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

February, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Wayne Johnson, GA, US
Reviewer   (4 reports)
Report Number 6450
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Carribbean (multiple locations), Hawaii (multiple trips)
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, rainy  
Seas
calm, surge  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
20   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
no  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dive in groups, warn DM at 1000 PSI remaining, 3 min safety stop  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
no 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
1 or 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Comments
There was only a small rinse tank on the boat and no shore support.  Many
larger video rigs wouldn't fit in the tank.
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
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  
Snorkeling
4 stars  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
Beginners
3 stars   
Advanced
3 stars    
Comments  
     We traveled with a group from our dive shop and will give as fair a
report as possible.  My overall summary would be that if you are from the
US East Coast and like the Carribbean, don't waste the time if quality
diving is your first priority.  You can have the same experience only 3
hours flying time from ATL.  If you like a little rustic adventure with
your dive trip, you may like it.    Here is the detailed version:
     It is a 10 hour flight from LAX to Nadi and Air Pacific will not let
you check in online if you travel in a group, leaving your seating options
something akin to winning the lottery.  The redeye from LAX seemed brutal
when we were about to leave but it turned out to be a nice way to get there
in the early morning due to the time zone/international date line changes. 

     Upon landing and clearing customs (easy) we were corraled and put on
an air conditioned charter bus for the 2.5hr ride.  We stopped about
halfway at a tourist shop called Jack's where we were welcomed, given
Fijian coffee, and allowed to use the rest room and browse.  The crew
weren't hard sellers but they were persistent if you showed interest in
anything.  We bought our souvenirs there and shipped them from the store
via DHL.  Salesh was very helpful in getting that done.  Souvenirs take
about 18 business days to get back home and shipping was about $175 USD for
10 pounds of merchandise.
      When we arrived at the dock to board the boat to the resort, we again
had the opportunity to use the bathroom (very 3d world, hold your breath)
before loading our baggage and bodies on boats for the 40+ minute boat ride
to the resort.  We were too bleary-eyed to remember to put on sunscreen and
just about every one of us got a sunburn on the ride over.  Have sun screen
handy in your carry on when you get off the bus.
      As we got to the resort, we transfered into smaller boats for the
ride to shore.  We were sung to by the staff as we landed, wading in ankle
deep water to shore.  That was a nice touch.  Mark, the Aussie manager
gives a 20 minute brief about the resort that we tried but failed to pay
attention to because of the travel.  We never touched our luggage, it was
delivered to our burre for us.  By this time it is nearly 1:00 PM Fijian
time on Saturday (keep in mind you leave LAX on a Thursday night).  We hung
around to eat lunch and fill out our menu cards for the day.
      Accomodations are more than adequate at the resort.  Burres have
working A/C, King-sized beds and a sitting area.  Ask for burres 1-7 as
they are on the ocean side with a hammock and a hot tub.  Other options are
farther back in the resort with lilly pad pools.  Turn down service was
given every night and burres were always clean when we returned from
diving.  Bring a converter for low cycle Australian 240v current and a
power strip to charge your electronics.
      While the accommodations were comfortable, the resort is showing age.
 The main building where the office, bar, and meal areas are needs
attendion to the roof.  It is looking bare and in poor repair.  The pool is
a negative edge pool but the levels fluctuated throughout the week, with
algae growing on the stones.  It needs to be flocked and shocked to get it
back to pristine condition.
      While the trip was sold as all-inclusive, there must have been a
miscommunication regarding non-alcoholic drinks.  If you wanted soft
drinks, you have to pay separately for them (everything went to a room
charge, no cash changes hands on the resort).  Each day there was a menu
slip and daily food choices waiting at breakfast.  Seating was by groups
that came together.  There were plenty of fish, chicken and vegetarian
choices, and a few days had beef (stay clear of the hamburger!) and pork
options.  Breakfast was eggs cooked to order and either pancakes or French
toast.  You could get sliced ham on request.
      The spa was world class.  We went twice during the week getting  jet
lag massage and then a 90-minute treat two days later.  the accomodations
are stunningly set by the sea and the therapists are excellent.  They have
a treatment for sunburn derived from a local plant called Dilo that really
saved me from the pain of the sunburn I got from the boat ride over.  We
carried some home because it works better than aloe.  The spa manager is
always happy to see you and they treat you very well.  All in all, if you
have non-divers in your group (we had a couple), there are plenty of things
to do at the resort between activities, the spa, and lounging at the pool.
      Now for the diving, my primary reason for this vacation.  One of the
things that attracted me to this trip was the 5 days of 2-tank boat dives
and unlimited shore diving.  In my head, that felt like Bonaire and I hoped
to be able to shore dive in the afternoons to see the most underwater. 
There is only one shore dive available which was really disappointing.  You
have to surface swim about 1/4 mile to get to water deep enough to dive. 
There is a coral head there at 18 feet with plenty of tropical fish.  If
you continue out to the marker, it gets to 26 feet.  The vis on the surface
was horrible due to runoff but cleared at depth.  
      The boat diving operation was mediocre in logisitcs.  When you
arrive, there is a mesh bag in your room that you put your regulator,
boots, mask, etc. in and carry to the dive office behind the main building
mentioned earlier.  Once you do the optional check dive, they tell you that
all of your stuff will be on the boat in the AM and all you have to bring
is a dry bag and wetsuit.  This sounded good but there were issues daily,
whether it was missing weight, a glove, mask, etc. you had to be on your
toes in the morning and do a mad dash to locate all your gear.  There is no
Nitrox on the island and after a week of diving I could tell the
difference.  We were on Firewalker with another dive group and it was
crowded.  We had to don gear with a person in every other spot because
there wasn't enough space between rigs.  At the dive sites, we were split
into three groups without taking into consideration experience or air
consumption, something we asked them to fix after the first dive, which
they accomodated.  The steam to dive sites was usually 40+ minutes.  Once
we got the experience and air consumption lined up, we were allowed to dive
our tanks as long as we were with a dive master.  Our group usually had 70
minute dives which was definitely a plus compared to some of the Hawaii
dives we have been on.  Cookies, bread (wonderful banana nut and poppyseed)
was served with juice and small cups of water at surface intervals.  The
trip came with 5 days of diving and some groups had their "off
day" in the middle of the week so plan accordingly.  The options were:
shark dive, night dive, or another 2 tank dive (at an extra expense).  We
did the shark dive and night dive.  The shark dive was a 2-tank dive where
they corral you at 80 ft (much like the manta ray dive in Hawaii), lower a
chum bucket, and let the sharks at it.  There were nurse sharks, lemon
sharks, and more than a couple big bull sharks.  The sea was alive with
shark activity and remoras.  The second dive is at 60 ft with the same M.O.
 The night dive was good.  Make sure you have the DM take you to a
"good" spot even if you have to leave the resort at 5:00 PM.  One
group went to a close location and didn't enjoy themselves.  Our dive
leader kept that from happening to us.  Marine life was abundant in the
tropical fish variety and even though it was advertised as the soft coral
capital of the world, we saw mostly hard corals.  I did see magic coral,
which changes color when disturbed.  There are a few sites with swim
throughs and chimneys like Ceasar's Rock and E.T. (extra treat) but they
are current dependent.  We encountered current on both of those dives and
some less experienced divers panicked a bit.  Joeli did a great job keeping
the group together and getting them back on the boat.  Expect current of
some sort every day.
      There were maintenance issues throughout the week like the starter
motor going out on Firewalker, resulting in a long tow back to the resort
and rescheduling our night dive.  Then the compressor went out and we were
limited to only one tank dive the net day.  Expect something to happen. 
Mark was gracious and made accomodations for the disturbance but they
happened too ofter for my taste.
      Overall, it was definitely an adventure but I don't think I will go
back due to a few reasons:
1.  The dive operations were mediocre at best.  The people were very
friendly and helped you with issues but I believe the issues could have
been avoided.  Maybe they had on off week.
2.  I have seen better diving with vis, temps, pelagics and corals in
places that were much easier to get to.
3.  I felt nickel and dimed to death; if I wanted a soft drink or cookie,
etc.  I understand that booze woudl be extra but the only free drink was
water (tap water, you had to pay for bottled).  I would have paid extra up
front to not have to worry about it.
4.  No nitrox after a week takes its toll and is readily available in most
other locations.
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