Scuba Diving

Among Fiji's most renowned experiences is shark-diving in Beqa Lagoon, a roughly 40-mi-wide extinct volcanic crater home to one of the world's largest barrier reefs. Silvertips, gray reef, whitetip reef, blacktip reef, sicklefin lemons, and tawny nurse sharks as well as large bull and occasional tiger sharks come to feed on the fish bait provided at a depth of 82-98 ft. (25-30 meters) on the reef ledge while divers observe. Because of the depth, all divers must be certified.

There's also excellent wreck-diving at four purpose-sunk Taiwanese trawlers, each roughly 110 feet (33 meters) long. The first was sunk in the late-1990s. The wrecks are home to schools of barracuda, pipefish, a giant camouflaging frogfish, stonefish, lionfish, leaf scorpion fish, and moray eels.

Soft coral dives take place at more than 20 sites around Pacific Harbour. Highlights here include large pinnacle clusters, which give divers the impression of walking between buildings, and the rare blue ribbon eel.

Aquatrek Beqa. Aquatrek Beqa is one of Fiji's major operators, with a second base in Taveuni. Aquatrek's shark dive positions divers around the perimeter of the dive site before a bin of fish is brought down for the sharks to feed on. It costs US$150 for two 20-minute dives. Wreck and soft coral reef dives are US$125 for two dives. Night dives are US$75. A four-day open-water course costs US$470. Pearl South Pacific Resort, Queens Rd., Km 145, Pacific Harbor, Viti Levu. 888–0286.

Beqa Adventure Divers. Beqa Adventure Divers or "BAD" has a two-part shark dive that includes 17 minutes observing the shark-feeding at a depth of 98 ft. (30 meters), where the bull sharks are most common, before heading up among the smaller species. Two 45-minute shark dives with an hour-long surface interval costs US$138; a single-tank dive costs US$93. Wreck and soft coral reef two-tank dives are US$118; one-tank dives are US$81. There's a US$11 per-day reef tax. Lagoon Resort, Queens Rd., Km 144, Pacific Harbour, Viti Levu. 345–0911.

Nai'a. Nai'a offers chartered live-aboard scuba diving for up to 18 guests in nine staterooms aboard its 120-foot motorsailer yacht. The 10-crew yacht was last refitted in 2000 and includes a dedicated dry camera and video room. Nitrox diving is available. Prices start at US$1,860 double-occupancy for seven days (plus US$117 per person for fuel), including all meals, tanks, weights, unlimited air refills and round-trip transfer from the Nadi-area. Pacific Harbour, Viti Levu. 345–0382; 888/510–1593 in the U.S.

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IS IT SAFE? Sharks don't want to eat people. When they do attack it's because the person is silhouetted on the surface and mistaken for something else, or (much rarer) invading their territory. With Fiji's shark-feeding trips, you'll be at the sharks' eye-level and easily recognized as not being among their natural prey and, essentially, ignored in favor of the free meal provided by your outfitter. There are no territorial issues because the sharks have entered people's territory, not the other way around.


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