My Fiji Snorkeling Trip Report December 2017

by Ray R
(New Zealand)

I wanted to share my snorkeling trip report from my visit to Fiji in December 2017.

I am a 59 year old man and I traveled alone primarily for the snorkeling. It was my first trip to Fiji (other than cruises) so was unsure what to chose from the numerous options available and the masses of reports available on TripAdvisor etc.

I eventually decided to stay at one place which had, I hoped, a good house reef and offered a variety of other island trips. I chose the Sheraton Tokoriki which is in the Mamanuca Island chain and stayed for 8 nights. Also on the island is the upmarket Tokoriki Resort (more later) and nothing else!

The first 2 days I spent exploring the house reef before going on island trips. The house reef is essentially a drop-off from 3m to 4m deep to about 20m deep with numerous different topographical features of boulders, canyons, crevices etc. It is about 1.2km long in total and from 200m to 300m from the shore.

Fiji Seascape 3

Beach access is an easy sand beach for most of the length with some rocky areas and then a swim through/over sea grass and other vegetation which then turns to rocky sea floor before the drop-off. This can be a lengthy swim if the waves are against you but the hotel does provide a jet ski tow service to get you to/from the drop-off. I found this very useful as I would normally swim out through the grass, snorkel the drop-off then get a tow back. The jet skis were very responsibly used, always leaving though a narrow channel and picking you up outside of the drop-off so as not to disturb the fish.

The reef itself was very nice, lots of hard coral of many varieties and colors. Some soft coral in many locations along the length of the reef and quite a few anemonefish. The fish variety was excellent with too many to list including various angelfish, butterflyfish, Clown Triggerfish, boxfish, Moorish Idol, Orange-lined Triggerfish, sweetlips, Titan Triggerfish, reef and black tipped sharks, eagle and blue spotted rays, green and leatherback turtles, cornetfish etc.
Fiji Clown Triggerfish

The length of the reef meant that there was always a chance of seeing new fish every swim and there were usually some larger fish, and more sharks! to be seen at the end of the day. The other surprisingly interesting aspect was the swim out through the sea grass. When the wave action was light it was very nice to relax and watch the action in the grass, there was a surprising amount of fish in this area and the ability to get very close and watch them was great. One time I was surprised when a turtle came out of the grass a meter from me and swam around me for a few minutes – fantastic!

Fiji Sea Grass Scene

I did not try and explore the adjacent Tokoriki Resort house reef as it was actively discouraged! The jet ski patrol would warn you if you strayed too far!

The only negative of the house reefs (and most of the island trips) is that the drop-off and most of the fish are quite a way below you, whilst the visibility was excellent everywhere, you are not able to swim amongst the fish but rather over them and looking down on them. Most of my other snorkeling has been on Rarotonga (and a few other Pacific islands) where you are swimming with the fish and can float amongst a shoal of fish – a great experience.

Fiji Orange-lined Triggerfish

After the first 2 days I took island trips offered both by the Sheraton and the adjacent Tokoriki Resort. All the trips were by small boats and 15 to 20 minutes to each destination. On my trips the boats were quite empty with a max of 6 people on them, they were all well done with good guides.

The locations were all quite similar, with good to excellent visibility at all location, similar fish etc. short comments of each below:

-Tavua Island: similar to house reef but a deeper drop-off, guide spotted 3 or 4 turtles for us.

-Matamanoa Island: similar to house reef but with the best and most colorful hard corals, again the guide found turtles and Clown Triggerfish.

Fiji Hard Coral

-Castaway Island (film location): interesting on-island tour, snorkeling was more of a steep sandy/rocky beach, still a lot of fish.

-Monuriki/Monu snorkel: very similar to house reef but the boat cruised with a pod of dolphins for 10 minutes on the return trip.

-Sandbar snorkel: Drop-off similar to house reef, 2 turtles, snorkeling up to the sandbar was nice and you end up swimming with the many fish as the water depth decreases.

Fiji Soft Coral

On the whole the trip was great, the weather was good – some rain but nothing to stop snorkeling!, fish variety was great, lots of colorful hard coral, some soft coral, terrific food (although expensive) and great people.

I would definitely recommend the Sheraton for a first time visit, lots of amenities at the resort and a good house reef.

Last, a few quick comments on the stay logistics. Traveling to the islands is lengthy with boat transfers after you arrive and can often involve a “wasted” night on the mainland, however it is worth looking at “fast” personal boat transfers. This enabled me to stay all my time on Tokoriki Island. I deliberately arrived out of the school holiday periods and slightly off-season. The advantage was the rates were cheaper and nothing was even mildly crowded. However the hotel was empty!! to the extent that some of the 4 restaurant options were closed and the cultural evenings were embarrassingly empty - with the performers outnumbering the guests!. Having said that everyone was terrific and the hotel staff were without fail wonderful.

Comments for My Fiji Snorkeling Trip Report December 2017

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Feb 13, 2018
Thank You!
by: Nicole & Galen

Ray, thank you for your great report about and pictures of snorkeling the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. Looks like a great time!

Feb 22, 2018
Trip of a lifetime!
by: Muffin

Beautiful! Every year my daughter and I travel somewhere to snorkel and this is our dream trip! Thanks for sharing your experience! We plan to go in a couple of years...this year is St. Lucia.

Years past we have spent time in St. Thomas and St. John, USVI due to the easy access of snorkeling right off the beaches... We are expanding our horizons due to the hurricanes last year and many of the hotels and residences are not open still. I was hoping to go and support the recovery but we cannot find suitable accommodations there...

Feb 26, 2018
Fiji Trip
by: Ray R (NZ)

Hi Muffin, glad you liked the mini report. I hope you have a great trip this year and let us know how it goes. My son and I have also done quite a few Pacific Island snorkel adventures and they are great moments.

Hope you can make it to Fiji some time, plenty of places to chose from and I hope to do a few in the next few years....

Mar 12, 2018
Fiji
by: Joe

Thank you Ray, for a great article. I have been to the Mamanucas and also the Yasawas. I always enjoy reading positive Fiji experiences.

Mar 15, 2018
Fiji comments
by: Ray R (NZ)

Thanks Joe, sounds like you have been to Fiji a few times, I will be looking at another trip in the future and was thinking of the Yasawas this time - any comments on locations?

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