top of page

Scuba Diving in Fiji: A Guide to Rainbow Reef and Taveuni Island

Updated: Jun 19

In this travel guide for scuba diving in Fiji, we will tell you everything you need to know to plan the dive trip of a lifetime around Taveuni Island, featuring one of the world's best dive locations: The Rainbow Reef.



CONTENTS




 


BULA!

About The Rainbow Reef


In Fijian, Bula is a common yet special greeting, meaning Hello - but its direct translation is actually ‘Life’ and it is used in lots of situations! It's a phrase that you’ll find yourself using even after leaving Fiji and one that always makes you smile.


Just hearing the words Scuba Diving plus Fiji, you know you are in store for something magical. Fiji is made up of more than 300 volcanic islands with miles and miles of coastlines and reefs to explore.



Gateway to the Rainbow Reef Fiji
Gateway to the Rainbow Reef


This includes the Great Sea Reef – the third largest barrier reef in the world - the Coral Coast – 80km of stunning coastline on Viti Levu, and the ultimate dive location that attracts divers from all over the world – the Rainbow Reef.


The Rainbow Reef is in the Somosomo Strait between Fiji’s second and third largest islands: Vanua Levu and Taveuni. It is known as the Soft Coral Capital of the World, with over 230 species of both hard and soft coral and home to tens of thousands of marine species.


There are over 30 dive sites for you to explore, plus some brilliant shore dives, so if you're looking to go scuba diving in Fiji, you are going to want to make sure the Rainbow Reef features in your itinerary.



 


This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you make a purchase through this website, at no cost to you. I only link to products I use and love.


A Few Things to Know About Visiting Fiji


As a UK citizen, you can travel in Fiji for up to 4 months visa-free - giving you ample time to explore these many islands.


There are three official languages in Fiji: Fijian, English and Fiji Hindi.


Cash is still king in Fiji; you’ll likely only use a card within major resorts. The currency is Fijian Dollars (FJ$) with an exchange rate of FJ$ 10 to GB £3.50 (as of 01/24).


You can order Fijian Dollars from the UK Post Office, Travelex in NZ, or withdraw from an ATM at Nadi airport and across Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. ATMs are not common outside built-up areas so plan accordingly.


You can get a tourist sim at Nadi Airport (can’t miss it) and there are two options: Digicel and Vodafone. Both offer physical sims but only Digicel offers an e-sim option. Digicel was FJ$ 50 for a 30-day sim with 225 GB of data.



 


Not sure what to pack for your trip to Fiji? Check out the I Dream of Mangoes article:



 


How to Get to the Best Dive Sites in Fiji


You can dive The Rainbow Reef from either Taveuni ‘Garden Island’ or Vanua Levu ‘Big Island’. Both islands have numerous domestic flights from Nadi (Fiji’s International Airport).


We chose to stay on Taveuni (I will explain why later) - which is a 1h25m flight from Nadi, operated by Fiji Airways and booked through Skyscanner.


Our flight to Taveuni was actually on a Vikings DHC-6 Twin Otter plane – which is an experience in itself! The Twin Otter is a propeller plane that only carries around 15 people, and it soars the skies super-low for a stunning view of the Fiji Archipelago out of the window. 



Fiji from a low-flying plane
Fiji from the Twin Otter window


This flight was £220 return including checked baggage. (If you book alongside a Fiji Airways international flight to Nadi (for example from New Zealand) you’ll get 32kg included in the basic option.)


If this seems beyond your price range, fear not! There is a slower, but cheaper option. You'll need to take a 4-hour bus from Nadi to Suva, and then an overnight ferry to Taveuni. All of the details can be found here - this option will only set you back around £40 each way.



 

FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE for Fiji, do what U do and have a browse on Travel Supermarket and choose a cheap policy with a high Defaqto rating.


 


Where to Stay when Scuba Diving in Fiji


If you are looking to centre your trip to Fiji around diving on the Rainbow Reef (like we were) I would strongly recommend choosing Taveuni Island as your base, for the following reasons:


  • Travel convenience: Once your domestic flight from Nadi lands, on Taveuni, your onward journey can be up to 1 hour to your resort, and this shuttle service is normally complimentary. Whereas landing in Savusavu on Vanua Levu you need to travel 2-3 hours further to your resort near the Rainbow Reef. 


  • Proximity to dive sites: The western side of Taveuni is within a 20-minute boat ride of all the dive sites on the Rainbow Reef, which is the closest you can get!


  • Taveuni is known as the Garden Island for a reason: With pristine rainforests and beautiful coastlines - to us, Taveuni had more of a remote tropical paradise vibe than Vanua Levu. There are also lots of activities on the island, which is ideal for non-diving days. 



Sunset at our scuba diving resort Taveuni Fiji
Sunset at our scuba diving resort

Note: When on the boat or driving around Taveuni, be on the lookout for the private islands around this strait, you may spot a celebrity or two!



 


When to Go Scuba Diving in Fiji


Fiji is a year-round diving destination, with visibility and surface-side weather peaking from May through September. We travelled to Fiji to go scuba diving in September, which is the best time for the Great White Wall.


While we occasionally saw other boats about, we never ran into another group at dive sites - which is ideal!


It's also worth knowing that Humpback Whale season is from June to September – another reason to choose this time of year!


As some may already know the marine ecosystem is intrinsically linked with the phases of the moon - so the time of month you choose also plays a factor. For instance, corals have mass spawning events during the time of the full moon. 


However, there is a flip side to this, as full moons are also associated with stronger currents. If you can, you should plan your dive trip dates to avoid the full moon (and new moon) - especially if you want to dive the most famous dive site at Rainbow Reef – The Great White Wall.



Diving the Great White Wall Taveuni Fiji
Diving the Great White Wall

There is of course diving all month long, but the best displays of Soft Coral are at more exposed dive sites. If the currents are too strong here, dive companies will opt for more sheltered sites.


FYI even with the 'strong currents' - Rainbow Reef is still beginner-friendly. My friend Erin is a novice diver, and she developed her buoyancy skills and gained a lot of confidence diving here.



 


Where to Stay in Taveuni & Choosing a Dive Shop


I prefer to dive with 5-star rated PADI shops where possible. On Taveuni, there are four 5-star rated PADI shops: Paradise Taveuni Dive, Taveuni Dive, Garden Island Resort and Nakia Resort & Dive (also known as Taveuni Ocean Sports).


While it's not necessary to stay at the resort your chosen dive shop is in, there isn’t a huge amount of accommodation on Taveuni; staying and diving in the same place makes for an easier trip with less commuting time (be warned the roads are very bumpy!). 


We chose Paradise Taveuni as they were offering a great deal, were very communicative and offered unlimited free shore dives. And honestly, this week was one of the best of my life – if we hadn’t booked and paid for the next leg of our journey we probably would’ve stayed longer. 



Erin enjoyin a sundowner at Paradise resort taveuni Fiji
Erin enjoying a sundowner at Paradise

I think a good testament to how amazing Paradise Taveuni is, is that we met several people who were regular customers of theirs, who return year after year. These loyal clients love and appreciate Paradise so much, that they came and helped rebuild it when it was destroyed by Cyclone Winston in 2016. 


As you walk into the resort, you'll tread on paths made up of coral washed ashore in the Cyclone, that serve as a reminder of everything that was lost, but also what still endures. The staff then greet you with a ‘Bula!’ as you first lay eyes on the beautiful grounds of Paradise.


You’ll see your entrance to the Rainbow Reef and dock with phenomenal shore dives - I never would’ve known the reef was decimated only 7 years previous (we dropped down off the dock to see two octopuses!). 


Paradise Taveuni has 2 boats, and the guides and crew were fab! Having an enthusiastic team on board with a good eye for spotting wildlife really makes a difference on scuba diving trips!



Scuba divers and instructor Fiji
Me, Erin and our Divemaster

Allan, the owner, was an outstanding chef, and all the staff took great care of us (thank you to Flo, Mike, AP, Eta, Rose, Soni and everyone else!). 


By the end of your time here, you’ll be sad to go and hearing the staff sing Isa lei – the Fijian farewell song – may even bring you to tears as it did for me!



 


The Price of Scuba Diving in Fiji


In September 2023, we paid FJD $8320 (£2900) for 2 people for 7 nights in a Vale* which included: 


  • All meals: Cooked breakfast and fruits, 2-course lunch, and 3-course dinner. A range of Fijian and Western options each day.

  • 10 Dives on The Rainbow Reef

  • 4 Shore Dives (more if we wanted!)

  • 1 Night Dive

  • Snorkel Gear

  • Taveuni Airport pick up/drop off

  • A Welcome foot massage

  • Another 30-minute massage

  • Fiji Night Celebration 

  • Plus a range of complimentary activities; everything from Fijian lessons and Sulu tying to Kayaking and Garden tours. 

  • We then spent an extra FJD $1200 on drinks, island tours, gear hire and souvenirs. 



The courtyard of our Vale at Paradise
The courtyard of our Vale at Paradise

*The word Vale originally means ‘Family House’ in Fijian, and at Paradise, this meant an air-conditioned, oceanfront cottage with an outdoor lava stone shower!



Our Lava Stone outdoor shower Fiji
Our Lava Stone outdoor shower!

We chose to splurge and have a little bit of luxury for our scuba diving trip to Fiji, but there are cheaper options if you are backpacking on a budget.


After finding Paradise Taveuni on the PADI Dive Shops Search we booked a package directly with them, however, most resorts are also found on booking.com.


 


Top Dive Sites on the Rainbow Reef



1. The Great White Wall


The Great White Wall is rated as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world – and it is worth coming all the way to Fiji just to dive here!


At this site, after travelling down through a swim-through, you emerge at a depth of 25m to the Great White Wall. With the right timing, you can witness the soft white corals just after they’ve bloomed, making the entire wall a dazzling white, contrasting beautifully with the big Blue.


This dive must be done on a slack low tide and timed well to avoid the strong currents of the full moon; however, these strong currents are what open the corals, so the best time frame is shortly after.


With the wall sitting around 25m to 60m, you'll need your Advanced Open Water to access it. The coral wasn’t the only amazing thing about this site – you can see Spotted Eagle Rays, Nudibranchs, Dartfish, Orangutan Crabs and potentially a passing Manta if you keep an eye on the blue.



2. Cabbage Patch


Cabbage Patch is another site that shows the wonders of coral, the cabbage coral (also known as yellow scroll coral) has a widespread distribution but is unusual to see – they are listed as ‘vulnerable’ by IUCN.


The patch here is over 400 years old and at some points over 2 metres tall, located around 13 – 15m deep. This coral patch is one of those ‘looks too good to be real sites’ and well worth exploring.


Diving this site, you’ll also see a field of garden eels, schools of striped fusiliers, and giant healthy staghorn corals.



Cabbage Patch Dive Site Fiji
Cabbage Patch Dive Site


3. Rainbow Passage


I understood how the Rainbow Reef got its name when diving this site! I’ve never seen so many different colours underwater!


A favourite with the locals, this dive has a strong but steady current that takes you past thousands of brightly coloured fish and coral - it's impossible to list them all - it is a truly healthy and thriving reef and it's because of places like Rainbow Passage that people get addicted to scuba diving.



4. Purple Wall 


Imagine the Great White Wall but this time, Purple! When we went, this dive site was a little less relaxed than others with a very strong vertical surge making it a fast-paced dive – so not ideal for macro lovers who like to have a peek around!


It was stunning nonetheless, with purple coral trees, sea fans and whip corals. Conditions can always vary, so hopefully it’ll be a bit more relaxed for you!



The purple wall dive site Fiji
The Purple Wall dive site


5. AA


This site made it into my top five due to the wide range of marine life we saw. When we arrived at the site, we quickly spotted a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins, unfortunately by the time we kitted up they’d swam off, but we dropped into a shiver of White-tipped Reef Sharks who were actively hunting.


Next came schools of Barracuda, Parrotfish, and Blue Clownfish guarding their egg clutch. And to top it all off a Day Octopus out of its hidey hole! This site had a great diversity of corals and marine life.



 


Non-Diving Things to Do on Taveuni


There aren’t many roads on Taveuni and while there are taxis (ones you call, not hail from the side of the road) the best way to see the sites is arranged via your resort.


They can arrange tours for the following that will often include transport, guides, any entry fees, and lunch. Prices differ depending on the resort and activities.


For an example of prices, we did 4 activities as a bundle for one whole day, including lunch, for FJ$175 (£60) per person.



Walk the Bouma Falls Track


The Bouma Falls Track is a beautiful trail showcasing 3 waterfalls, that are all perfect for swimming and jumping if you're an adrenaline seeker like me!


This walk really shows off why Taveuni is called the Garden Island – the fauna is stunning, so bring your camera. At the base of the track is a great spot for lunch by the river.



Waterfall on Bouma Falls Track Taveuni Fiji
Waterfall on Bouma Falls Track


Waitavala Natural Waterslides


A super fun natural waterslide, and a great way to cool off from the Fijian heat!



Waitavala Natural water Slide Fiji
Waitavala Natural Waterslides


Go to the International Dateline 


This is a famous landmark where you hop from one day to the next, taking a photo with each foot on two different days. (A bit of a challenge to find on your own so best done with a guide.)



Fiji Night!


Fiji Night is where you can experience authentic Fijian cooking in a Lovo (earth oven), watch the traditional Meke dancing and have a taste of Kava during the Yaqona Ceremony with storytelling and more dancing!


Kava is a traditional drink made from some crushed plant roots, and it is common across Polynesia. Pacific Islanders have partaken in the ceremonial drinking of Kava for hundreds of years.


It is technically a 'controlled substance' in the UK, however the Kava you will be offered on Fiji Night will be a very diluted version, and it is not considered rude if you choose not to partake.


This experience of Fiji Night was included in our stay at the resort - where it was held once per week, and it was one of our favourite things to do in Fiji!



Lavena Coastal Walk


The Lavena Coastal Walk is a 10km out-and-back stunning trek that ends with a little swim to see a glorious hidden waterfall. 


There is an FJ$30 entry fee (if not included with your tour) and it's an easy to moderate walk with some water crossings. (It is possible at high tide to arrange a boat to collect you at the end so you don’t have to walk the return.)



Hiking in Taveuni Fiji
Hiking on Taveuni


Visit a Fijian Village 


Fijians are very welcoming people, and with the proper arrangements, you can visit a local village and meet the chief, who will teach you a little about Fijian culture. 


You’ll get the opportunity to see Fijian crafts like the weaving of mats from Pendanus leaves and potentially even purchase anything that catches your eye. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and remove sunglasses/hats as a sign of respect. This is a great chance to wear your Sulu!



See the Southern Blowhole 


On the southernmost tip of the island is a spot where water can shoot over 50 metres high on the incoming tide. Created by water rushing into the gaps in the volcanic rocks, this is a great spectacle to witness!



Search for the Tagimoucia 


Tagimoucia is the official flower of Fiji that only grows on Taveuni. It is said to have grown from the tears of a Princess who ran away from an arranged marriage into the forest, and it blooms from October to January and can be found via a 6-hour hike to the shores of Lake Tagimoucia. 


This hike starts with an easy-to-follow 2-hour trail to Des Voeux peak (the highest peak on Taveuni at 1,195m) - from there, it's 1-2 hours further to Lake Tagimoucia, finished with a 3-hour descent.


It is advised to take a guide for this 6-hour hike, and the trail is a little rough, and not only that but your guide knows the best spots to view the Tagimoucia.



Visit the Holy Cathedral 


The Holy Cathedral was built in 1907 to thank a French Missionary for his help in winning a canoe battle on the shores of Taveuni. This church has some amazing stained glass imported from France and is a great stop on your way to other activities on the island.


You would be most welcome to the services on Sundays, which are in Fijian, where the choir is outstanding!



Watch a Fijian Rugby match


We were lucky to stumble across a Fijian rugby match purely by chance, but I am sure you can ask the team at your accommodation for timings on local fixtures. We loved our experience! The atmosphere was buzzing, with the entire community out enjoying the match.



A rugby match on Taveuni island Fiji
A rugby match on Taveuni Island

 


When planning my 6-month trip centred around visiting New Zealand, I wanted to make the most of travelling to the opposite end of the planet, as well as avoiding a cold September in NZ.


With this in my mind, I decided to add some Pacific Islands to the mix, choosing Samoa and Fiji. I can safely say it was the best decision.


Fiji is now one of my favourite places on Earth. 



Sunset at Paradise Resort Taveuni Fiji


Every time I think back on my scuba diving trip to Fiji I cannot help but smile. Fijian people are so happy and friendly, and I can see why, as Fiji is one of the most beautiful places in the world.


If you are looking to expand your scuba diving itinerary in Fiji check out my previous post, which is all about the other half of our Fijian Adventure:


If you have any questions about travelling to Fiji, hit the comments!



Britani Bryce

GUEST WRITER

NZ & PACIFIC EXPERT


smiling girl in red hat and grey jumper


Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

2 commentaires


Invité
12 avr.

Britani,


You have written so beautifully about this wonderful place that we too have had the privilege of experiencing

J'aime
En réponse à

😍

J'aime
bottom of page