Diving Fiji's Beqa Island 2000

By Gene Lucas

Arriving at the Airport 2 hours early has given us time to wonder about our fall dive destination of Fiji. This will be our first dive trip in years that is not a return trip. Welcome to Fiji Our destination is the little Island of Beqa (Ben ga) on the south side of the main island of Fiji. Fiji is 1700 miles east of Northern Australia and 1200 miles south of the equator. Their weather seasons are opposite of ours. That means that it is the beginning of their Spring. We arrive on time in Los Angeles flying United Airlines. This will be our only stop before heading to the main island. With an 8 hour lay over a few of us decide to kill some time and go bowling. Six of us hale a cab and head to K Mart to pick up a pair of socks. Upon arrival at the bowling alley we pay our 30 dollar cab fare. I think the cabbie knew we were born on the farm. Once in the alley we find it is League night and we have 30 minutes to play one game. We decide to take the cheap seats back to the airport. We cross the street to the hotel and take their shuttle bus back. After all, it is only a mile to the airport. Once back to LAX we head straight for the restaurant and bar. We still have 4 hours until our redeye 11:30 PM flight leaves. We leave LAX on time for a 9 hour 9885 km flight that will take us south of the equator and across the international date line. Two movies and a little cat nap later, we arrive in Nadi, Fiji. From this point we still have a 3 hour bus ride and 30 minute boat ride. Two days (with 3 hours sleep) after we left Denver we arrive at Marlin Bay Resort. The last 50 feet require us to wade to shore. We walk to the gathering hall and grab our welcome cocktail. Life is very very good. The rest of the day is left open to relax and let the affect of crossing the International Date Line catch up to us. Our first full day of diving will begin in the morning at 8 am. We are off to our room to stow our gear and then back to the meeting room for lunch.huts Lunch today is a tuna sandwich and salad. The sandwich is sweet and very tasty. After lunch we take a stroll on the beach. The tide is just coming in and it has been raining all day. We decide to cut this walk short and head back to our hut for my first 14 hour nap. Awakening to the sounds of the tribal drums not an alarm clock is a very different sensation. After a hardy breakfast of banana pancakes we grab our wet suits and are off to meet the little boat that will take us out to our dive boat. With about 15 divers and a crew of 4 we are off to the 3 sisters dive site aboard the Blue Surveyor. This boat was brought over from Austrialia a few years ago. The trip involved 3 days of around the clock driving and lotsa of fuel drums on the boat to get here. Our first dive is at the Three Sisters dive site. The site is made up of three towering coral. They begin at about 70 feet and extend up to 15 feet from the surface. The first thing I notice about the diving here is the abundance of soft coral. Most of the Coral is the same type but very different in color. It reminds me of a flower garden. The weather has been rainy for a week so the visibility is about 40 feet. In the Carribean were we usually dive the visibilty is 100 to 150 feet.drummers As we wind are way around the coral head the dive master is trying to get our attention. He has spotted a 6 feet white tip shark. We quickly catch up to him just in time to get a glimpse of the shark. White Tip Sharks are only found in the Pacific. We surface and move the boat near the sandy shore of a small island close by. We will take an hour break to burn off some nitrigen. After a break of cookies and orange drink we are off to do a wreck dive. This ship is about a 140 footer in 75 feet of water. From the looks of the boat it was sunk intentionally because it is in very good condition. It is common in dive locations to sink ships to create man made reefs. The coral will grow on the ship and the fish will hide in and around it. One of the things you notice very quickly are the skills of the local boat crew. They know the dive sites and know how to get to and from them without running into the reef. The reef is very shallow in this area. You can also see the surf breaking maybe a mile from where we are diving. This part of the world is famous for their surfing. You can see the pipeline moving across the horizon just a few miles away. We have the best dive masters in Fiji on our boat the Blue Surveyor. Simon is the only dive master I have seen that opens his mouth next to the reef and attract the cleaner shrimp in his mouth. Tim is the shark man, he doesn't let any get by without letting us know.Dive Masters breakfast on the boat The Lionfish is common on the reef in Fiji. They remind me of Native Americans in full head dress. The second dive of the third day I am first in the water and just behind me is a small group of White Tip Sharks. By the time I get anyone's attention the sharks are gone. A lot of the fish we see on each dive are of the smaller variety. They are rich in color and hide easily in the coral. The fourth days dive location is "ET". It is raining and overcast as we load the dingy for the ride out to the dive boat. The dive boats must be kept about 200 yards from shore because the water is very shallow. The ride out to todays dive site will take 35 minutes. The sea is unsettled today and gives me a queasy feeling. Some of the group have opted not to dive today. It takes the crew almost 30 minutes to find the buoy when they do it is just barely sticking up out of the water. We quickly get our dive gear on and into the water. Only the strong at heart can stay on the boat when it's tied to a buoy in this rough water. We go down to a max. depth of 84 feet on this dive. In addition to the Lionfish and shark we usually see we also see a little blue eel. They remind me of a little garden snake. Upon surfacing on this dive we are meet with something we have not seen all week. Sunshine. Everyone is totally ecstatic. We are really enjoying the company of the crew and are starting to act like family around each other, clowning around and playing little tricks on each other. Walking on hot coalsThe wind has now started to pick up and the sea has a wide rolling action to it that rocks the boat. Even this veteran of the sea is starting to feel sick. We will stay tied up to this buoy for 1 hour as we burn off the excess nitrigen. This is a ritual that all divers do after every dive. The deeper we dive the longer we stay out between dives. The last day of diving is an optional dive to Frigate Passage. This is a dive site out beyond where the surf has been breaking all week. The trip out is once again a rough ride. The sea is getting rougher on each passing day. The dive site called Frigate Towers is made up of towering pillars starting in 90 feet of water and extending to the surface. Once on the other side of the surf the sea is calm . This is a very strange feeling considering the ride out. My dive buddy on this dive is Cory a medical programmer in Denver, and Mike a diver that just learned to dive last year but has already logged 75 dives. We drop down to the ocean floor almost on top of a Leopard Shark. This will be the first time I have seen this variety of shark. They are similiar to a Nurse Shark with it's fat rounded face. The Nurse Shark is usually grey. The Leopard Shark is light brown with multi colored spots. I was being bold and tried to descend down behind the sleeping shark. Just as I got about a foot away he speed off. Their eye sight must be poor because he almost ran head first into the coral. We made the second dive on the other side of one of the small islands. We then headed back to Beqa. This evening being the last on the island, we are having a big party with a native band. Seven days of rain has not dampened our spirits. Lots of locals show up for the party. We dance the local dances with the Fijian girls and drink rum punch. Darrell seems to be all the girls' choice for a dance partner. We are off to bed before an early morning breakfast and boat trip back to the mainland. We are given a fresh cut flower to throw in the water as we leave. Tradition has it that if your flower drifts back to shore you will return someday. We take the Blue Seveyer for one last boat ride into the mainland. We hop the bus to Suva for Chinese food and museum tours. Then it is off to the airport for a 10pm. 10 hour flight back to the good old USA.

These are a few of our Favorite Fiji Pictures

Darrell & Kasie Sea Sick Kid Simon & Dakai Tim & Capt Jim Allan & Vince Sandy & Scott Lon & Vince
darrell & Kasie darrell sick as a pup Simon & Dakai Tim and capt Jim Allan & Vince Sandy & Scott Lon & Vince
Evie FireWalkers Native dancers Mike Bus Driver Dive Boat FireWaker
Evie FireWalkers Native Dancers Mike Bus Driver Blue Surveyor FireWalker Dive Boat
Patty Welcome Fiji Chief Ken Mark & Becky Wading to Shore Local Women Huts
Patty Welcome to Fiji Big Chief Ken Mark & Becky Wading to Shore Local Women Singers View of out hut
Gene Pool Side Hamick Relaxing Hamick Gene Joann Joann Shopping New Do Waterfall
Gene Pool Side Relaxing in the hamick Gene Relaxing Joann Scott Joann found Mall Gene'S New Do View of pool waterfall

Last updated on 6-2-2001.