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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Fiji 2019: Travel to Fiji and Day 1

Waiting for our flight
Getting to Fiji got a lot easier since our last trip (bit that it was ever really hard) because there is now a direct flight from SFO. Woot! The flight was really cheap too, which unfortunately made it impossible for me to justify paying for business class tickets. So Rob and I were slumming it in coach. Apparently Fiji airways has some auction system where you can put in a bid for an upgrade that might get confirmed shortly before the trip. Clinton did this and got upgraded. Bastard. Fortunately we all got lounge access so Rob and I were able to adequately prepare for the trip ahead (by drinking as much as possible in the allotted time). I’d never been to the Virgin lounge before. It was pretty nice and they had an adequate menu (I had a cheeseburger and a brownie sundae) which was good since we hadn’t managed to eat dinner before getting to the airport.

The flight was fine, I think we even got in a little early. I slept for a surprising amount of it. We got day rooms at the Fiji Gateway Hotel (which is the same place we got a room last time, but with a new name). It was a good place to get a shower, get some internet (which was good because I unfortunately had some work drama to deal with before going off the grid for 10 days), and have lunch. At the appointed time (1pm) we checked out and waited for our transfer to the boat. It showed up about a half our late but then we were on our way.

When we arrived at the boat, we were greeted by Vanessa and Chad, our cruise directors, and we got a basic briefing about the plan for the day. Basically we were to setup gear, go get our rooms sorted out, then reconvene for a thorough briefing on boat and dive logistics. Then we would go for a checkout (more of a shakeout) dive nearby.

Dive 1: Samu Reef (an hour outside of Lautoka)
This was our shakeout dive (but not a "checkout dive" -- not mandatory and cameras were allowed). Clinton had a problem with one strobe, so only Rob was shooting (macro).

We got in around 4:30 and the sun was already pretty low, so, as Rob and Jim would say, the light wasn’t great. Neither was the viz. there was supposed to be a little wall from around 15’ to 30’, then sloping sand and patches of reef along there. I don’t think we ever saw the main reef, we were on sand in the 50’ range with scattered coral heads the whole time. Saw 4 Chromodoris lochi, which are pretty abundant everywhere else but supposedly pretty rare here. Also found a really neat big shrimp with pink spots in a little hole. And a pretty small scorpionfish. Rob found a little fish on a whip coral which he spent quite a bit of time with. Right as we surfaced I spotted a cool purple jelly fish right under the surface so we dropped down quickly to play with that.

For dinner, we had salmon and couscous, and key lime pie (which was different than the usual but very tasty).

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