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Me diving

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Taveuni Fiji: Day 2

On our first full day of diving, we got an early start. The boat was leaving at 6am, which was not too bad since I was still on California time. We got up at 5, went to breakfast around 5:15, and started getting ready to go around 5:45. The sun came up around 5:30, so it was nice and sunny by the time we left. It was crazy windy though, big, mean whitecaps, and there was talk of whether we'd be able to make it to Rainbow Reef in these conditions. We kind of got our butts kicked on the first half of the trip. Well not really, but it was quite wet in the front of the boat (where we were) and quite a few bumps. But there was no swell at all under the wind waves, so it was alright. After about halfway there (when I guess we got across the channel/strait), it smoothed out.

The first dive was at the Great White Wall. We've dived here at least once before (Rob thinks more than once, I think once). The time I remember diving, there were a ton of divers on the boat, and at the start of the dive, there wasn't enough current for the soft corals to be that open, and at the end of the dive, the current was howling so it was a pain to get back onto the (anchored) boat. Today's dive was way way better. There was a little current, enough for the soft corals to be open more, but not so much that it made diving difficult. We hung back from the group around the top of the wall when we first got to it, and as a result, we missed the first swim through. All of a sudden everyone was gone and then a minute later, there were bubbles coming up from below us. Oh well, it was nice to have time to photograph/video without a lot of people around.

We hung back from the group in general, so by the time we got to the really white part of the wall, we were really by ourselves, which was great. I actually went ahead of Rob to get some video, and then swam back against the current to pose for some pictures. The white part of the wall was really neat, much fluffier with open soft corals than the previous dive. The viz was really good, you could look down the wall and the white soft corals just went on and on and on.

Eventually we made our way up the wall and went through a small swim through from about 55 feet up to about 40 feet, where you are on top of the wall, and there is some nice, more colorful soft coral on a structure right near where you pop out, in 30-ish feet of water. I remembered this area from last time, and remember thinking it was the nicest part of that dive. On this dive, both the wall and that area were very nice.

Around 35 minutes, the DMs led the rest of the group off to an area that I couldn't really see but didn't look as good, so we stayed where we were and I bobbed around in the current while Rob was taking pictures. You could kind of swim halfway around the structure and then ride the current around the back of it, which was pretty fun :P.

At some point earlier than expected (40-ish minutes), the DM called everyone to head to their safety stop. Of course Rob talked back, because we were supposed to have until 45 minutes. I guess the others were low on gas. So Soni (the DM) told us we could go back off to the wall just the two of us since we had a bunch of gas left. So we went back down to about 80 feet, where we saw a white tip shark cruising below us. After a few more minutes there, we headed up to do our safety stop and met back up with Soni there and then headed up together

It was an awesome dive, which definitely changed my tune on the Great White Wall. Later in the day, Soni asked Rob if he would share pictures with him, because he said this was probably the best dive conditions he's ever seen there, in terms of how far down/along the wall you could see the white corals.

We had some papaya and cinnamon rolls on the boat during the surface interval. Yum. We tried to go to a spot that has a lot of yellow soft corals, but the conditions didn't allow us to go there. So instead we went to "The Zoo" which was a spot that sloped down to a little wall, with mostly hard coral. It was not the most amazing site, but we found some cool critters. I found a tiny white Aeolid which of course I lost while trying to get Rob's attention. We searched around for a bit, but no luck. Next, I found what is one of my favorite Fiji slugs (so far), which is a bigger purple aeolid with orange rhinophores and cream-tipped cerata. There is a different purple aeolid around here, and I'd been looking all over for it yesterday, on hydroids (where I saw it once before), and now I finally this one just hauling ass across a section of the wall. So now I know there are at least two cool purple aeolids to look for.  Rob also found an octopus which was in a hole for almost the entire time I saw it, but it was quite big. Just from its eye you could tell it was big! It was squirming around in this hole and stuck a tentacle out briefl

Near the end of the dive, after we came up shallower, there were a few white tip sharks hanging around. I heard that there were three, but I only saw two. They were swimming around in the area for a while.

After that dive, we headed back in much calmer waters, and it took only about 30 minutes to get back to the resort.

For lunch, I had the veggie chow mein, which was delish. Rob was a bit jealous of what I got, I think, which was somewhat predictable.  After lunch, I had my welcome massage, which was excellent. The "spa" is a 3-sided hut along the water with the water-facing side open.

Due to weather, the boat wasn't able to go out in the afternoon. We were going to go for a shore dive, but I called it because it was too rough. Rob went without me, though, and managed to get back out of the water without getting trashed at the ladder.

We had drinks and then dinner with our new next door neighbors, who were also from the Bay Area. Rob got a really good chili pork appetizer (which we shared), I had so-so meatballs, and we shared a very tasty dessert of cheesecake with coffee ice cream.

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