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Dive Review of Aqua-Trek/The Pearl Resort in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Veti Levu - Pacific Harbour

Aqua-Trek/The Pearl Resort, Jun, 2010,

by Mike Cavanaugh, TX, US (Contributor Contributor 12 reports). Report 5559.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Austrailasia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 78 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Dive time
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments The boat was suited for no more than 18-20 divers and there were no provisions for any photography equipment belonging to divers. The boat crew was happy to assist divers with photo or video equipment on and off the boat but there was no place to store the gear between dives

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I will address the resort and the dive outfit separately as they are independent of one another but on the same grounds.

Pearl Resort - The resort was moderately furnished but had all the essentials of home. The A/C worked great. The grounds were very nice and there were many different kinds of plants to see if you explored a little bit. The SPA was easy to book and the services were about a 7 out of 10 ranking. The food was always good and the menu selection was pretty good. There were theme nights so you have to pay attention to the restaurant program. We were asked for bookings but never required one to be seated. Continental breakfast was good with plenty of fruit and non-fruit selections. Cost of food was high but there was little alternative for finding places to eat without additional expense of travelling to another restaurant.

The dive operation was basically a "shark feed" dive which ran 4 days a week. The dive operation ran soft coral dives but cancelled many days because they didn't have the minimum required divers to make the dive run. We were told that our 2 tank soft coral dive was cancelled on the first day but they were willing to double up the next soft coral day and we were offered 4 tank dives. We were only able to complete 3 of the 4 due to fatigue (currents).

I won't go into the ethics of shark feeds but if you want to see lots of sharks Aqua Trek is worth the trip. We dove 2 days (4 dives total) and saw many Bulls, Nurse, Silky & reef sharks. We did not see any tigers. Aqua Trek was very accommodating to me with the underwater video housing and placed me in an optimum position 3 of the 4 dives for shooting video. I have never gotten so close to such large bulls in any other previous shark dives so this was a 10 out of 10 for me. The dive staff was very attentive and helpful and did a fantastic job given the crowded conditions both on the boat and at the dive site. The one day we went on the soft coral dive we were the only two divers and Capt Billy and Joseph treated us like gold.

Nitrox is not available as it has become a financial hassle for the dive shop to maintain for spot request. The nitrox is partial pressure mixed and maintaining the Oxy bottles is problematic for Aqua Trek. Personally I would have preferred to dive with Nitrox as the dives were 80' & 60' respectively and we were on a 3 week dive trip.

The only complaint I have about Aqua Trek is the crowded conditions on the boat (19-20 divers) and the crowded conditions at the shark feed site (2nd boat resulting in 30+ divers). The dives are run like a well oiled machine but there is clearly opportunity for bad things to happen with that many people in the water. There appeared to be some political turf battle between the Aqua Trek and Bega dive boats as well as Aqua Trek and Adventure Divers in Pacific Harbour. Normally I would not make mention of the politics but they were obvious enough to be noticed by many.

The only complaint I have about Fiji is the excess baggage fees levied by Pacific Air on the return trip. We carried all our own dive gear and had 2 bags each. Excess baggage fees were expected but Pacific Air wanted to charge $1000.00 for the 2 excess bags from Nadi to Perth. I pitched a fit to no avail and then demanded to only have my bags checked to Sydney. When I got to Sydney Qantas waived the bag fees to Perth. I won't go back to Fiji because of the excess baggage issues.

Overall I would give the diving experience an 8 out of 10 and would highly recommend Fiji as a place to explore.
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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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