Although Taveuni is called the "Garden Island" because of the richness and colour of its topside flora, the name could equally apply to the remarkable and vibrant scenes beneath its waters. The Somosomo Strait is the stretch of water between the island and neighbouring Vanua Levu. The Strait almost single-handedly earns Fiji its title as "The Soft Coral Capital of the World". Nearby, the world famouns Rainbow Reef and The Great White Wall have been noted in the 'Top 10 Dive Locations in the World' by U.S. Divers magazine.
Currents are variable in Taveuni but you should at least be prepared for some as the sea is seldom entirely still here. Normally the currents are little more than a gentle helping hand along the way, guiding you past some of the most wonderful proliferations of soft corals on the planet. When the current is present to any reasonable extent the grateful corals expand to their finest and most enchanting, whereas without the current they would retract into barely visible balls - and who wants that?
However, diving in Taveuni is not all sessile stuff as the nutrient rich waters also result in the presence of plenty of larger fish species and you can expect to see barracudas, reef sharks and manta rays, particularly at a site aptly named The Zoo.
The Great White Wall is one of those sites where timing is everything. Reviews range from ‘stunning' to ‘disappointing' since a lot depends on the extent of current. When you hit it just right it can be an amazing and unique experience, and the jewel in Taveuni's crown.
Beginning in a tunnel-like cave, you will cruise over colourful sponges and crinoids, past resident moray eels and lionfish lurking in the sheltered spots. Leaving the cave is like being spat out of a water slide, as you emerge into the blue exiting a hole in a sheer wall. The wall is also unlike any other. It is covered in soft corals, 95% of which is a bluey-whiteness. When the corals are in full bloom the effect is extraordinary.
Rainbow Reef is one of Fiji's best-loved dive sites is found here in the Somosomo Strait between Taveuni and Vanua Levu. When the current is flowing just right the soft corals emerge in their fullest display of colour - giving the site its name. Drifting along past this profusion of life and colour you can spot all manner of fascinating marine life on this bejewelled reef and plenty of big stuff cruising around the vicinity.
You will come across several bommies where you can spend time investigating among the soft corals. Look out for nudibranchs, Christmas tree worms and anemonefish, as well as swarms of orange basslets and numerous clown triggerfish. Larger animals include leopard sharks, barracuda and white-tip reef sharks.
Pot Luck sounds like a gamble but it is one of the more consistent sites in the Somosomo Strait. Less about corals and more about the marine life, scuba divers can look forward to seeing a large school of jacks, as well as schools of sweetlips and barracudas. This is a good spot for seeing an unusual sight that can be seen in the waters of Taveuni: schools of parrotfish, in shades from blue-green to purple, swimming around munching the coral to a fine sand.
There is plenty of hard coral here for them to dine on, mostly staghorn and table corals in an area also featuring gorgonian fans and giant clams. Also look out for banded sea kraits weaving their way through the water.
Fish Factory is located on the inner section of Vuna Reef, a lagoon near central Taveuni's west coast. The dive begins in a sandy region decorated with many coral pinnacles where most of the action takes place within the 15 to 20m depth. Expect a multitude of little anthias and damsels darting around over nudibranchs and the occasional moray eel. Trevally, Spanish mackerel and barracuda are also common here.
You will encounter a wall that marks your arrival at Vuna Reef. Sights like this wall are why Fiji is correctly hailed as the word's soft coral capital. Hues on the colour spectrum around pink, orange, lilac, yellow, mauve, white and purple splatter the wall like paint on a canvas.
There are also some really rewarding sites off the little islands to the north east which you will surely visit if staying for several days. Here there is less current but still plenty to see and these locations can make an interesting change from the Somosomo Strait where scuba diving can, in every sense, be truly breath-taking.
Dive The World Fiji Recommendations: Rainbow Reef and The Great White Wall.
More detailed information available on the Taveuni diving sites (on our www.dive-the-world.com website).
Liveaboard fans can dive Taveuni from either of a couple of options: one is a standard diving liveaboard cruise, the other a 'scuba and adventure' safari. Otherwise if you are more of a land-lubber or want an extended period of time here, there are several resorts in the area most of which are located along the west coast of Taveuni island giving you handy access to the best sites of the Somosomo Strait.
If you need lodgings in the Fijian islands, hotelscombined.com, specialists in hotel reservations, have a good range of choices to suit all budgets:
You can choose from dozens of resorts and hotels and your booking will be supported by the hotelscombined.com website's 'Low Price Guarantee', ensuring you get best value for money.
The dive resorts of Taveuni don't close since the diving is good all year round. April to October sees the main season, with July and September offering the best visibility. The water is at its warmest outside the main season when rain is more likely.
Taveuni is a quick hop on a daily flight from Nadi, which gives you the chance to drink in some gorgeous aerial views of this Pacific archipelago. If you are staying in a resort you will need to make this return flight. If you are on a liveaboard that visits Taveuni you with either depart and return to Viti Levu on the liveaboard, or else fly to Savusavu or Taveuni for your cruise departure.
Great for: Large animals, reef life and health, visibility
Not so great for: Snorkelling
Depth: 10 - >40m
Visibility: 15 - 40m
Currents: Gentle to very strong
Surface Conditions: Mainly calm but can be choppy further from shore particularly during July to September when visibility is at its best
Water Temperature: normally 28 - 30°C
Experience Level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~20
Access: Tesorts and liveaboards
Recommended length of stay: 7 - 10 days