Fiji... Namena and Taveuni Islands

Ocean Child left Vuda Marina on August 22, with Camille (France) and Frankie (Hawaii). Our plan was to dive two famous sites: the Namena Island MPA (marine protected area) and Rainbow Reef, just southwest of the Somosomo Strait, Taveuni Island.

We travelled inside Viti Levu's northwest fringing reef using a well-defined channel. Once we reached Viti Levu's most northern point, we crossed Bligh Water at night to reach Namena Island by early morning. After three days at Namena we crossed the Koro Sea at night to reach the village of Somosomo by early morning. 

These areas are close to Savusavu, Fiji's most popular Port of Entry for visiting yachts.

At Savusavu, hot springs are used by villagers for cooking (not bathing... the water comes out boiling). At the spring on the left, a large aluminium pot is covered with a Hessian sack. I don't know what was inside... there was no-one in attendance.

Routine life on board Ocean Child. Click the picture to download the video... you may have to wait a few moments for the mp4 file to reach your computer.

We had a strong northeast headwind on the first day out from Vuda, so we ran on the motor. Towards evening our boat speed dropped below 2 knots, so we anchored in the channel in 20m of water. Luckily the anchor held well in the mud bottom. In the photo above, notice how the clouds follow the terrain.

Viti Levu's northwest coast is comparatively dry... but steep areas are still well vegetated.

The second day the wind dropped...

...until there was no wind at all. We crossed Bligh Water at night in dead calm conditions.

The next day we reached Namena Island...

Seabirds roosting and nesting in trees at Namena Island. I had not seen this in Fiji before. There were several species here, including birds with very deeply-forked tails. Local resort staff referred to the most numerous species as Boobys... these looked like a smaller version of the Australian Gannet.

Namena Island was bought many years ago by an American couple, the Moodys. They established protection from harvesting both on the island and surrounding waters, which were heavily depleted (unfortunately still typical of most Fiji reefs). The resort they set up is still operating, and has been sold to an absentee owner who is friendly towards visiting yachts. Although many of the larger fish species which would normally occur here are still missing, it is now easy to see small turtles and reef sharks. The great attraction to divers here is a wonderful variety of soft corals and small, brilliantly coloured planktivorous fish.. some of these species have no doubt benefited from the removal of their predators.

It's great to see large schools of fish...

Click the picture to download the video... you may have to wait a few moments for the mp4 file to reach your computer.

Like some other large reef fish, sharks enjoy having a mouth clean-up courtesy of small fish which enter the shark's mouth to eat parasites. Here the shark is lying still, holding its mouth open to allow a small fish safe entry. Click the picture to download the video... you may have to wait a few moments for the mp4 file to reach your computer.

Children, Somosomo Village, Taveuni.

In a maritime climate, a carport is useful to help prevent rusting.

Taveuni

Taveuni. This grand church seems out of proportion to the humble dwellings of the villagers.

 

Two girls in a canoe made from corrugated iron.

Bouma Park, Eastern Taveuni

Produce market, Taveuni.

Like Namena Island, Rainbow Reef, just southwest of Somosomo Strait, is famous for its soft corals, and the same comments about predators (or their absence) apply. The Strait is an unusual area of shallow reef, squashed between Vanua Levu and Tavenui, with the result that the area is constantly awash with tidal currents, which bring food to the reef ecosystem.  There is a huge variety of hard and soft corals, and tiny fish. And the water is usually fairly clear. A photographer's paradise. Much of the beauty is on a very small scale... tiny fish and invertebrates perhaps only one or two centimetres in size.

Click the picture above to download the video... you may have to wait a few moments for the mp4 file to reach your computer.

Click the picture to download the video... you may have to wait a few moments for the mp4 file to reach your computer.

We dived with a company based not far from Somosomo Village on Taveuni Island: Taveuni Ocean Sports, operated by Julie Kelly. Her team and her equipment were excellent... highly recommended. Another company which looks good value is Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat.

 

 

We're here to say "goodbye".

 

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