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Dive Review of Nai'a Cruises Fiji/Nai'a in
Tonga/Ha'apai

September, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Bob & Doris Schaffer, CA, USA
Contributor   (14 reports)
Report Number 4419
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
California, Galapagos, Mexico, PNG, Solomons, Cocos Island, Red Sea,
Thailand, Maldives, Caribbean, Micronesia, Fiji
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
windy, cloudy  
Seas
choppy, surge  
Water Temp
75   to 78    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
5
Water Visibility
15   to 50    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
No diving after drinking alcohol  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
1 or 2 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
None 
Whales
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
Dry, secure, roomy, user-friendly photography room with an abundance of
counter space, shelf space and electrical outlets separate from 
non-photography divers.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
4 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
N/A  
Snorkeling
4 stars  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
2 stars    
Comments  
For eight weeks each year, Nai'a leaves Fiji and goes to Tonga for the
Humpback whale migration from Antarctica when the whales mate or give
birth.  Passengers board the boat in Nuku'alofa, Tonga after which it heads
for the Ha'apai group of islands, an 8-hour crossing.  Most swimming with
whales in Tonga is done out of Vava'u where sightings and encounters must
be shared with a number of boats, so the advantage to being on Nai'a is
that it's the only boat in sight.  Mornings are spent motoring the area
looking for whales; when they are spotted, passengers don wet suits and
snorkel gear and head for the skiffs.  As the skiffs approach the whales,
if the crew determines the whales will hang around, we quietly enter the
water and slowly swim toward them for a good look.  Some encounters last
minutes, others up to an hour while mother whales show off their babes. 
When the whales don't cooperate, we give up and dive on local reefs for an
afternoon and night dive and the next day, we start looking for whales
again. Intermittently, we walked uninhabited islands and visited local
villages. This was our 35th liveaboard trip, 6th trip on Nai'a, our third
whale trip and the last of the season.  We like the boat which is very well
run and probably has the largest crew-to-passenger ratio of any liveaboard
with 14 crew members for 18 guests.  Cabins are spacious and comfortable
with sufficient storage space and nice amenities like plenty of towels
changed daily and a hair dryer.  But there are also some voids such as the
lack of grip bars in the showers, which should be there for safety even
when the boat is at anchor.  Some cabins are more comfortable than others
and this time ours was a bit inconvenient because a light switch and towel
racks were so high that the vertically-challenged one of us had to ask the
other for help to turn on the light or hang a towel. Nai'a offers menu
choices for sit-down meals and complimentary wine and beer at dinner and
the food is outstanding.  The mostly Fijian crew, many of whom have been
with Nai'a for years, obviously like their jobs, go out of their way to
make guests happy and comfortable and entertain in the evenings while they
relax with guitars and song.  Unfortunately, we hit bad weather.  Very
strong winds and rain made the 8-hour crossing to Ha'apai quite rough and
the wind and clouds followed us for the rest of the trip, so we did not
have the quality of whale encounters we experienced on previous trips but
we did see them and several encounters lasted more than a few minutes; but
the very choppy, murky water diminished the ease of swimming with and
photographing the whales. Nevertheless, it was a great trip!  If you're
thinking of booking a whale trip and you don't fly Air New Zealand to
Tonga, try to catch the Air Pacific direct flight from Nadi to Tonga (only
2 days a week) even if it means spending a day or two in a Nuku'alofa hotel
before and after the charter, which is preferable to going to Tonga from
Nadi through Suva which means baggage weight restrictions on a smaller
plane, transferring your luggage yourself and standing in two immigration
lines hoping you'll make the connecting flight!
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Other dive reports on Nai'a

All Tonga Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Tonga
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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