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Is it time for FIJI again in Sept 2013?


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#16 WreckWench

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 07:09 PM

Bequ Lagoon is known for its fire dancers and well lagoon diving. Voli Voli is known for the action and big animals of the Blight Waters... the best of both worlds for a fraction of the cost of a liveaboard.

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#17 Buzo Guero

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:03 PM

Honestly, Kamala, I had no intention of disparaging your plans. Just providing feedback. I apologize if I offended.

#18 Diver Ed

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 12:37 PM

My friend and I have made our way to Beqa Lagoon Resort. After some initial problems with my flight, where I walked into the airport only to be told that my flights have been rebooked for the next day, I managed to make connections, and we arrived with our luggage Saturday morning local time. We did a couple of dives on Sunday, and are getting ready for another day of diving now. This place is gorgeous. More to follow when I have time. Ed

#19 WreckWench

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 01:49 PM

Honestly, Kamala, I had no intention of disparaging your plans. Just providing feedback. I apologize if I offended.



Did not take it that way...but I appreciate the feedback... I'm just trying to figure out where people want to do :diver:

And I am VERY interested in what Ed aka Diver Ed has to say after doing this trip which he is on right now. He has been on a lot of SD trips and has helped with trip research behind the scenes in the past so his input will be as good as if I went myself! :respect:

He will let me know if these resorts are the way to go or if we need to find another operation. I have contacted the one you mentioned for more information.

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
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#20 AquaSpud

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 03:32 AM

Butting in again,

I did a 1 week trip to Beqa Lagoon Resort April 2012 as part of a group trip with my LDS. If my experience is any interest, please inquire, I'm happy to share (public or PM).

Butting back out now....

AquaSpud

Edited by AquaSpud, 26 March 2013 - 03:33 AM.

"SCUBA"... the ONLY activity demanding artificial life support to participate...

#21 Sqbagal

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 08:09 AM

According to friends who have been to Beqa lagoon, it's wonderful and they'd go back. Posted Image Since 2013 is fully planned and 2014 has Truk and Galapagos, are we now looking at 2015? This combination is very appealing, I've not been to Fiji and I wouldn't mind 2 weeks to do it up right, just need to get it penciled in. I know that in 2015, I'm committed to a late October/early November event as well as the usual first week in December meetings. if you can work around that, I'm in!! Posted Image
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#22 Buzo Guero

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:29 AM

Butting in again,

I did a 1 week trip to Beqa Lagoon Resort April 2012 as part of a group trip with my LDS. If my experience is any interest, please inquire, I'm happy to share (public or PM).

Butting back out now....

AquaSpud


Formerly Joel,

I'd be more than interested in hearing your story, either publicly or via PM.

:thankyou:/>

#23 AquaSpud

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:20 AM

Butting in again,

I did a 1 week trip to Beqa Lagoon Resort April 2012 as part of a group trip with my LDS. If my experience is any interest, please inquire, I'm happy to share (public or PM).

Butting back out now....

AquaSpud


Formerly Joel,

I'd be more than interested in hearing your story, either publicly or via PM.

Posted Image/>


This was my first (and until 05/2013 Dominica SD trip; only) international dive trip; so my opinions have nothing to measure against. Also, this is my opinion/experience, and mine alone.

My LDS in Idaho offered a group dive trip to Beqa Lagoon Resort last April (2012) which I eagerly took advantage of. Overall I was/am very satisfied with the whole experience. The "package" was sold as an "all inclusive" LAX to LAX and it truly was. We all met up at LAX and flew as a group to the main island of Viti Levu. We were met at the airport by the resort's arranged transportation of a very adequate charter bus and an additional box truck for luggage. We were taken across the island to the marina on the south coast (airport is located in Nadi, near the Northwest shore). This leg of the trip was about 90 minutes total with a stop about half way in a small town to shop for souvenirs, stretch your legs, and/or rehydrate. This was followed by a 50 minute boat ride to the neighboring island of Mbengga.

The Beqa (pronounced "Ben-Ga") Lagoon resort is located on the west coast of the island and I have yet to find a photo that does it justice. It truly is beautiful! We were greeted, as we waded ashore (there isn't even a dock), by a small group of the locals singing a welcome to us and presenting each of us with a lay. All were smiling and genuinely seemed glad to see us. This never changed throughout the entire week.

The resort facilities were quite nice for some place so remote. Most group activities take place in the main Bure (a large building open on two of the four sides where all meals, lectures, per-dinner entertainment, and happy hour). We were one of three groups there that week. We had plenty of opportunity to mingle but also had our own space w/o feeling like we were sitting in one another's lap.

The grounds were immaculate and worthy of any country club; with paved walkways and fastidious landscaping.

The rooms (bures) were clean, comfortable, inviting, and not a bad view in the bunch. They are 240v Australian power so bring your converter. No fridge and no A/C but neither was missed. Beds were really comfortable after a long day fo diving (two AM boat dive w/ unlimited shore diving before/after).

The diving:
The boat diving was well organized and on time. The resort is well equipped and reasonabley maintained (if I recall correctly; we only had one small boat equipment failure during the week which was handled within 20 minutes and did not shorten any of the diving for the day) There were 2 or three dive boats available to accommodate the different dive groups as well as an adequate number of dive masters to chaparone the different groups. The west side of the island is encompassed with a broad barrier reef and all diving while at the resort took place inside this barrier with the exception with one wall dive on the outside face of the barrier (I can't comment on if this is standard or what was chosen by our trip coordinator). The only downside to this profile was that the weather was not ideal that week (we had 1 half day of sunshine all week; the rest being overcast to rainy). This created to conditions: lower light conditions than normal, and poorer vis due to the excess fresh water in the "bowl" of the reef. That said; the diving was not a dissapointment by any means.

What was a bit of a disappointment was the dives were all single group "cattle-car" dives where everyone was moved along en masse. The other thing that surprised me was the "familiarity" of the DMs; though this is probably more due to my own inexperience (and advancing age :lmao:/> ). There was a fair amount of horsing around, showing off, and "casualness" that I wasn't expecting. Gloves were not permitted to discourage contact with the reef; yet the DMs were almost constantly kneeling, grabbing, or finning the very same coral that was supposed to be in need of protecting. The worst moment was when my buddy sucked his tank dry at 65 ft. and bolted to the surface. I will give props to the DM as he saw it happen and took off after him almost immediately. But, as he reached him and tried to regain some sort of controlled assent, one of his weight pouches got dislodged and went falling past me and both shot uncontrolled to the surface. Fortunately both were ok though it ended their diving for the day. I know I probably have too high of an expectation of dive "professionals" as I have thought "what would I do in his place" and don't have any earth-shattering revelations to offer. What cemented it for me was when I saw the weight pocket go past me, and him with my buddy, I retrieved the pocket. When I tried to give it back to him back on the boat, he denied it. Only after another DM took inventory of the resort's weight on board was he willing to admit it was probably his.
These men are young (early twenty's), have been diving these sites all their lives, and hauling us once-a-year tourists around the same old sites, week, after week, after week, and I can see how easy it would b to be come complacent, even if just for a moment. My take-away is we are each ultimately responsible for our own safety. If my buddy would have managed/monitored his air properly... responded to his own out-of-air situation as we were trained in OW, none of the rest would have even been an issue. But; this is why we pay for pros accompanying us.

Back to the diving; the corral was vibrant, healthy, and plentiful. The marine life was also plentiful. Because the weather was not cooperating; the shark dive was canceled on island. The resort did want to meet its commitment and arranged a shark dive back on the main island upon our return, which brought me as close to 14' to 16' tigers, as I ever care to be again (I could literally hear them crunch the bones of the tuna heads they were being fed as they swam past and over our heads).
The shore diving was nothing to write home about. It was readily available (both our own equipment being kept by the resort; as well as tanks and weights). I am chalking this up to all the rain. Vis was ok, not great, and the marine life was scarce. With the amount of rain, and runoff, I can certainly understand why the marine life would beat feet to deeper water until things got back to normal.

Surface Intervals:
The food was awesome. The majority is locally sourced (ie. "potato" is usually from one, or two, locally grown plants that are in no way related to the tuber, but just as tasty, and a hell of a lot more healthy). Alcohol is no more, and no less, expensive than most tourist areas ($6-$8/beer... $8- $10/cocktail).
Kava... If you ever tried to eat library paste as a child; try it (the ceremony itself is worth the need to go brush your teeth)(no... it is NOT a hallucinogen {but you WILL become inebriated w/o the hangover tomorrow?})
We brought supplies for the school (the one school on the island covers K through 12). As always, the gifts were received with grace and appreciation. Their reception left us feeling as if we had received more than they had.
There is an opportunity to buy souvenirs from true locals (much better choice in MY opinion).

Lastly.... .... .... (really don't want to talk about this.... can you tell) THE FIRE WALK. They do DO a fire dance. It was NOT what I have ever read, or heard, about a fire walk (a looooong walk down a pool-length mound of brightly glowing coals). The reality was an average national park fire pit (8'-10') that smoldered for 3ish hours (granted it WAS rainy/drizzly) with a couple of very large rocks and a very large palm trunk dragged across just before "the walk"). When they "walk" they step from the outer ring to a big stone, to the tree trunk, to another large stone, and back to the trunk, pose for pictures, and step off. I applauded as if I was watching my first-born in their first school play; but honestly I felt that the program the school put on for us was more honest and pure of heart.
Please don't get me wrong, from the moment I set foot on their island, to the moment they returned me to the airport, they (the Fijians) never showed ANYTHING but graciousness and gratitude in hosting their incredible part of this planet.
If you choose to go, my challenge to you would be to, impact them as positively as I know they are going impact you. That is a very high bar indeed.

Respectfully,

Joel aka AquaSpud
"SCUBA"... the ONLY activity demanding artificial life support to participate...

#24 Sqbagal

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:26 AM

FABULOUS trip report, AquaSpud! Posted Image

Since we have the Fiji discussion going in two threads, I may post this in both to double my chances that DiverEd sees it.

DiverEd - Would you compare/contrast your experiences from your October trip to Beqa Lagoon and Volivoli? I'm thinking about a land-based trip next year and your first-hand input would be appreciated. I have friends who've been to Beqa Lagoon and they loved it, and now that AquaSpud has confirmed their ravings, I'm wondering how Volivoli compares....Posted Image
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#25 Buzo Guero

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:23 PM

:thankyou:/> , Joel!!! I've been to Fiji. I appreciate the info on Beqa. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that when I next return, it'll be the live-aboard option. I loved the islands & everything they had to offer. When I go back, all I want to do is dive, though.

#26 WreckWench

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:12 PM

Because the discussion has moved to diving Fiji in 2015 due to adding the liveaboard into the equation and adding a land based week we are inclined to do Beqa Lagoon for all the reasons stated. (Ed did post a dive report where he talked about the differences in the diving and resorts so we'll try to find it so he doesn't have to retype everything again.) Basically they are very different...one very traditional Fijian and the other more European. One is closer to the Bligh waters (more chances to see big animals but also more risk of high waves and more difficult dive conditions...think open water vs protected lagoon) and the other is on the lagoon side of the island. I recall that Ed said VoliVoli was built into a mountain side so big views but also lots of stairs. Both resorts are good but it depends on what you want. I also recall more food selections at BL vs Voli. (VoliVoli is still very new so may have added more offerings as they mature and run more divers thru.)

Either would be a good trip for you if you don't want to wait until 2015 and each of them LOVES SingleDivers.com so we'd be happy to book you so you could use our clout while staying there. (Never hurts to have the clout of your 8000+ member dive club behind you!) ;)/>

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
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864-557-6079 tel/celfone/office or tollfree fax 888-480-0906

#27 Diver Ed

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:23 PM

That is an excellent and extensive report that Joel wrote, and i agree with a lot of it. I actually felt that the dive guides were better in Beqa than at Volivoli, but I am really not a great judge of dive guides. If they say they are taking the group to the right, I often head to the left, so I do not spend a lot of time near them. If not that, I usually get in the water before them, and head to the right ahead of them. Kamala's recap of my report is accurate in comparing the resorts. Volivoli did have a sloping walkway, not steps, and it was an inconvenience for me due to back issues that I have, but the other people with me were fine with it. I head out of town Friday for a couple of weeks, so I will be unable to respond to any questions for a while. If you do decide to do the trip before Kamala puts a Singledivers trip together, you will not go wrong having her put a trip together just like the one she did for me. We spent the first week at Beqa and the second week at Volivoli. She also got us a few dollars off, and a couple of extras. The one downside is that they both schedule 2 dives a day. Beqa did not want to do a third, and Volivoli required 5-6 divers saying yes to a third. We only managed that one day, even though our group had 4 people. I know Kamala would arrange 3 dives a day when she does the group trip. I really like the 10 day live aboard option, and think the second half of May, 2015 is a great time. It gets further out of the rainy season that Joel experienced on his April trip, and the water has not cooled down much yet. The beginning of June would also be a great option. Ed


FABULOUS trip report, AquaSpud! Posted Image

Since we have the Fiji discussion going in two threads, I may post this in both to double my chances that DiverEd sees it.

DiverEd - Would you compare/contrast your experiences from your October trip to Beqa Lagoon and Volivoli? I'm thinking about a land-based trip next year and your first-hand input would be appreciated. I have friends who've been to Beqa Lagoon and they loved it, and now that AquaSpud has confirmed their ravings, I'm wondering how Volivoli compares....Posted Image



#28 Sqbagal

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 05:39 PM

Thanks, Ed. I agree that end of May would be best; however I can't go then due to work commitments and I would cry and stamp my feet and throw myself on the ground in a really big hissy fit if that is when the trip goes.... I was hoping for end of April but alas that trip is already full. Looking at availability on the Siren site, many of the 10-day trips are already full in 2015, so that limits options as well. And, the price jumps big time to do the end of 2015!
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#29 AquaSpud

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 02:39 AM

Just a follow-up to my previous report and the kind comments from others willing to compare and/or relate their own perceptions to my own...

Other than the last day's shark dives (2) on the main island; I have NEVER been to another part of Fiji and offer NO comparison. I have never (before, or since) been outside the United States borders. I have NO experience, or opinion, regarding Volivoli, or live-boards... and offer no comparison. My previous post is only MY OWN "rookie" "First- timers" experience (with absolutely nothing to compare it to). Bottom line: the local Beqans' were kind, gracious, and most hospitable. The accommodations were most adequate. And the local dive professionals were young and enthusiastic; but perhaps in need of a little more awareness (and respect for the amazing gift they are the sole custodians of).
I agree that, inside the lagoon, is "bathtub diving" (though the outer wall, and the shark dives on the unprotected western side of Viti Livu (main island) did not have strong currents on the day {1 each/ and 4 days apart}).

There can be found a small amount of negative commentary regarding the "international ownership" of the resort on the web; however, going there (as the classic Eeyore), I could see NO abuse; only a proud, kind, gentle, humble, and giving society, that we in "The States" could learn a lot from (this should get me "flamed"). (BTW: did you know; we taste a lot like chicken? Think about that the next time you try explaining what rabbit tastes like.... Posted Image/> )

I guess after all is said; I am trying to do my miniscule part to diminish the rest of the world's view of the "ugly american" and embrace, and even learn from my global kin. Fiji is a wonderful (and gentle) place to start.

With the utmost respect Posted Image/> to you taking the time to read this,

Joel

Edited by AquaSpud, 09 April 2013 - 05:31 AM.

"SCUBA"... the ONLY activity demanding artificial life support to participate...

#30 WreckWench

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:53 AM

I guess after all is said; I am trying to do my miniscule part to diminish the rest of the wold's view of the "ugly american" and embrace, and even learn from my global kin. Fiji is a wonderful (and gentle) place to start.

With the utmost respect :respect:/> to you taking the time to read this.


Well said! :respect:

And we too do our part...albeit a small part...to erase the "ugly American" mystic. We take school supplies to the orphans and foster homes in the countries we visit. In fact when we took them to the Maldives we were told we were the first group to EVER take them supplies and some funds. WOW! And we were quite happy we had a suitcase full of supplies. :respect:

Even just having an 'Awareness' is huge... thank you for giving us all a great reminder to ALWAYS SHOW OUR KINDER AND MORE GENTLER SIDE!!! :respect:

p.s Reading your posts so far have been a treat! You are a very articulate and compassionate conveyor of your thoughts thru the written word! :teeth:

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
SD LEGACY/OLD/MANUAL Forms & Documents.... here !

Click here TO PAY for Merchandise, Membership, or Travel
"Imitation is the sincerest flattery." - Gandhi
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Kamala Shadduck c/o SingleDivers.com LLC
2234 North Federal Hwy, #1010 Boca Raton, FL 33431
formerly...
710 Dive Buddy Lane; Salem, SC 29676
864-557-6079 tel/celfone/office or tollfree fax 888-480-0906




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