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

Beqa Lagoon Resort, Feb, 2012,

by Wayne Johnson, GA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports). Report 6450.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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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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