Dear F&F, August 18th – August 21st
Namena Island and Dive Reserve
Namena Island is 20 miles southwest of Savusavu and en-route to Suva, Fiji\’s Capital City. The Moody\’s who own Namena, collect an annual $25.00 Fijian per person to use the islands dive sites and two moorings. This fee is given to the few islanders who used to live here from what we understand. When we arrived at Namena, another boat was on the mooring that we could use (the second one was too close to the reef for our length), so we anchored. At first, we just relaxed and caught up from our whirlwind tour of North Fiji and chilled out. The anchoring conditions were not ideal and we were getting into less than 7 feet of water occasionally. As such, we were happy to pick up the mooring on our second full day at Namena.
The next day we went ashore where we met Nigel. Nigel is primary dive guide and confirmed that the Moody\’s do not allow outside visitors to go with their dive operation. Apparently, The Moody\’s owned a resort in the San Blas Islands of Panama and were burned out by drug smugglers and hence have a bit of bias about outsiders. We did not meet Mr. Moody, but Nigel told us the story and apparently he will only take his own guests from his resort. Most days their dive boat isn\’t close to full, but it\’s just another of those stories from the South Pacific.
Nigel was very helpful and said if necessary we could follow the dive boat to any of the sites. As we had very good GPS coordinates provided by Collin of \”Koro Sun Divers\” in Savusavu, we went it alone. The current can be quite strong at \”North Save-A-Tack Pass\”, home to the dive site, \”Grand Central Station\”.
We hit the site just before slack high tide and found it to be a winner – as advertised. It even had a bit of a \”train station\” feel to it, but that\’s not why it\’s called Grand Central Station. A large sand flat about 65-90 feet deep goes right to the square edge of the reef. There, the drop off is straight down to around 300+ feet. The edge of this cliff was amazing. Gray Reef sharks, schools of barracuda with 400+ animals, large jack schools, cleaner station pinnacles and more. We saw small schools of yellow fin tuna too.
It was pretty rough out there, but the dive was well worth it.
That afternoon, we did the other main entrance to the reef, \”South Save-A-Tack Pass\”. Here we dove \”The Chiminey\’s\”. This was a classic \”Cindy Dive\” and of course I could think of little else while swimming around the five pinnacles all within sight of each other. There we swim through\’s, schools of 10,000+ bright orange Anthias, Square Spot Anthias, Lion Fish, Clowns and many species of anemones. Schools of Unicorn Fish (yes they have horns like unicorns!), COLOR, COLOR, COLOR and….it was easy diving.
Anja and I were even able to \”school\” inside the barracuda school here and watch endlessly while large Jacks came in to have their gills cleaned by the small cleaner wrasse. These wrasse are the sea going equivalent of a dental hygienist.
We were able to hit the tides right again the next day and did both dives a second time. Both sites, just as good the second time. On our second day, Sally and Dave from s/v \”Sidewinder\” out of Laguna Beach, California did the dive out of their dinghy as well. They had a guide from the Cousteau resort with them and it was even rougher. We all had an adventure and a good time doing Grand Central Station again.
Tomorrow we head off to our next island, \”Makongai\” (Makongneye), home to one of the South Pacific\’s former Leper Colonies and now a Marine Research Station…. KIT, Scott with Anja