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Dive Review of Beqa Lagoon Resort in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Beqa Lagoon

Beqa Lagoon Resort, Aug, 2005,

by eric multhaup, CA, USA . Report 1901.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 26-50 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 74 to 75 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 100 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 110 feet first dive, 60 feet second dive, flexible
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Beqa Lagoon Resort

The dive operation and the resort are integrated on the island of Beqa (Ben-ga), a 45 minute boat ride from Pacific Harbor on the main island of Viti Levu. Beqa is the largest of several islands within the Beqa Lagoon, protected by a barrier reef many miles in circumference. The resort is situated on a small bay, with about 25 rooms spread among the grounds and palm trees, and a large central dining and entertainment area, all in the Fijian bure style. There are no roads on the island, no stores, and no TV at the resort, so it feels very remote and secluded.

The diving is excellent. August is Fiji winter, with less rain and better underwater visibility, always 100+ feet whether sunny or cloudy. The dive destinations are coral heads sprinkled throughout the many square miles of lagoon, and virtually all are lavishly decorated with soft coral and sea fans. Side Street has the most prolific display of sea fans, and a stunning swim-through. The tropicals are prolific at Circus Circus we were engulfed with what one diver later described as a blizzard of fish. We saw sharks on almost every dive, white tips and black tips on the regular dives, and very large bull sharks as well on the official shark dive. The dive guides were tireless in spotting the lionfish and scorpionfish, as well as the local critters, including the blue ribbon eels, brilliant nudibranchs, Spanish Dancer flatworms. Plenty of free-swimming morays; schools of very large barracuda; many colors of crinoids (feathered sea stars) attached to sea fans. This is all extremely comfortable, and extremely rewarding. The night dives were particularly enjoyable at Pearl Rock, with sharks swimming by, lots of crustaceans, sea pens, and unusual anemones. A separate dive operation in Pacific Harbor on the mainland puts on shark dives in conjunction with the resorts in the area, in which the audience divers descend to 80 feet, line up behind a 10 foot security rope, and the shark guys chum the water with fish offal. Every pelagic fish in the zip code converges, and about half way through the dive the sharks arrive, mostly reef sharks and large bull sharks. A very large tiger shark monopolized the feeding the day before we arrived.

In charge of dive operations is 33 year old Delana, a native Beqan, who runs a very efficient and diver-friendly operation. Upon arrival, each diver is issued an identification number that is duct-taped to a dive bag containing mask, fins, snorkel, and regulator, and also duct-taped to a BCD strap and to a weight belt. Each morning a panga carries the divers about 50 yards to the dive boat, where all equipment has been assembled, with each persons dive bag and weight belt under the seat below their equipment. At the dive site, you put on your wetsuit, etc., sit on the step at the stern, the crew puts your gear on your back and you giant stride in. When you get out, you sit on the same step, the crew takes your gear, changes the tank, and re-positions it at your space. This is billed as catered diving. Groups of five or fewer are accompanied by one dive guide, and six or more by two guides up to a maximum of 12 on the boat. Most divers bring most or all of their equipment. The dive shop has dive equipment to rent, but is primarily used for on-site dive classes. The rental regulators and bcds were perfectly adequate, but the selection of wetsuits was very spotty as far as size and age. As of August, 2005, Joe the resort operations manager has ordered new wetsuits, but we really recommend bringing a wetsuit that really fits you. During Fijian summer, the water temperature reaches the mid to high 80s, so the wetsuit is not an issue.

On land, be prepared for a dramatically simplified life without electronic stimulation. The resort has a generator than provides electricity to the bures. There is a daily afternoon activity sponsored by the resort, which usually involves the nearby Fijian villages. There is a very healthy symbiotic relationship between the resort and the villages, with the resort providing the only steady source of income for the residents, who are otherwise self-sufficient through farming, fishing and hunting. The residents provide exceptionally pleasant and helpful service, make some craft items for sale, and provide high quality musical entertainment at the resort. The Methodist church is the focus of village life, and the church choir sings hymns in Fijian with soaring harmonies never heard in the United States. Some of the choir stand-outs also sing in the Bula Band that performs at the resort restaurant during dinner, and a truly remarkable proportion of the village participates in the music accompanying the childrens dance performance. There is limited hiking on the island, including a sacred waterfall and a challenging climb to the top of the island (only 400 meters elevation but super steep in parts) with spectacular views.

The food is excellent, in large part due to the good judgment of the new owners as of August 2004 in promoting a local Beqan woman to head chef, after she had apprenticed for some years to the fancy European chefs in residence under the prior ownership. Lunch and dinner consist of a choice between a just caught fish dish prepared in a simple but well-conceived manner that would work in any upscale San Francisco seafood restaurant, and a meat alternative, both accompanied by some local vegetables and a rice concoction. Deserts were weighted heavily toward the chocolate end of the spectrum, and were sophisticated and delicious. Breakfast was American, a choice between a well-seasoned egg dish, or a pancake/French toast selection, all with fresh fruit. Bring books, Ipods, board games, etc., as there are no shopping opportunities of that kind on Beqa.
Overall, this is a splendid destination.
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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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