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June 1997 Vol. 23, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Another Fiji Destination

from the June, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Just north of the isle of Taveuni are three small islands, each with a dive resort: Forbes Laucala (pronounced la tha la), Matagi (mah tang ee), and Qamea (ga may ah). While Laucala and Matagi buy space in Skin Diver and other publications, Qamea has ignored the diving market. Too bad, because in February I found a lovely and quaint little resort, devoid of commercialism and accessible to the good diving claimed by the neighboring resorts.

Qamea Beach Club has 11 clean, comfortable, attractive (but no-frill) bures, a lovely great house, beautiful grounds, a terrific staff, and a killer of a kitchen with excellent fresh fish, well-prepared vegetables -- every meal put Cousteau Fiji to shame.

I didn't intend to review Qamea, you see, because my companion was invited to stop in to visit an old friend -- dive instructor Kirwan Louis (full disclosure: while he offered free room, I ended up dropping about $800 for all diving, food, and drinks). A Californian, Louis has been an instructor and avid diver for nearly two decades. He's a skilled and capable leader who runs an efficient operation, had come to know the sites well (after arriving last summer), and led relaxed drift dives. There's something comforting about tagging along with a dive guide sporting a San Francisco '49ers bandanna, even it he has "Yo" written on the bottom of one fin and "Mamma" on the other.

Broken Reef, off toward Matagi, was a long, comfortable drift with lots of typical Fijian fish, several schools of anthias and chromis, lovely hard and soft coral, and a small whitetip in my face. Yellow Wall was in effect three walls, each very interesting, and one partially covered with yellow corals. At Swirling Coconut, five minutes away, I found a couple of amazing shells (which I left), plenty of fish and soft corals, and a small whitetip. This is good, typical Fijian diving, vis 40-80 feet and water 81F.

Qamea has just been purchased by Californian (via Texas) Trey Kiel, who will move his family to Qamea shortly. By phone, he told me that he will add a diving dock (boat loading is now from shore) and a larger boat to reach the famed white wall dived from Taveuni resorts. He told me he will keep the Fijian feel of the resort intact, as well as that fine kitchen crew.

You'll soon read about Qamea in the pages of Skin Diver (and elsewhere) because Kiel is advertising, and with that comes editorial. Meanwhile, you can take my word that this is a lovely little place, a 15-minute boat ride from Taveuni (so it's easy to tour that island, visit waterfalls, etc.), and a very welcome retreat. Rate for 8 days, 7 nights, all meals, 12 dives: $2,159.

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