is a wide variety of soft corals in the full palette of colors. We didn't see a lot of big stuff (half dozen sharks, a few mid-size Napoleon wrasse), but the smaller tropical reef fish were abundant. If you like angelfish and butterflies, this is the place. They hang around with lots of anemonefish, plus a number of scorpionfish and lionfish. My personal highlight was seeing my first blue ribbon eel ..... and my second, and third and fourth and fifth. The visibility wasn't great, but never low enough to feel like a problem. There was at least some current on most dives; sometimes it was enough to require some extra work and attention, but never a major concern. Overall, a great place to dive.
Unfortunately, the Aqua Trek dive operation was another matter. On the plus side, they were a pleasant fun bunch of guys. Unfortunately, they were also rather disorganized and careless. It was nice that the crew set up our BCs and regs on the tank for every dive, but on four dives out of eleven my strap was not tight enough to hold the tank in place. Twice when I opened the tank valve the o-ring was leaking - it would be nice if that was checked when the reg is hooked up. The biggest "oh-oh" was finding out that they had set me up for the second dive on a tank with 200 (yes, two hundred) psi. Pre-dive instructions were short and not very informative. A typical briefing: "They is Jack's Point. There's nice coral here. The reef is over there. The current in fairly strong and running this way. Keep the reef on your right shoulder and follow the dive leader." Then we rolled back into the water one at a time, as the boat and the divers drifted apart. Not surprisingly, we had instances where the divers were separated at both the beginning and end of dives. It didn't get to the point where anybody was in imminent danger of taking an unplanned trip to New Zealand, but more information and organization would definitely help.
One final recommendation: the Lavena coastal walk is worth doing. It's three miles of well constructed pathway, mostly along the ocean shore until the last half mile, when it heads inland to a beautiful falls. The last hundred metres is over slippery rock along the small river, but there's a rope to assist; at the top you swim and wade to a pool at the foot of a double waterfall. This "fifty-something" made the trek without too much huffing and puffing, and can certify that the path is easily negotiable even in a deluge.
Summation: Taveuni - YES; Garden Island Resort/Aqua-Trek - NO.
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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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