Taveuni is world-renowned for its reefs. The Rainbow Reef is particularly one of the most stunning so it was high on my list of must-dos while in Taveuni. I decided to go out snorkeling on the reef. I’m certified to dive, but I’m out of practice and I’m a very nervous diver and many of Taveuni’s dives are drift dives; all of it had me increasingly anxious about going out diving. But I knew I’d regret not going out to the reef. Snorkeling seemed like a good middle option and I was thrilled yesterday when I called one of the island’s dive operators that a snorkel trip was going out today.
I was taken partway down the island’s West Coast to a water jetty to meet the dive boat. We had two instructors, then an Australian and an American couple, plus me, the lone girl. It was only about 10 minutes by boat before we stopped out on the reef.
Our first spot: The Fish Factory. I eagerly got in the water and spent the next 45 minutes exploring that part of the reef. Rainbow Reef gets it’s name from the vividly coloured coral that just seems to “pop”.
Like closer to shore, in places I could see some of the damage that had been caused by the hurricane that came through here this past March. But there seemed to be less damage here than on the reef closer to shore. It was a gorgeous day today - little wind, the sun beaming down, the water quite still with only a very gentle current. It all made for incredibly clear visibility. I had a great time floating along over the brightly coloured coral and amongst the countless fish. I understand why the spot is named The Fish Factory - there were so many of them. I wish I was better at identifying and naming fish; I feel like I’d be able to better explain my experiences in the water to people. While I have an excellent memory of events and I’m very good with people’s names, my brain just does not retain the names of my sea friends.
After our time at the first location, we got back on the boat and headed the rest of the way across the Somosomo Straight to Taveuni’s neighbouring island Vanua Luvu. Vanua Levu is Fiji’s second largest island and it can
be seen from most of Taveuni’s West Coast; I also flew alongside much of it on my way here the other day. We pulled into a small bay with a white sand beach and rested there for about 45 minutes. We had some juice and homemade cookies and otherwise just enjoyed the little slice of paradise we were in. I spent most of it in the water. The ocean water is so warm here, only just cool enough that it feels refreshing - and to think that this is Fiji’s winter! There were more fish at the beach, swimming right up into the shallow water around my feet.
After our break on Vanua Levu, we went back out to the Rainbow Reef, this time stopping at a site called The Sand Reef - so named because there are large stretches of sand here with then large coral formations scattered around it. I saw a bit more of a variety of things at this spot, but because it was deeper, I got fewer good clear photos. (Side note - I have a new waterproof camera that I had to buy this summer after my last one had pretty much died
on me and I LOVE this one! It captures colour even more clearly and it’s so much easier to use in the water. Love love love it.) So, what were some of the different things I saw here? Huge schools of fish and really interesting fish groups too. I saw two different schools of these large fish that were bright purple and yellow/green. They sparkled as the sunlight fell on them through the water. And I saw a shark! No need to panic, it was only a reef shark (“the pussycats of the ocean” one of the dive masters said). It was maybe about 3 to 4 feet long, grey with white tips. But still, it was a shark and I spotted it all on my own!
I had a little more than an hour in the water at this last spot before we were back in the boat and headed to Taveuni. It was a very short ride back, then I met my taxi and returned to Makaira (where I’m staying). I’ve spent the afternoon just relaxing in the hammock over the ocean and on my lounge chair on the front porch of my bure. I’m feeling really
worn out from the last few days. I’m loving my time in Taveuni and am glad to be making the most of it - but I’ve been doing lots of physical stuff so I’m getting tired! One more full day left on this island before I move on to the second half of my trip . . .
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