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Dive Review of AquaTrek/Garden Island in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Taveuni

April, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Peter J Maerz, FL, USA
Report Number 577
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas, Bonaire, Dominica, Guadaloupe, Guanaja, Little Cayman, St. Lucia,
St. Vincent, plus over 100 dives in Southeast Florida, where I live
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No Deco diving.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
While there is no camera rinse tank on board the boat, the crew does
everything in its power to protect and gently handle cameras. As a digital
photographer, I can't comment on film processing. I brought my laptop which
I felt totally safe leaving in the room and a battery charger which worked
fine with a good quality transformer and outlet adapter.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
5 stars    
     My 10-hour direct flight to Fiji on a musty, cramped Air Pacific 747
would have been a breeze since it was less than half-booked, but for the
fact that I opted for an exit row seat. Yes, it allowed for 5 feet of leg
room but the seatbacks were rigid! By the time I was ready to head off to
sleep and noticed this, the center section was filled with passengers lying
across the seats asleep. Be warned!
    After watching the sun come up at Nandi airport, by now fully
renovated, I grabbed my Sun Air flight to Taveuni. It's a visually stunning
flight with one stop in gorgeous SavuSavu. Once on Taveuni, the
"airport transfer" is about a half-hour trip down a beautiful
coastal road to the Garden Island Resort. As I stepped into the
"lobby", I was greeted by a view out through the open air dining
terrace that took my breath away. Beyond the resort pool was an expanse of
gleaming blue water and then the lush mountains of southern Vanua Levu
beyond. No beach there, mind you, but the view never ceased to fill me with
wonder and pleasure during my stay. 
     From the moment I walked in to reception to the time I left, every
clerk, server, maintenance person and dive operation employee greeted me by
name at each meeting and usually enquired as to how I was enjoying my stay.
I found Fijians in general to be the most welcoming, genuinely friendly,
happy and loving folks I've EVER come across in my travels.
      The rooms at the Garden Island are basic motel quality but more than
adequate: a separate table and two chairs, a desk perfect for working on
camera or laptop, LOADS of storage space in big open, bin-like shelves, the
same fantastic views as from the dining terrace, nice porches, fairly large
bathrooms with powerful showers. It's a short walk from most of the rooms
to the AquaTrek dive shop, itself just a couple of feet from the boat
ramp/dock. From there you're dinghyed to the AquaTrek dive boats,
all-aluminum with plenty of room to gear up and a one-person size platform
for stride entries.  From day one, all gear is handled, set up and
THOROUGHLY cleaned and stored by the crew. There are separate rinse tanks
for cameras, masks, and wetsuits (this tank with sanitizing detergent).
Again, everything is rinsed by the crew, including wetsuits. These are hung
up to dry in the shop which, though locked up overnight, is well ventilated
enough to thoroughly dry the suits. Booties are stored on mesh racks and
dry well also. Plenty of water on board and cookies and fruit for surface
Trips to the dive sites run, on average, about 20 minutes, the longest,
maybe 40 minutes. The diving in the Somosomo strait: just incredible. This
was my first Pacific experience, my previous diving limited to the
Caribbean, though I've dived almost all the islands there and down into
Central America's Atlantic side. So, much of the fish life was new to me.
Regardless, the density, profusion, color and variety of both fish life and
corals was mind-blowing! As advertised, soft corals are draped almost
everywhere. They come in every color of the rainbow and some that would be
hard to find on any artist's pallette. Among and around them, clouds of
basletts, damsels and other small fish hang in the current.
Lionfish--common. Titan triggers--plenty. Nudibranchs---ranging from 2
inches to literally the size of a doormat! Coral trout, the beautiful Regal
Angel, wrasses, ghost pipefish...just look in a pacific Reef Fish book and
you'll find them all in the strait. Vis was great, but, as many have
mentioned, look out for the currents! It's in these currents that most of
the "action" is: those fish and soft corals just hover
imotionless in the breeze sucking down nutrients. But we mortals must try
to negotiate sometimes mild and sometimes absolutely ripping currents by
descending or swimming behind an outcropping or the pinnacle itself,
finning like mad or sometimes just grabbing on to something (dead of
     All the dives are expertly and consciensciously guided, however, and
these guys (just one woman DM who didn't dive with us) know these waters,
tides and currents. They try to choose sites where the current is strong
enough to bring out the good stuff without sending their divers to
Australia. And they know where to find that good stuff as well. They're
certainly not breathing down your neck; you're pretty much free to dive
your own dive, but they're there if you need them and want them and they
offer very good pre-dive briefings as well. Favorite Dives: Annie's Bommie,
Blue Ribbon (yes, the eel awaits you), the fabled Great WHite Wall. 
Liesurely, hour-long surface intervals are taken on spectacular, Robinson
Crusoe islands, usually deserted, with vast thatches of soaring palms,
dense undergrowth and pristine white sand coves with plenty of shade in
which to escape the soldering iron sun. 
     Dock departures are between 8:30 and 9:00am and you're generally back
on shore by 1:30 or so, plenty of time to make it to the terrace for lunch.
Food at the Garden Island, as has been reported before, is plentiful. I
must say, though, that, to my pallette, the food was not so hot. Lots of
gloppy sauces, cheese and a fair amount of oil.  The Breakfast buffet opens
at 7:00am. Don't order a cooked breakfast unless you want to risk having to
rush to make the dive boat. Fiji time, as in many island cultures, is
s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d o-u-t.
   Don't miss the hike to the natural "waterslide". If you go on
a Sunday, you'll meet dozens of extremely friendly local folks who'll
invite you to "ride" with them. It's a blast!! ENJOY!


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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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