Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
Join Undercurrent on Facebook
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes

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

August, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by James Castanino, DC, US
Reviewer   (6 reports)
Report Number 6668
Subscribers: Submit Your Reader Report Here
Subscribe Now Questions?
Subscribers can send this reviewer an email directly from here.
Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
All over Caribbean, Indonesia, Philippines, New England (US).
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, currents  
Water Temp
77   to 78    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
1 stars
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
5 stars   
4 stars    
We spent almost two weeks in Fiji, at both Garden Island (Taveuni) and
Wananavu Resort(Raki Raki on Viti Levu, Bligh Waters). 

Diving at both locations was excellent, quality of dive operations was
dramatically different with Garden Island rating poorly.

We chose Garden Island on Taveuni primarily because it is the closest hotel
to Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Strait. 

I will comment separately on the hotel and the dive operations, which in
our view were of different service standards. 

First, the hotel. Overall solid accommodations and incredibly nice,
friendly staff. The rooms are updated and quite comfortable. We stayed in a
"spa" room which is on the ground level, with a nice patio
overlooking the strait. The kitchen staff does a good job, especially
considering the relatively remote location. Staff, especially in the
restaurant, went out of their way to learn our names, preferences, etc. 

Hotel is in a beautiful location, right on the water, and watching sunset
every day is a highlight. There is no beach but there is a pool and a nice
sandy area with lounge chairs. 

The hotel was pretty quiet while we there. This was a good thing, because
our impression was that, due to the layout of the rooms (all in one
building) and limited size of the restaurant, it would have felt quite
crowded if the place had been full. 

We spent a day hiking the Lavena coastal walk and the waterfalls at Bouma,
both highly recommended (although we felt this outing was significantly
overpriced at Garden Island, especially when we saw pricing for similar
outings at Wananavu, a nicer overall resort).

The diving. In terms of location and access to Rainbow Reef, no question
Garden Island is ideally located and we dove there every single day (15
minute boat ride to most sites). Surface interval either on beautiful beach
or on the boat. Typically back for lunch around 1pm. Diving conditions
ranged from dead calm with no current to a bit choppy with fairly strong
currents, which were more challenging for my dive partner as a new diver. 

Reefs very healthy, beautiful soft corals (make sure to dive Great White
Wall) and amazing variety of small tropic fish especially in the shallower
areas, nudibranchs, other small critters. White tip sharks on every dive,
but aside from a single turtle over 10 dives, no "big" stuff
(Zero rays, no pelagic fish. We got the sense at both Taveuni and Wananavu
that the big stuff in Fiji has been fished pretty hard).

The dive operation at Garden Island was a real disappointment, and due to
the way this is managed I doubt we would return. 
-DM's could hardly be bothered to interact with divers. Boat was not full,
max day was 6 divers. One DM in particular, with whom we dove all week,
seemed annoyed to have to dive at all. Not the vibe you want on a
-Operation is advertised as "full service," which is a joke. I
had to change my own tank several times. Staff couldn't be bothered to help
my girlfriend off the boat with her gear, despite fact that we were often
the only divers on the boat. Instead, I did it myself. Thanks, guys...  
-Several instances of inadequate safety and inadequate attention to proper
dive procedures: 
No oxygen on boat. 
Nitrox tanks being used for air. 
Tanks repeatedly coming loose on the boat with regulators landing on the
deck. O-rings on tanks had to be changed literally every day. 
DM insisted that my dive partner, a new diver, insert 12 lbs weight zipped
into her BC pockets (not a weight-integrated BCD) because they forgot to
bring a weight belt from the dock (of course they don't keep any extras on
the boat...). I insisted they make the 5 minute trip to the dock to get a
belt and they were annoyed. 
Never had a proper briefing re safety procedures. We were not confident
that the staff had any idea what to do in case of emergency or were
properly trained. 

I rated this operation a "1" for environmental sensitivity for
the following specific reasons:
-One two occasions, DM's grabbed puffer fish and made them inflate to show
the divers. This is stressful for the fish and not appropriate.
-DM squeezed a sea cucumber until its guts came out. Literally.

These were two different DM's and neither seemed to have any sense that
this is unacceptable behavior. Worse, the hotel manager was present and
witnessed both events and seemed entertained. I mean, REALLY??? I truly
regret that I didn't say anything at the time.

Also concerning: The hotel manger (mentioned above) was on our boat for two
days of diving. This person is recently-certified (less than 10 dives),
having just moved to Fiji. The manager seemed to have absolutely no idea
that anything was wrong with the operation (how could he, it's the only
operation he has known!). One has to wonder what is going on here... 

Bottom line: In terms of diving, you have to decide whether the trade off
in terms of location and access to Rainbow Reef is worth dealing with the
Garden Island dive op. I say probably not, especially if your group is
less-experienced. I have read other, positive reviews of this operations,
and perhaps we were unlucky, etc., but I don't think that is the case.
Other divers shared our concerns and the problems here seem to be systemic.
I have seen many dive operations and this one just does not make the
Was this report helpful?
Bookmark and Share

Subscriber's Comments

By tara fankhauser in HI, US at Sep 25, 2012 22:22 EST  
They must have the save DMs they did 14 years ago!  Incredibly rude, not
basic diving courtesy....and I got the same, "get in the boat
yourself" attitude.
At lunch, and during the donning periods, the staff could not be bothered
speak with us.
Leave a comment (Subscribers only -- 200 words max)

Subscribe Now
Subscribers can post comments, ask the reviewer questions, as well as getting immediate and complete access to ALL 339 dive reviews of Fiji and Tuvalu and all other dive destinations. Complete access to all issues and Chapbooks is also included.

Bookmark and Share

Other dive reports on Garden Island Resort

All Fiji and Tuvalu Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Fiji and Tuvalu
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

Featured Links from Our Sponsors
Interested in becoming a sponsor?
Reef & Rainforest, Let our experience be your guide -- Reef and Rainforest
Reef & Rainforest
is an agency for travelers that scuba dive. Experience Astrolabe Reef, soft coral, friendly people, kava ceremonies, tropical islands. Let us plan your adventure to Fiji.
Scuba Dive Asia -- The Dive Travel Experts
SCUBA DIVE ASIA - The Dive Travel Experts
for Asia, Pacific & Africa. Dive vacations for individuals, groups, photo clubs & dive centers.

Want to assemble your own collection of Fiji and Tuvalu reports in one place?
Use the Mini Chapbook Facility to create your personalized collection.

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.

Want to get more articles like these and
other important scuba updates sent monthly to your email?
And a FREE Recent Issue of Undercurrent

Free Undercurrent Issue
Get our free monthly Online Update, and a sample issue!

Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account |
| Travel Index | Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Forums | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues | Login | Join | Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |

Copyright © 1996-2017 Undercurrent (
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.