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Dive Review of Matangi Island Resort in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Matangi

Matangi Island Resort, Oct, 2007,

by Kerwin Louis, HI, U.S.A. ( 1 report). Report 3646.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments First trip back to Fiji since the coup of 2000 ended my job as dive operations manager of Fiji Forbes Laucala. We stayed for two weeks on the neighboring island of Matangi owned by Noel & Flo Douglas and managed by daughter, Christene. The bures are roomy and very comfortable with meticulous attention to detail. The food is impressive; the presentation, quality and service from the wonderfully friendly staff that will rival any fine dining restaurant in the States. A new, larger dining bure was under construction during our visit and should be finished by now.

A worthwhile but tough two hour hike along the rim of Matangi will reward you with stunning panoramic views of the neighboring islands of Taveuni, Qamea and Laucala. Since Matangi is a crescent shaped island, there’s a horseshoe bay with a secluded white sand beach and the only access is to be dropped off by boat or paddling by kayak. A picnic lunch with wine or champagne will be provided if requested. If you’ve ever fantasized about strolling au naturel with your honey on a tropical beach in total isolation, this is the beach! Side trips to Bouma Falls on Taveuni and a village tour on Qamea shouldn’t be missed.

Since the closure of Fiji Forbes Laucala, Matangi is the only dive operator that dive the sites east of Laucala. Although capable of handling large dive groups, the largest amount of divers during our visit was six. The dive guides are former employees of Laucala, Iowani Baleicolo, a.k.a. Bale, one of the few licensed Fijian boat skippers in the north and “Ratu” Joe Cakobau who is a direct descendent of arguably the most famous chief in Fijian history. Both graciously deferred to re-visiting some of my favorite dive sites. All diving is drift diving and both Bale & Ratu Joe know which sites to dive when the current is most favorable to seeing the soft corals at full bloom.

Our first dive was the Yellow Wall (always my personal favorite) just east of Laucala. Upon descending along a sheer vertical drop off I knew we hit this site spot on as the entire wall was an explosion of yellow soft corals. This definitely rivals the more famous Great White Wall in the Somosomo straits between Taveuni and Vanua Levu. Wow! Other sites were Noel’s Wall where near the end of the dive, the large school of chevron barracuda still congregate off the drop off and if you move slowly, you can hover while the entire school slowly encircle you. White tip reef sharks appeared on almost every dive but the treat was to see the occasional gray reef or black tip sharks patrolling off the walls or eagle rays and turtles which we saw at The Corner (Frank’s Place) along with the many large camouflage groupers that hang out along the top of the reef. Some of the sites haven’t recovered from the bleaching in 2000 or sustained damage during the cyclone of January 2003 but we didn’t visit those sites. Others have come back remarkably. Broken Reef near Matangi was a great shallow dive where you meander around large bommies of acropora table corals with blue or white tips. Seven Peaks between Qamea and Taveuni has come back with large colonies of purple and red soft corals with swarms of purple and red anthias fluttering in the current on top of the bommies. Stillwaters, near Qamea Beach Resort is still one of the best for moderately fast currents but all kinds of visual candy from soft corals, barracudas, white tips, swarms of smaller tropicals, anemones with anemone fish, flatworms, etc. In addition to pointing out the larger stuff during a dive, dive guide Bale’s best trait is finding the smaller stuff; nudibranchs, and little shrimp and crabs that hide on the underside of anemones so don’t get caught up in drifting by but slow down and take time to look for the unique smaller life that’s part of every reef.

After our first few dives, my companion, who had previously only dived in Hawaii, commented, “These coral gardens are just like in “Finding Nemo”! No wonder you loved it so much here.”

The weather was rainy at times and the seas moderately calm but that didn’t prevent us from any of our planned activities. The Douglas family and staff are very gracious and hospitable hosts. Be sure to pet and say “Bula!” to Flo Douglas’s pet fruit bat, Jonathan!

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Over 3000 dives from California, Caribbean, Belize, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and many islands in the South Pacific. Currently living and diving in Hawaii.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 78-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 60-100 Ft/ 18-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Able to dive own profile with computers. No time limits but I knew that depth limit is 130'.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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