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Dive Review of Garden Island Resort in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Taveuni

Garden Island Resort, Aug, 2008,

by Mark Rohde, AZ, USA ( 1 report). Report 4275.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Cuba, Belize, St. Martin, Dominica, Roatan, Riviera Maya-cenotes, Lake Mead, Monterey-CA, San Diego Coast, Channel Islands, San Carlos (MX) & LaPaz (MX)
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 78 to 79 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions depth limits, otherwise dives were limited only by air supply (tanks nearly always filled to 3000+)
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Fresh water tanks on the boats for cameras were supplied after we requested them and a fresh water tank was always available at the dive center. Cameras were not said to be available for rent at the dive center, nor was film processing available nearby. There was plenty of great subject matter for photographers and videographers, but the currents and surge (sometimes at the same time), made framing shots challenging at times.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Garden Island Resort has 30 rooms facing the sea and lovely, well-maintained grounds with a variety of flowering plants. Each room has either a balcony or a patio and comes equipped with a ceiling fan and a small refrigerator. The resort was very clean, the beds were comfortable, the furniture was in very good condition, and the decor was attractive. Our group had some minor challenges with the air-conditioning and the plumbing, but the problems were either corrected immediately or the divers were moved to another room. The dining room and lounge are open to the swimming pool, the sea, and majestic sunsets. The resort is nice as-is, but we were advised that the entire facility will soon be undergoing extensive remodeling.

Apparently a new chef had taken the reins in the kitchen several weeks before our arrival. The food served was the best food Ive ever eaten in an all-inclusive dive resort. We enjoyed a superb bar-b-que one night and had another excellent evening meal devoted to traditional Fijian food. On the night that Fijian food was served, the staff of the resort put on a Meke Dance performance that was very entertaining. The divemasters, maids, kitchen help, and servers performing the Meke seemed to be having a really good time and they were very willing to share their culture.

The overwhelming majority of the staff at Garden Island are excellent. Many of them knew our names by the second day of our stay and often greeted us with a hearty Bula . . . (fill in the name)! Bula is the traditional Fijian word for Hello and you hear it when you come into a store, walk on the street, or enter the dive center. This is a very friendly country. Apparently the former owner had offered free diving/instruction to the resort staff and this helped to foster a special connection to the patrons of Garden Island. Two members of our group finished their open water dives at the resort after completing class and pool instruction at Ultimate Dive & Travel (Arizona) and both students commented on the positive qualities of the resorts instructor.

The Somosomo Straits a.k.a. Rainbow Reef are at the doorstep of the Garden Island Resort. Their reputation as the Soft Coral Capital of the World is well deserved and the diving here was nothing short of spectacular. While the soft corals were the most amazing part of our diving, we also saw sharks on nearly every dive, spotted a few lionfish, Moorish Idol, unicornfish, many clownfish, a couple of sea snakes, eels, a turtle, many different kinds of angels & butterflyfish, and more damselfish, anthias, and other little critters than you can imagine. The reef is healthy and the dive staff work to keep it that way. Most of the dive sites are within twenty-five minutes of the resort and surface intervals are conducted at a white sandy beach that could easily have been featured in a magazine layout.

The divemasters provided a briefing that included suggested depth limits, but allowed divers to largely dive their own profiles. They paid some additional attention to divers with more limited experience.

The two 12-13 passenger dive boats are fast and have relatively new outboard engines, but the boats themselves are aging and need some repairs that are said to be planned for the coming weeks. The ladders on the boats are the worst that Ive ever encountered and the platforms at the back of the boats have a metal tube running across the deck that must be stepped over before entering the water.

We arrived about five weeks after Aqua-Trek completed the sale of the resort and dive center to investors based in Hong Kong (Chi International?). On the positive side, the new management worked hard to correct problems with our rooms, arrange tours, and improve the food. On the negative side, they were clear that the new ownership would not allow them to honor the pricing that had been quoted when we contracted with Aqua-Trek to come to Garden Island. Neither Aqua-Trek nor the new ownership notified us that a sale had taken place until after we arrived. We found that the pricing for things like night dives, an extra day of diving, and an open water referral had jumped by as much as 50%. A extra day of 2-tank diving cost us US$126 at current exchange rates. Groups considering the Garden Island Resort would be well advised to determine the price of every activity that they are considering prior to signing the contract - get it in writing and bring the email with you. Dont hesitate to contact me if additional information Garden Island would be useful. Mark Rohde
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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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