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

August, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Mark Rohde, AZ, USA (1 report)
Report Number 4275
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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

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy  
calm, choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
78   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
depth limits, otherwise dives were limited only by air supply (tanks nearly
always filled to 3000+)  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
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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