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

Mai Dive, Nov, 2009,

by Sandy Falen, KS, USA (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 5263.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving All over the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Palau, other areas of Fiji.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 73 to 75 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 70 to 120 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions noted.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments If you need a rinse bucket on board, they'll provide one.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments My only hesitation in writing this report is the chance of spoiling this paradise. Joe, Jason, and Danielle are the owner/operators of Mai Dive, an all-inclusive dive resort on Ono Island, in the Kadavu group, in southern Fiji. After the 11-hour Air Pacific crossing from LAX to Nadi, and a 5-hour layover at a nearby hotel, I took a one-hour flight on Pacific Sun (Air Pacific's affiliate) to Kadavu. Mai Dive picks up its guests at the Kadavu Airport for the 90-minute boat trip to Ono. And there's no question, the trip is worth the effort.

Ono Island is small and has almost no development. A handful of tiny resorts and several local villages dot this pristine island.

Mai Dive's guest accommodations could house a dozen people if every bed was filled. I enjoyed the luxury of their largest room all by myself, and there were never more than four guests on hand during my stay. The bungalows are simple but lovely -- well designed and supremely comfortable, with wonderful beds and modern facilities. The bonus was the delightfully inexhaustible hot water shower, which was situated in a private, enclosed outdoor deck. Mosquito netting was provided with every bed, but I never needed the protection. I slept like a rock with the cool breeze that constantly swept through the screened windows, with nighttime sounds limited to the ocean, tropical critters, and the occasional coconut drop.

If it's possible to overeat on a dive trip, I did at this place. The food was outstanding, with a varied menu that ran from local dishes and fresh fish to hamburgers and pizza. Service was warm and efficient. There was always hot water for tea, and warm, homebaked bread or rolls at every meal. Organic produce is grown on site, so there was always fresh fruit, salad, and veggies. Fresh baked cakes and cookies provided desserts and afternoon snacks. And perhaps best of all was the pure water that flows from Mai Dive's own freshwater spring.

Diving is done in the Astrolabe Reef that surrounds Ono on three sides. Boat trips were generally 10-15 minutes, and we dived both inside and outside the barrier reef, depending on tides and currents. Dive sites included bommies punctuated with stunning swim-throughs, pinnacles, and drifts along walls encrusted with gorgeous soft corals. We saw sharks on nearly every dive, sea snakes, Napoleon Wrasse, schooling barracuda, giant morays, and a wide variety of colorful tropicals such as fire dartfish, anthias, anemone fish, moorish idols, triggers, and unicorn fish. Viz was always good, and sometimes it was outstanding. We did a few drift dives, but only once was the current close to ripping.

Water was a bit chilly (this was springtime in Fiji); I wore a lycra skin under a 3-mil vest and a 2-mil suit and got along fine.

The crew set up gear and carried it to the boat, and they always lent a hand when suiting up. Surface intervals were either on a beach or on the boat, but they always included hot tea and snacks such as banana cake and fresh fruit. I can't say enough about the dive crew at Mai Dive -- they were professional and safety-conscious, but also good-humored and a lot of fun.

A visit to a nearby village provided the chance to enjoy local culture, including a meke ceremony. Small gifts, especially for the children, are not expected but are genuinely appreciated -- I loaded up on pencils, crayons, etc., before traveling. Staff tips are likewise not an expectation, but given the warm and generous service I enjoyed during my stay, I was glad I'd brought some local currency. I recommend getting your Fiji dollars via ATM at the Nadi airport (you won't find any banks, ATMs, or shopping on Ono Island).

I made all of my arrangements via email and fax, with inquiries answered promptly. Danielle made the reservation process easy and efficient. Additional charges at Mai Dive, such as added dives or a celebratory bottle of champagne, can be charged to your credit card when checking out.

Given the exchange rate, Fiji is a fantastic travel value. You may pay more to get there than you will to the Caribbean, but the added flight expense is offset by the reasonable pricing for your accommodation and diving. I've spent more on Caribbean trips, and for exotic beauty and pristine diving, it's hard to beat the South Pacific. Although I spent more than thirty hours traveling each way, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

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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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