World-famous — you hear this term too much, if you ask me. And few places live up to the hype. But I can remember many of my scuba dives in Fiji like it was yesterday, or an hour ago. I remember them so well because the dives were just as I imagined diving would be when I first became certified. Wild colors, lots of movement, secretive creatures and the big heart-stoppers like sharks. As an underwater photographer, I've spent a great deal of my life chasing that singular undersea vision. I still am. And then there's Fiji.
My first dive in Fiji set the bar high: Namena Island, about 40 minutes from Savusavu on the northern island of Vanua Levu. Between the blue ribbon eels of a site called Chimneys and the zebra shark at Grand Central Station, I bounced back and forth between the big and small, all of which took place amid a palette of vivid soft corals and blazingly colored marinelife. I even took a 10-minute safety stop at the top of a coral bommie at Chimneys just because the action, the up and down, ebb and flow, of the anthias mesmerized me.
Tempered by this friendly takeover of my dive imagination, I headed for the eco-world of the Great Northern Reef, diving out of Nukubati. Many of the dives off the north coast of Vanua Levu, and all along the Great Northern Reef, are yet to be named because they see so few divers. And those are the dives we did. Rich, lush, fearless marinelife. Nothing but dive site descriptions in a logbook, noted as nameless, so in my mind I called then Ty Reef 1, 2, 3 and so on. Why not? But, alas, none of these even qualify as world famous in Fiji. No, those designations go to Rainbow Reef, near Taveuni, Astrolabe Reef, E-6, the Great White Wall, Beqa Lagoon off the southern islands and a big secret called Re-run off the north coast of Viti Levu, in the Bligh Waters. Off these sites, marinelife clashes with sessile reef structure in a battle for your attention.
But, really, off most of the 330-plus islands that make up this wonderful stretch of the South Pacific, you'll find the next world-famous dive.
View Carlos Villoch's stunning images from these islands.