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Dive Review of Nai'a Fiji in
Fiji and Tuvalu

May, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Mel Cundiff, CO, US
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports)
Report Number 6162
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
On all the major coral reefs in the world
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
83   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 90    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Great set up for U/W photographers
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
4 stars    
Fiji / Naia Synopsis  May 2011

Fiji has the reputation of having some of the best soft coral reefs in the
world.  When I was there 
diving in Taveuni in 1997 I wasnt overly excited about the reefs and found
the lack of hard corals 
to be disappointing.  Diving the Bligh Waters this May on the Naia
( was unquestionably better, and diving that itinerary on
the Naia makes a combination hard to beat for experiencing the best of the
Fijian reefs.  These reefs represent an excellent cross-section of the
beauty and diversity of healthy coral and they are much more accessible
from the USA than PNG and Indonesia.  Many of the sea mounts/pinnacles had
beautiful and diverse hard corals on their upper 30 ft. including their
tops which were often less than 10 ft. below the surface.  Overall, there
was less rubble in these areas indicating a lack of recent storm damage. 
We saw a healthy number of pelagics in the form of sharks, trevallys,
mackerels, tuna and barracudas; but as a measure of reef diversity, the
most excitement elicited by the dive masters was when they found a leaf
scorpionfish  a half dozen were seen on the trip.  I would point out that
I saw a larger diversity and number of sea cucumbers on this trip than I
have seen in other locations; but overall, among all reef organisms, I saw
less than a dozen species that I hadnt remembered as seeing previously. 
As can be said about Fiji and almost all other reefs in a comparative way 
It is not Indonesia!  Indonesian reefs are significantly more diverse
with both soft and hard corals and all the critters and fishes associated
with them.  

Having previously been on about 30 live aboards, I found the Naia to be
one of the best-equipped and most comfortable dive boats.  It has cabin
space for 18 divers with a crew of 11.  Via mug shots taken of us the first
day they quickly learned to call us all by name.  All diving was from two
zodiacs and with 16 of us on board with two non-divers, it operated very
comfortably for the 4-5 dives we could take each day starting at 7 am.  We
traveled west to east and back across the archipelago of the Fijian Bligh
Waters and the Naia was very stable.  We were fortunate to have very good
weather.  There was always one dive master with each zodiac, rotating
between Sam, the head dive master, and Bridgette and Mo (Moses).  They were
all competent and familiar with the reefs but neither of them was an active
hustler, energetically finding new critters for us.

We were free to dive our own profiles and about half of us used Nitrox,
which ended up being comped because we had a full charter.  Unlike most
other boats, the dive deck and camera areas were large and forward of the
mid deck.  Except for our masks and fins our dive gear stayed on the stern
deck where crew filled tanks and off- and on-loaded them from the zodiacs. 
Dive sites were seldom more than ten minutes away, and each zodiac visited
a separate site, generally exchanging sites with the other on the next
dive.  Currents were typically moderate to brisk as one expects on diverse
reefs since the currents are bringing in the plankton on which the corals
are feeding.  The visibility ranged from 30-90 feet, and the temperature
ranged from 83 to 86 degrees F.  Entering the zodiac after a dive was
difficult for someone who was heavy and/or out of shape.  After their tanks
were removed, he/she needed help in being pulled into the boat.  There was
a ladder that could be deployed on the stern area, but it wasnt regularly
used.  Dusk dives in the early evening before dinner appeared to be the
preferred routine of the dive staff and supporting this from the mess,
generous amounts of wine were served at dinner.  The staff seemed somewhat
surprised that so many of us preferred night dives and at our request after
the third day a fifth/night dive was added to our daily routine.

The accommodations in the salon and cabins were spacious and first class,
and while the salon was not air conditioned, it directly connected via
stairs to the air conditioned cabins below, and the cool air from that area
kept the upper deck quite comfortable during the whole cruise.  The sun
deck would have been more comfortable and usable had part of it been
shaded.  While there were ample quantities of eloquently presented food, in
my opinion it was mediocre at best and not as tasty as I have experienced
on other dive boats.  

During the course of our cruise we did a land-based visit to Makogi
village, which was hosting a conservation student overseeing a giant clam
mariculture project.  Besides being educated about this program we were
entertained into the evening by a number traditional Fijian dances and a
kava ceremony.  During a previous evening on the ship the crew had hosted a
kava ceremony with a Fijian songfest.

On almost all occasions when Sam was diving with us and during many of our
activities both on and off the boat, he was videoing us with a
high-definition camera which he had recently purchased with his own funds. 
On the last day of our trip he announced that for $60 we could purchase a
DVD copy of the trip with the money going toward the purchase of his
camera.  Having suspected early on that he might be putting together such a
DVD and without mention of a cost, I guessed that this might be a perk that
the Naia was providing for each of us.  When I confronted him about a
possible conflict of interest of his using dive master time on the boat for
his personal gain, he reminded me that one of the other dive masters was
always in the water with us.  While that may have been true, his services
as a dive master were compromised by the distraction of his filming.  The
DVD he produced was of high quality and in line with the cost of those
produced on other boats by a person dedicated for that duty.

In spite of the fact that the Naia was a bit pricy, I wouldnt hesitate to
recommend it for diving on some of the best coral reefs in Fiji.

Mel Cundiff,  Broomfield, Colorado				8/06/2011
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Diving Guide to Fiji and Tuvalu
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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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