On your Nai’a itinerary, you are likely to visit many of the following highlights (although most of those later on the list are reserved for the 10-day itineraries):
UndeNAI’Able: one large and two smaller sloping pinnacles with large schools of trevally and barracuda. The hard coral here supports all the usual suspects including several of Fiji’s endemics, the Fiji anemone fish, flasher wrasse and Terry’s dwarf gobie.
Cat's Meow: although it’s in deep water, this site is protected from the swell by the Vuya barrier reef. It’s a soft coral haven and much of the gorgeous soft coral featured in the IMAX film Coral Reef Adventure was shot here.
Vatu-i-ra: there are seven very distinct dives here and some are undeniably among the best coral reef dives in the world. The barrier reef protrudes north from Viti Levu into the Vatu-i-ra Channel, narrowing the channel to only 4.5 miles across. The area is regularly flushed by currents, which is why the reefs are so healthy.
Mt.Mutiny: this is a seamount with a concentration of pelagics and other fish life with a backdrop of the unusual, thin-stalked Chironephthya soft coral (in a broad range of colors) which blankets the south flank of the pinnacle. Known as one of the prettiest soft coral dives anywhere.
E-6: a seamount rising sheer-sided from 3,000 feet right in the center of the narrowest part of a channel, E-6 intercepts the flow of nutrients funneled between the two large islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Pelagics are normally found on the two sides of the pinnacle flushed by currents, while delicate soft corals and fans decorate the protected lee side. Dives at E-6 feature schooling barracuda, trevally, and surgeonfish, occasional hammerhead sharks and eagle rays, and a plethora of reef fish including anthias, fusiliers, and leaf scorpionfish.
Namena Marine Reserve
North Save-a-tack Passage: at 95’ you’ll find an expansive sandy bottom alongside a sheer drop-off from which dogtooth tuna, grey reef sharks. The occasional scalloped hammerhead comes in to mix things up. You’ve also got large, over-fed groupers waiting to nail any fish trying to avoid the sharks & barracudas. After enjoying time with the big guys, the current carries you deeper into the channel, where a line of bommies, connected by an arch, are alive with color: gorgonia fans, black coral, soft coral, and every reef fish imaginable. You can then allow yourself to drift even further into the channel to Kansas, a small bommie covered with Sinularia soft coral which looks just like wheat fields swaying in the wind. This spot deserves at least two days of diving to appreciate fully.
Two Thumbs Up, Tetons, Mushrooms : Each of these distinct dive sites on Namena’s southerly barrier reef consists of two pinnacles covered in fans and soft corals as thick and colourful as any in Fiji – the perfect sites for wide angle photographers. But, just to complicate things for photographers, the bottom is littered with jawfish, shrimp gobies, fire dartfish, adhesive anemones and assorted juveniles where you'll want that macro lens! You'll also find coral trout, schools of paddletail snappers, cleaner wrasses & hundreds of garden eels.
Koro Sea - Gau:
Jim's Alley & Anthias Avenue: multi-hued soft coral gardens in shallow water, home to zillions of diverse reef fish. Also, this is a regular stop for four or five mantas. Macro photographers are happy, too, due to the profusion of little creatures living among the hard corals, soft corals, and fans.
Nigali Passage: a narrow channel which attracts pelagics from miles around. Home to 10-25 female grey reef sharks and their offspring, the passage also features a huge school of trevally, three age-segregated schools of barracuda, several big Malabar groupers. The edges of the passage and the bommies in the shallows are entirely lined in gorgeous soft coral.
Wakaya: there’s a barrier reef bordering a 3,000-foot deep channel that leads to the Vatu-i-ra Passage where humpbacks, sperm and pilot whales pass during the season. Other frequently sighted animals are the resident manta rays at cleaning stations and hammerhead sharks. Grey reef and white tip sharks are resident along the drop-off but it is the healthy coral and the critters that live in it that often excite divers the most: blue-ribbon eels, leaf scorpionfish, posing lionfish and the very rare Helfrich’s dartfish.
Makogai: a serious critter diving opportunity with several small bommies which rise close to the surface from a rubble bottom in 30-40ft. The quality rubble is home to ghost pipefish, dragonets, all manner of nudibranchs and, frequently, octopus. In crevices and caves in the bommies live scorpionfish while pygmy seahorses decorate gorgonian coral.