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Dive Review of Dive Fiji/Oneta in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Ono Island

Dive Fiji/Oneta: "Great trip to Southern Fiji", Jul, 2019,

by Dave White, CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 10995 has 2 Helpful votes.

Photos Submitted with this Report

Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

Dive Fiji Boats Dive Fiji Dive Shop at Oneta Resort
White Tip Shark and Hard Corals Vesi Bure

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We have been to Fiji twice before, once to Beqa and once to Taveuni, so we wanted to go to a different part of Fiji. The Astrolabe Reef off Ono Island seemed to fill the bill. The Astrolabe Reef is large, and not much of it has been explored. The only resort currently operating on Ono Island is Oneta. They have good ratings on Trip Advisor, and one review on Undercurrent, rating it as excellent. So we booked two weeks in July for four of us. We were not disappointed. The owners, Americans Liz and Martin ( a TV producer) happened to be at the resort while we were there. They, along with manager Richard, were willing to take on any request or suggestion we had. The entire staff was extremely friendly and cheerful and always willing to help.

The resort is small, with capacity being around 25 or so. Accommodations are in single bedroom Bures or multi room Villas. Showers are outside surrounded by bamboo screens. If you go for the Turtle's Lair, be aware there is a 100 stair climb every time you go to the room. However the view is fantastic. We stayed in Vesi and it was great. We did have a hot water issue that was repaired.

The resort was purchased a few years ago and they are constantly adding improvements. The new dive shop had just opened a few weeks before we arrived. They had just added a slightly larger dive boat, Fiji Dive 2, right before we got there. All of their rental equipment is nearly new and in great condition. The resort operates on a combination of solar power and generator. When we first got there, the batteries would go dead in the wee hours of the morning so there would be no power until they started the generator around 6. Battery LED lanterns are provided. While we were there they brought additional batteries online so that there was no power loss at night and generator use was lessened. We talked to Liz and Martin about their plans for improvements and when completed it should be quite the resort.

The resort was initially a fishing resort and they still cater to this group. They also cater to weddings, honeymooners and just general vacationers, which brings up our one complaint. Because the resort has villas with several bedrooms, they get families with small children. The whole time we were there, there were small children running around being kids and making lots of noise. This may not bother some, but it did us.

The food was excellent, although they don't have a menu and usually one choice for lunch and dinner. If you don't like it, they will make you something else. We suggested they post the day's menu in the morning (breakfast is a buffet), and if someone didn't want what was on the menu, you could arrange for something else beforehand. They started posting the menu and it worked fine. Most of the food was Fijian, with lots of mild curry dishes and lots of fresh fish when there were fishing people at the resort. All beverages except alcohol are included.

The dive operation seems to be just getting ramped up. Their onsite dive operation is "Dive Fiji" and is run by Instructors/Divemasters Sergi and Ali. It is also owned by Martin and Liz, but is run separately. While we paid the resort charges ahead of time, the dive fees (about $95 for a two tank day) are paid at the end of your trip. You pay for the days you dive, not a package where you might lose some paid dive days if the weather is bad.

Sergi and Ali spend days when there are no divers exploring Astrolabe Reef and finding new sites. Astrolabe Reef is an atoll with many miles of reef, with sites both inside and outside the reef. There are dive sites on both sides of Ono Island so if the wind is blowing there is a protected site somewhere. Initially I was disappointed with the soft corals, but once we went to the Blue Wall, that changed. Soft Coral everywhere. The sites on the unprotected north end have the best hard corals I have seen anywhere. There was some surge at one site and strong current at one shallow site (tidal?)

There were lots of small critters for macro photography, however the variety of Nudebranchs was less than other parts of Fiji. I don't know if they aren't there, or the divemasters just couldn't find them. We did see a couple of unusual ones. We saw White Tip and/or Zebra Sharks on just about every dive, sometimes many White Tips on a dive. Turtles were occasionally seen. We saw Dolphins several times on the surface and one Humpback Whale breached right next to the boat. It dove before we could get in the water. There is a Manta feeding site a few minutes from the resort. We saw one on one day, the next day there were many, other days none. We also saw Eagle Rays and Stingrays. There are the usual tropical fish on all the reefs.

There is a reef of sorts offshore of the resort, but it is shallow and most people snorkel on it. We had planned on checking it out, but never made it. No night diving is offered because the boats have to navigate between coral heads and this would be difficult if not impossible at night. There is no dock and you have to wade out to the boats. A short distance at high tide, further at low tide.

The divemasters initially asked us to limit depth to 70' and 50 minutes, although they relaxed this when they saw that we were experienced divers. They did insist on starting up to a 15' safety stop at 700psi. Most of our dives were near 60 minutes with one or two over. We tend to dive at 70' and above so there was no issue. We did drop below this once or twice with no complaints from the divemaster. Fiji does not have a recompression chamber, so if a diver gets bent, it's a long, possibly painful, trip to get relief. Dive conservatively.

There were some beginner divers there at various times and they were put on a separate boat to a different location. The first week the four of us had the boat to ourselves, the second week they added a Kiwi couple. Because these added divers used their air faster than we did, they put them with a separate divemaster and when they had to surface, we were allowed to stay down. Because we are photographers that take our time, we had to get the divemaster to slow down, which he did. Surface interval between dives was usually taken on a sandy beach with snacks and drinks, or lunch if we were further away from the resort. Most dives are 10 to 30 minutes from the resort, although the north end of the reef is 45 minute+.

The dive shop is brand new and still under construction, but is great. Lots of drying and storage area for gear. Dive staff carried all dive equipment to and from the boat and would set it up if you wished. They also thoroughly washed and dried all the dive equipment after each dive. They have not had a lot of photographers, but were willing to accommodate. We asked for camera tanks on the boat and their eventual solution was individual plastic tubs with padding in the bottom for the large camera rigs and a 5 gal pail of water for the smaller ones. This worked fine. There was one large (55 gal) barrel filled daily with fresh water at the dive shop. Cameras went in first, other gear after the cameras were removed. They plan on adding additional tanks.

They have two dive boats, Fiji Dive 1 and Fiji Dive 2. Dive 1 will accommodate 6 divers (including divemaster) comfortably and Fiji Dive 2 will take 8. Both boats have outboards and are fast, although a little rough riding when it is choppy. The ladders on the boats were well thought out. They are long enough to be easy to get on and go up at a slight angle which makes them easy to climb.

Overall the dive operation is well run and was responsive to our wishes.

The various "Survivor" series are filmed on the islands in this area and we were sometimes kept from certain dive sites by guys in boats. For some reason they don't want a boat of divers yelling "Bula" and waving in the background of their shots. We would go to another site and come back on another day. The German Survivor series was filming while we were there.

The weather was variable. July is the middle of the Fijian winter, so weather can be stormy at times. When we arrived it was sunny and windy and our first day was pretty bumpy. Then it calmed down and we had glass flat water that allowed us to get to the exposed northern sites. At the end of the first week, a storm came in and it got windy and rainy for a couple of days. We took a couple of days off from diving. The second week it calmed down again and the ocean was good. Water temps varied from 75 to 78 degrees and 3 mm wetsuit was needed. Visibility ranged from 80 - 100' although one day after a heavy rain it was around 60' at one site.

The day we left it was windy and rainy and we got soaked on the boat ride back to the airport. We anticipated this and had a dry change of clothes ready to change into at the airport. Make sure you keep an extra change of clothes in a carry on in the event this happens. The luggage was put in a compartment in the front of the boat so it stayed dry. Carry-ons were placed in plastic bags. They are working on getting side curtains added to at least one boat.

Keep in mind Ono Island is a very remote location. There is no town, no stores and you are limited to what you bring and what is at the resort. Medical care is distant.

The resort has two websites, for the resort and for the dive operation. There is not an obvious link on either to the other, so go to both.

Overall, it was a great trip and I would recommend Oneta Resort and Dive Fiji.
Websites Dive Fiji   Oneta

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caymans, Roatan, Fiji, Bali, Sulawesi, Caribbean, California
Closest Airport Kadavu (1.5 hr by boat) Getting There San Francisco to Nadi to Kadavu.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge
Water Temp 75-78°F / 24-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80-100 Ft/ 24-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Initially we were restricted on time/depth/air but once the divemaster saw that we were experienced divers we were allowed to pretty much dive our own profile except that they asked we start for the safety stop at 700psi and to dive a conservative profile since there is no chamber in Fiji.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments There are no camera tanks on the boat. We asked for something and they placed a tub of water on the boat (at much effort). Because it was rough that day, most of the water sloshed out of the tub. From then on they had a dry tub with a layer of dry towels in the bottom (padding) for each large camera setup, and a 5 gal bucket full of water for small cameras. It worked well, keeping large cameras separate. At the dive shop there was a 55 gallon sized tub filled daily with fresh water as well as a fresh water hose. The dive shop is brand new and not yet completed. We were told camera tanks are in the plans. There is a large counter in the dive shop that can be used for cameras. We used a table in our room. There were two duplex outlets (4 plugs) in our room (110v 60hz A.C with U.S. style plugs) for charging. I carry a short extension cord with 3 outlets which made things easier. We took adapters for Fiji, but didn't need them. The boat crew treated cameras carefully.
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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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