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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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January 2024    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 50, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Paradise Taveuni Resort, Fiji

lovely reefs, lovely people

from the January, 2024 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

The view from Paradise Taveuni"C'mere, I got a moray," signed Sio, my divemaster, 20 feet away from me at Jerry's Jellies.

"Nah, I'm good here," I flashed back. I love a good moray, but I was communing with a magnificent anemone full of tomato clownfish. I can see morays nearly everywhere, but I flew across the Pacific for anemone fish.

"Come here, now," signaled my travel companion, kneeling beside Sio. OK, I motated on over to a trio of ribbon eels, one black and yellow, the other two blue and yellow, doing their wide-open mouth thing. My dive buddy always has my best interests at heart.

We were diving at Jerry's Jellies, one of dozens of dive sites along the Rainbow Reef in Fiji's Somosomo Strait. It's a 35-minute boat ride from Paradise Taveuni Resort on Taveuni Island, southeast of Vanua Levu. This was my fourth trip to Fiji; the others were on liveaboards.

After a 10-hour flight from San Francisco to Nadi, I schlepped my gear from the modern international airport to the domestic third-world terminal, which included the sobering task of stepping onto the luggage scales with my carry-ons. Then it was a 75-minute flight to Taveuni Island, where our group of 27 Americans (some were on later flights) were greeted by several resort vans for the one-hour drive to Paradise Taveuni, the last half a bone-crunching trip over the unpaved ragged road. While other resorts are nearer the airport, Paradise Taveuni is a 20-30-minute boat ride closer to Rainbow Reef. Pick your poison.

The staffers gave us a big Fijian welcome, serenading us with guitars and beautiful singing. Here, the Fijian people shine. While they were colonized 150 years ago by the British who planted sugarcane, the Fijians didn't want to work the fields (why, when you could catch a fish and get a coconut off a tree?), so the oppressors brought in underpaid and illiterate East Indian laborers. I've been to plenty of dive destinations where the bitterness among the locales simmers just below the surface -- I get it. But the Fijian people have gone beyond that. Their joie de vivre made us immediately at home. By day two, most of the staff knew each person's name.

The resort buildings are almost new because owners Allen and Terri Gortan had to rebuild after Cyclone Winston leveled the place in 2016. The covered opensided restaurant flows into a seating and small bar area, plus a tiny gift shop, clothing boutique, and dive shop, with an air-conditioned camera room. There's even a bakery that provides cinnamon rolls for between dives. The bures, which can accommodate 32 guests, are generous, comfortable, and air-conditioned, with refrigerators and lovely open-air showers. Most are spread along the beach. There are hammocks and gazebos on the grounds and a swimming pool front and center -- a nondiver with a reading addiction could be very happy, as was I. After four decades of diving worldwide, I'm at an age and stage where I'm happy with two or three good tanks daily, with leisure time to enjoy a good book and take in the locale....

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