Divecation: Fiji

There are many reasons why people dive, but I think it generally boils down to a simple fact. You dive because you enjoy it. The feeling you get in the alien sounding underwater world is frankly unlike anything else. I would say it is usually that feeling that urges, if not compels new and experienced divers alike to take another trip under the waves. For my experience, I have to add one more criteria to my enjoyment of diving; that is the pleasure of diving with my wife. When we dive together, everything seems to fit. Of course we have grown into the symbiosis that is our diving these days. It is lucky we had a great place to get started.

When we first set out to get certified, we came to Maui. The water where we live is too cold for either of us to give that more than a fleeting (if not chilling) thought. Besides, who wouldn’t like the idea of certifying and diving in the warm waters of Maui? It was our great fortune to meet Don, Rachel and everyone at Maui Dreams when we took that first trip to start our diving career. I cannot express how much fun we had learning to dive and feeling like we were a part of Maui Dream’s Ohana.

Over the ensuing year, my wife Tanya and I have visited Maui often to dive with Don and Rachel. While we LOVE Maui, we have also had the opportunity to dive off Oahu and the Big Island. As good as those dives have been (great really), we always seem to find our way back to Maui. A trip never goes by without at least a couple of excursions on the Maui Diamond II. I know we are not even close to diving all the places we would like to dive in Maui, or Hawaii for that matter. However, both of us were starting to think about expanding our diving horizons to include other tropical dive locations.

Coincidentally, it was about that same time that we heard some buzz around the shop regarding a Fiji trip. “Wow”, we thought. Fiji seemed like such an exotic location to dive in. Should we even consider that as our first “Divecation” location? Arguably some may contend our trips to Hawaii count as an exciting dive destination already. We like to call it home. After what was an unlikely small amount of deliberation time, we both decided that the Fiji trip was a go!

There are unworldly amounts of planning that can go into a trip to Fiji. Notice that I said “can”. I don’t think it has to be that way, but ours certainly was. I cannot say for sure, but I think Tanya either talked to or texted Rachel on a daily or every other day basis. If it seems like I am complaining, let me correct that perception right now. I have no issues with my wife’s diligence. The end result was a seamless pack job with the right amount of “stuff” to go somewhere we have never been before. Great job Tanya!

Needless to say we were excited for our first Divecation trip. If I were paying close attention, I might say it seemed like ages between our confirmation and that first airplane trip to Oahu where we would spend the night for our layover. The morning of the second leg of our trip brought the whole group together. Tanya and I met Don and Rachel at the airport, along with dive buddies Ed and Judy in preparation for our flight to Nadi, Fiji. Tanya kept looking at me and saying, “We’re going to Fiji”. A mantra she had repeated many times up to that point.

Surprisingly, less people were going to Fiji than I would have thought. The plane ride was about the same length as our trip from home (around five and half hours or so) and went by quickly from my perspective. While we knew we would have to spend the night in Nadi before flying on to Taveuni, we did not have any other expectations. The flight to Taveuni is really where I started to feel like I was not in Kansas anymore. We met the rest of our group (Mark and Jo) and embarked on the smallest airplane I have ever been on. I am not one to have issues with flying, but if I were, this plane would certainly do it for me. Faint traces of airplane fuel filled my nostrils as I watched the verdant landscape give way to a light blue ocean. Tanya and I did not get to sit together on that flight, but as I looked back at her I could see her face brighten with a smile.

I don’t know if a week is a long time for a trip like this, but it was clear that our group was going to get some dives in while we were there. After a warm and cultural welcome, we spent some time learning our way around the place and getting our dive gear down to the dive shop. Several of us couldn’t wait to get in the water. Our first “official” dives were not scheduled till the next day, but we didn’t want to waste any more time not diving.

In terms of experience, diving in Fiji was not drastically different than diving in Maui. However, what we saw in Fiji was hugely different than what we were “used” to. Most striking were the soft corals and anemone that we had never seen in person before. These were VERY evident on the “White Wall” and “Purple Wall”, which we were told are not always white or purple. We were very lucky to have excellent dive guides, chosen by Rachel of course!

“Nudi Party!”

The idea of a vacation focused on diving and when you are getting in and out of the water is amazing to me. Eating, sleeping and drinking Kava are just the things you do in between dives. Tanya and I spent this “in between” time filling out dive logs and talking with the group about what we had seen on the day’s dives. It was exciting to hear other’s perspectives, even on the same dives. Current or no current, deep or shallow; each dive had new elements to experience. For Tanya and I, the experience was unlike any of our previous trips.

I have been asked if I will do other trips like this one. For me the answer is obvious, absolutely! Doing something you enjoy with people you like is a combination that’s hard to beat. While the “what to pack” was covered by Tanya, everything else was handled beautifully by Maui Dreams and McCoy Travel. Since our trip, we have been invited to places like Cozumel, Florida Keys, Belize and other alluring dive destinations. All I can say is it’s not always where you dive, but who you dive with when you are where you are.

Thanks to Don and Rachel for being such gracious hosts on our first trip to Fiji. You made it enjoyable and memorable and we are very grateful. We were excited to bring our new friends, Ed and Judy, as well as meet new friends, Mark and Jo. Also, let me say that Tanya and I are SO excited to meet up with everyone again on a new adventure to the Philippines. We are looking forward to that trip with at least as much excitement! (Tanya sez: “We’re going to the Philippines!)