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Dive Review of Fiji Island Dancer in
Fiji and Tuvalu

Fiji Island Dancer, May, 2011,

by Kathryn S Roberts, FL, US ( 2 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 6120.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Florida and all over the Caribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy, currents, no currents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
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 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Island Dancer II Fiji, May 28-June 4, 2011

Eight members of the Orlando Reef Divers dive club, seven from Florida and one from Ohio, made the long trek to Fiji for a week of diving on the Island Dancer II liveaboard. We chose late May since Fijis rainy season typically ends in April. We arrived in Fiji on Thursday, May 26, and were greeted by heavy rain that day and the next. We learned that it had been raining non-stop for 2 weeks, so wondered if climate change was going to impact our trip. Fortunately the sun came out on Saturday morning as we left the Lami Bay Marina where the Dancer is docked, and the sun stayed with us pretty much throughout the week.

We dove off of the east side of the main island, Viti Levu, and went as far north as the Bligh Waters. We also dove off of Gau, Makogai, and Wakaya. The diving was good, with reefs, walls, the ever popular E-6, and a fabulous shark feeding dive. Some of the sites had a pretty stiff current, but others had no or very little current. The soft corals were beautiful. The reefs for the most part were alive with lots and lots of small fish, but we didnt see many larger fish (the locals are just beginning to act on their understanding that they need to better manage their fishing grounds). We saw only a few grouper and a couple of sharks (other than on the shark feeding dive where there were several dozen reef sharks and three very well fed grouper). A couple of turtles were also spotted during the week. We also visited a Fijian village on the island of Makogai on Wednesday night, and were welcomed by the villagers and their Chief with a Kava ceremony followed by singing and dancing. The villagers are involved in a pilot effort to restore the giant clam population around their island, and have many troughs with clams at different stages of maturity. Once the clams reach a certain size, the villagers transfer them to the lagoons and bays around the island.

The boat itself was quite comfortable, the cabins roomy, and the food delicious. (A few hooks in the en-suite bathrooms would be a nice addition, for hanging swimsuits in the shower. A few more hangers in the closets would also be helpful we only had 4 in ours.) Tanks and fins stayed on the dive deck at the stern of the boat, right at the water line. Masks, wetsuits, and cameras stayed up on the main deck, where the dive briefings were given. While it was a bit crowded when everyone was on the dive deck, the seas were fairly calm so it was easy to get into your gear with the help of the crew, turn around, and fall backwards into the water or a giant stride also worked very well. (The boat is considering moving the tank holders up to the main deck, which would provide more room and be out of any inclement weather. We endorsed that idea.) We also did a few dives off of the chase boat, usually drift dives that took us back to the Dancer. The camera table accommodated 7 cameras without being crowded, and charging stations were set up with 110 VAC power strips. The cabins and salon were 220 VAC with Australian plugs.

The crew was tremendous. Capt. Joji has been a liveaboard captain in Fiji for many years, and knows the waters well. Ditto for divemaster Mosese, with 16+ years as a divemaster in Fiji, most of them on this boat when it was part of the Aggressor fleet. He knows the dive sites like the back of his hand, and was great at spotting tiny nudibranchs, shrimps, and reef critters. Two of our group were doing REEF fish surveys, and Mosese was a great help in identifying fish that were not easily found in the fish ID books. Peni was our cook, or chef to be more accurate, and we were very well fed. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, salads every day, fresh fish fresh as in caught by Peni the night before. Cold breakfast, hot breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner every day. Engineer Clinton kept the engines humming and filled the tanks between dives, and steward Adam kept the food coming, kept the cabins tidy, and helped out on the dive deck. Yes, 5 crew for 8 guests. Pretty nice.

The crew was also very accommodating. When we wanted to dive a different site than what was on the agenda, there was no problem. And, we were rewarded by diving a couple of sites that the crew said the Dancer had not been to before, and were not named on any of the charts. So, there is now a dive site called Orlando Reef, and another called Robs Reef. One of our group logged 22 dives, most of the rest of us got 19 or 20. Not too shabby for 5½ days of diving.

We had a very good week, and highly recommend the Island Dancer II if you are planning a dive trip to Fiji. We all spent a few extra days on the island, taking in kayaking, white water river rafting, hiking, more diving, and golfing. Fiji is a beautiful country, very lush and green. It reminded several of us of Dominica. The Fijian people are very friendly, always quick to say Bula and Vanaka (hello and thank you).
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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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