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Dive Review of Matava Eco Resort in
Fiji and Tuvalu/Kadavu Island

Matava Eco Resort, Jun, 2011,

by Gayle Van Leer, CA, US ( 1 report). Report 6118.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Mexico, Australia, Thailand, Palau, Fiji, Hawaii, San Diego
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, surge, no currents
Water Temp 79 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth usually above 80' and dives usually 1 hour.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 3 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 3 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Camera tub on boats but in the sun. Crew good with camera handling. No dedicated camera table to work on at the resort but they will set you up on extra dining table. Charging area used by entire resort not really set up for drippy cameras and they like to run it only during sunlight hours. Bring your own adapters and be prepared to claim your plugs.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Spent a wonderful 9 days at the Matava Eco Resort and would have loved to stay longer if we could. Although Fiji is better known for its soft corals, this area of Fiji consists of mostly hard corals. We just had tastes of soft corals here and there. The hard corals are varied and for the most part incredibly pristine and healthy which was refreshing to see. There were not a lot of large schooling fish for the most part, but we did see sharks on about a quarter of the dives which was not expected. We had mantas on two dives along with larger tuna types making passes at us on the outside reefs. There were plenty of other critters to entertain us although for a nudi file like me, did not find that many but suspect that was because we did not do that many sites more attractive to them. My best nudi finds were on the Korolevu Passage dives.

We did 3 dives most days, 4 a couple of days. Unlimited shore diving is offered, however because of the extreme tides (we were there on a full moon), if you dont dive on high tide, you will have a very long hike back to the dive shack with all your gear on and, ok, that was just way too far for me.

Our diving was done from either panga like skiffs when there were less than 4 divers or their very well designed aluminum Dive Me. A new smaller aluminum boat was to be delivered to the resort the week after we left to replace the skiffs entirely. If it is as well designed as Dive Me it will be top notch to dive from. The boat rides to the dive sites were as long as 45 minutes not necessarily because they were far away, but because the extreme low tides while we were there made for creeping along through gaps in the reef very slowly an absolute must. The scenery was spectacular so no one minded.

The normal is for a two tank morning dive with your surface interval done on the boat or a nearby beach. Tea, coffee and snacks served. You then are back to the resort for lunch and a single tank afternoon dive. I think in the summer they do two tank afternoon dives however not enough daylight for that at this time of the year down there.

In 8 days of diving we only ever saw one other dive boat and it only had two divers, so basically we had miles of reef to ourselves. The visibility varied depending if you were on the outside or inside of the reef with outside being maybe as good as 150+ and the inside being more like 30-40 depending on the tides and time of day. Some of the inside dives were my favorite despite the visibility, but then we are used to 10-20 vis diving at home (San Diego) so 30-40 is fine with us. The dive sites had good variety that included sheer walls, sloping reefs, patch reefs and sandy areas. The dive crew and boat operators are top notch and leave you alone to dive pretty much your own profile once they are comfortable with your skills.

About the Resort:
The resort itself is nestled along the southeast side of the island and can barely been seen from the water blending in so well with the lush natural beauty of the island. The owners have carefully built the resort to have as little impact on the land and sea as possible. Most of the electricity is created by the abundant solar energy of the tropics, which also provides the hot water for showers in your private and very confortable bure. With no roads to the resort EVERYTHING is brought in by boat. That in itself would be a challenge, but additionally deliveries need to be timed by the tides because of the shallowness of the inside bays. At low tide boats are sitting in the sand and you will be walking to or from the transfer boats across sand and sea grass flats.

Dont think for a minute this is a rustic basic resort. Far from it. Despite the logistics of supplying the resort, the staff goes beyond being friendly and caring and dont ask me how such amazing and varied meals came out of that kitchen. A large garden supplies the majority of veggies served at the resort with the rest coming from the local village. What a treat that was.

If you are looking for a big city fancy resort bar night life this is not the place for you. The eclectic group of guests from at least 4 different countries while we were there combined with one of the resort owners, Richard, and the rest of the staff, made for some fun evenings.

Because that area of Fiji is also world renowned for its deep sea fishing, the resort has a sports fishing operation as well and about a third of the guests were serious fishermen. These guys really seem to know how to fish and this resulted in fresh wahoo and other deep sea fish on the menu multiple days along with amazing plates of sashimi two nights in a row. Not a scrap of fish was wasted between the resort and the local village. Apparently their large bill fishing is usually tag and release.

The beautifully landscaped grounds are filled with flowers that are used fresh daily all over the resort. The individual buries are very comfortable with good beds and linens and cooling provided by the tropical breezes. There is small florescent light in the bathroom and another one in the bure itself just so you can find your away around. If you want to read at night, bring a head light and you will need it for walking on moonless nights as well if you dont have one of the kerosene lanterns you pick up nightly at the main bure. A ceiling fan would have been nice as some nights the air just did not move and that made sleeping difficult, however with limited electricity I understand why they did not have them in each bure. There are mosquitos about in the evenings so if you are bothered by them come prepared with long sleeves and pants and some bug repellent. I did not have a problem but my traveling companion did. You sleep under a mosquito net so once in bed it is not an issue.

Although we did not do much besides diving, some of the other guests raved about their village visit, medicine plant walk and going to the waterfalls. We did do yoga every morning out on the large deck overlooking the bay. Very inspirational! The resort will supply mats, straps and blocks upon request. Apparently there has been enough interest that yoga retreats may be coming soon. Could not think of a better setting.

On our last day there was a wedding! It was just incredible the job the staff did led by the very capable Maggie who was in his element attending to every detail to make it unbelievably romantic and to go off without a hitch. Flowers from the local area were everywhere and decorating even the boat that took the bride and groom to a secluded beach laid out for the ceremony with mats, shade, a full meal and a few hours to themselves afterwards. When they came back to the resort later in the evening all of us joined in helping them celebrate with party time Fijian style that included music, Kava ceremony, dancing and a huge feast of beautifully laid out food. It was a wedding they will always remember. I dont know how they managed to go diving the next morning!
The negative of the trip was flying tourist class on Air Pacific where you are only allowed 50lbs per person and 12lbs in one carryon. You and your carry on will be weighed for the puddle jumper fight to Kadavu island. These weight limits are totally impossible for divers. We packed little more than our dive gear with my gear all being travel friendly very lightweight equipment and still were hopelessly overweight. We paid $80 in overweight fees in LA which got us all the way to Kadavu island. On the way back it was a different story. We were charged just under $40 for the overweight to Nadi then charged another whopping $100 at check in back to LA. We had less luggage on the way back so were especially upset with the airline for this lack of consistency in their charges and felt we were double charged using that system. They showed no understanding whatsoever making us feel robbed. This diver unfriendly baggage allowance and excessive overweight charges will give me cause for pause in my future travel decisions and I especially cant recommend Air Pacific as a traveling diver because of it. Airlines like Continental are much more diver friendly allowing you one extra bag as long as it contains dive gear only. Hopefully after their merge with United that policy will remain in place. Our flight was a code share with Air New Zealand and Quantas so it will be tough to duck Air Pacifics regulations by flying another airline.

Overall a wonderful trip and I would love to go back there again. Probably go at a different time of year just for the variety and longer daylight hours so we can dive more!
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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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