I have always heard that Fiji is a great place for scuba diving but I had done zero research about the islands prior to arriving. Traveling without a guidebook or map, I honestly had no idea what island I was on as I roamed the streets of downtown Savusavu. As luck would have it, we had landed in what is considered the “hidden paradise of Fiji” and also home to the #3 dive sight in the world.
If you want to visit Savusavu and did not have the luxury of arriving via yacht like we did there are a few options to get you to the hidden paradise depending on your budget. International flights land in Nadi, and you can either pay about $250 to fly between the two big islands or you can take a 5 hour bus (for $10) to Suva and catch the ferry to Savusavu which takes 12 pay $30 to take a 12-hours and will cost you $30.
I always thought that Fiji would be an expensive country to travel through, but I was pleasantly surprised by the cheap cost of food and affordable accommodation options. As luck would also have it, we stumbled upon the “Hidden Paradise Guesthouse”, a budget accommodation (about $30 USD/night) located in town. The owner, Elenoa, is one of the nicest person I have met in my travels. She was like a mom away from home taking care of Thomas and I when we were both sick.
I already have my PADI Open Water Certification and Thomas decided Fiji would be the perfect place to get certified. He took his dive course through Koro Sun and I completed four dives with the company as well. The dive course cost him $650 FJD ($377 USD). Dive sites are within only minutes of the marina and offers the opportunity to discover some of the best of the Fiji underwater world.
I had hoped to be able to dive at Namena Marine Reserve (rated #3 in dive sites worldwide); however, the ability to dive at this site is contingent on the sea conditions and numbers. The site is a two hour boat ride away and dive operators require a minimum of 4 divers each required to pay an additional $50 toward fuel prices. During my time in Savusavu, the island received some rain and the sea was too rough to allow for the journey. Below is a glimpse of what one is promised to see at this amazing site.
But I did still enjoy diving at four different sites around the area. I was forced to face one of my biggest fears in life … being trapped underwater. Several of the dive sites were considered “swim through and cavern dives” meaning you had to swim through dark narrow tunnels which to me presented an risk of getting myself stuck in some hidden corner of the sea while worrying about what was lurking around the corners.
The good thing about swim throughs is there is always an exit … and I was always relieved to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My dive buddy Issac held my hand through the dark corners of “Devil’s Den.”
Dungeons and Dragons: A “drift dive” of swim throughs and caverns. The dark caverns were daunting and the current surge made it difficult to swim through. An intermediate dive that is not for those who suffer from claustrophobia. A heart racing experience that was like nothing I have done before. The dive started out stressful for me as I felt there was a problem with my regulator and had a mini freak out underwater. The instructor Collin was able to keep me calm until we reached the surface and he replaced my regulator. It took me about half the dive to settle down from my initial fright and the strong currents and dark caverns were mentally challenging.
Below is a video of one of the swim through tunnels in Dungeon’s and Dragons.
Turtle Alley Dive: Got it’s name because of the abundance of turtles swimming these waters. This was a cool dive where I saw turtles, popcorn shrimp on an anename, a large spanish macral, and the very cool “magic coral” that changed colors when I touched it (see video below). Our maximum depth was 20meters (65 feet).
Magic Coral Video
Devil’s Den: Swim through cavern dive reaching maximum depth of 50 feet. One of the highlights of this dive were the very silly “shrimp and goby” duo that work together in a partnership of sorts. The goby stands watch as the shrimp digs itself a new home bringing sand out of the hole it digs. The goby stands watch and when a threat comes near it backs it’s tail into the hole and wags it to warn the shrimp to stay inside it’s hole. They made me laugh : )
Shrimp & Goby Video
Hammerhead Dive: I had high hopes for this dive as we were promised there was a high percentage chance we would see a school of hammerhead sharks. We swam out from the reef into the deep water (500m) descending to about 70 feet. We had to swim against a strong current most of the dive which was quite exhausting. Sadly we did not see any hammerheads on the dive but did see two small reef sharks.
When we weren’t diving we explored the beautiful beaches of the island.
A local told us of a hidden hot spring pool where we gave enjoyed a free mudbath.
After spending 10 days in Savusavu we had to leave yesterday on the 12-hour overnight ferry to Suva and a bus to Nadi. We only spent a short time in both cities but agree that Savusavu is a much better place to visit in Fiji and would love to return one day.