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Garry and Sue recently stayed at Beqa Lagoon Resort in Fiji and posted this report on Tripadvisor:

5 of 5 starsReviewed 5 September 2013

I recently returned from an 8 night diving trip to Beqa Lagoon Resort and had a great time. I found a package through Diversion Dive Travel which was extremely good value and very well organised from start to finish. I agree with all the positive comments on this resort with Trip Advisor but disregard the negative comments as I had no negative experiences during my stay. Firstly, this is a dive resort. I met a couple of non-divers and while one mature aged woman had a great time a younger woman was bored stiff. She did not dive and I think wanted to party. While there is a bar and you can party if you wish, as mostly dedicated divers use this resort, at the end of a days diving and after a good meal and a few drinks most people retire to their room reasonably early to rest up for the next days diving.

© copyright by Beqa Lagoon Resort

This is probably a 3 star property which is reflected in the rates which are very reasonable if you shop around for a diving/accommodation/meals/transfers package. So, if you want 5 star and to party all night with good diving, I suggest you spend a few days in a mainland resort first, then head over the Beqa Island for the diving. Having lived in Melanesian countries previously, I learned not to expect everything to run to plan. Things go wrong in developing countries. But, I was pleasantly surprised. The transfers went on time and pretty much to schedule. I read varying accounts of how long it takes to get there many of which were wrong. It is a 2.5 hour ride in a mini bus on a long and winding road from Nandi airport to Pacific Harbour. If you want to take some beer or drinks ask the bus driver to call into the shop at Pacific Harbour before you get on the boat and a case of Fiji Gold costs about 55FJD. It is then 45 mins to 1 hour boat transfer depending on the seas. But, when you get there it is well worth it. Most of the staff and some villagers turn out to welcome you with a traditional song which is quite humbling. There were only 2 of us arriving but we still got the full treatment. You then get a complimentary foot massage if that’s your thing.

© copyright by Beqa Lagoon ResortWe heard the Beach Front Bures were the go, so considered we might upgrade as we were booked into the pond side Bures. But, we were so satisfied with our room we did not bother. The room was very large with a lounge room, lounge and coffee table, comfortable king bed, bedside tables and lamps for reading, a new bar fridge that kept drinks icy cold, a fairly new air-conditioner which worked well but which we never needed and a large bathroom and shower which was recently renovated. We had hot water the whole time there and forget the bottled water, we drank tap rain water the whole time with no ill effects. There is tea and coffee making facilities in the room and soap and © copyright by Beqa Lagoon Resortshampoo/conditioner provided. The Bure also has a deck with table, chairs and a deck chair. No need to bring a towel for swimming, snorkelling or diving as the resort provides towels. The meals are good and ample like everyone agrees. So, who cares if the roofs of some of the Bures need a few more palm leaves. The gardens are manicured and well maintained, the staff are friendly and a more peaceful and relaxing place would be difficult to find. The resort is managed by Mark a South African and his wife Poldi an Austrian lady. Both are very friendly, experienced, interesting and well travelled hosts. I have stayed at resorts where the ex-pat managers actually avoid the guests. This is not one of them.Mark and Poldi dine and mingle with the guest at all times, were most helpful in all respects and are excellent ambassadors for the resort, island and it’s people. I can not praise these people highly enough. All the staff were friendly and helpful and it is true they do know your name by day 2. There is a PADI dive shop right next to the resort dining room and office.

© copyright by Beqa Lagoon ResortThe dive shop is very well run by Joeli who is also a dive instructor, dive master and one of the guys who pioneered the Beqa Lagoon Shark Dives some years back. There are 3 dive boats owned by the resort but when we were there one was running charters from the Coral Coast so 2 dive boats were in use at the resort. This was more than ample as there were only about 6 to 8 divers as we were there on a quiet week. So, as you can imagine the service was excellent. The dive boat had a skipper, a couple of deck hands and 2 dive masters so all levels of diving experience were easily catered for. All the dive boat staff are local islanders, as are all the other employees. So, they © copyright by Beqa Lagoon Resorttake pride in their resort on their island and it shows. A typical day is up at 6.45am for 7.15am breakfast, then to the dive shop to get your wetsuit and then to the beach for 7.45am departure to the dive boat in a big tinny. All the other dive gear, BCD’s, tanks and weights is taken on board by the dive crew and set up for you. Then off to a dive site for 1st dive about 9am. Dives are not deep and the deepest I went was to about 28.5 metres on a wreck. Dive time is restricted only by the amount of air you have in your tank and all dives are guided by 2 dive masters so it is very safe. Some experienced divers stayed down for 45 to 50 mins while the less experienced had about 30 to 35 minute dives. Surface interval is 1 hour during which time the boat moves to a different site. As a mature aged diver I found the diving easy as when exiting the water you can take off your weights and BCD/tank and a boat crew member will haul it on board for you. Second dive is about 11am and then they head back to the resort for a 12.30pm arrival and 1pm lunch. Diving is basically reefs, wrecks and sharks. We dived on a couple of old fishing trawlers which had good soft and hard coral growth and an abundance of fish life. The rest of the day is free to engage in other island activities. There is unlimited shore diving which is only restricted by the tides. The lagoon is tidal so obviously the best time for shore dives is around high tide. After lunch most divers seemed to prefer to find a hammock, rest or have an afternoon nap as the morning diving, sun, sea breezes and unspoiled beauty of the place seemed to instil a sense of peace, tranquillity and quiet relaxation into ones soul.

I did not intend to do the shark dive as I have done one previously and my partner is a relatively new diver with an O/W ticket who like most of us had initially expressed a mortal fear of sharks. Also both shark dives exceed 18 meters. But she met some other lady divers who talked her into it. So, I decided to go as her buddy.

© copyright by Beqa Lagoon Resort

I am so glad I did. The 2 shark dives are spectacular. The first is in 24 meters. All divers descend down the anchor line onto a wreck and are guided to a roped off area where they position themselves holding on to a rope barrier. Then the chum comes down in large wheelie bins and the action starts. Literally millions of fish of all shapes sized and species appear. The first sharks were several large nurse sharks followed by 3 or 4 large silvertips. Bottom time is about 15 minutes and then divers move up to the reef and wreck to complete the dive and safety stops. I had not seen any bull sharks on the first dive and asked the dive master why and he said the first dive attracts them and they will be there on the second dive. He was right. The second dive follows the same procedure but is at 19 metres with a bottom time of 20 mins. When we got bottom and took the rope there were bull sharks everywhere. There must have been 20 to 30 bull sharks swimming very close to divers. Divers with cameras were taken inside the roped off area to vantage points where they could get better photos. But, with so many sharks in the water divers were completely safe. 3 dive operators were on this shark dive in 3 dive boats so there must have been 30 divers in the water. But, there were at least 10 ‘shark wranglers’ who kept watch behind and all around the divers and were right on the ball if any big sharks got too close. It was a truly good dive and my novice partner loved it and is now a seasoned shark diver, who like the rest of us now understands the beauty of these animals and why they so desperately need protection. The shark dive is conducted 3 times a week but we only did it once. But, non-shark divers can go to the same site and dive on the reef and wreck which is only a short distance from where the shark dive is being conducted. We did 2 dives thus and saw plenty of white tip, black tip, grey reef sharks and I thought I saw a mako shark. All of which were attracted to the area by the shark feeding nearby.

© copyright by Beqa Lagoon ResortThis was a great trip, great value for money and a great diving resort. We met some very interesting people from all over the world which gave the place a great international flavour. There were Aussies, Americans, Brits, Russians, French, Korean and Columbian and everyone got on very well. While there were some nice young couples, most of the divers were of the more mature aged variety, keen divers and the undisciplined backpacker element was not present. It is very sad to leave this wonderful place and when we did, again Mark, Poldi and the island people turned out to sing us off with a sad traditional song. Like some others, I felt quite emotional when leaving and looked around to see other people also had a tear in their eye. I can not speak highly enough about this place. My advice is if you are considering a dive trip to an exotic location, far from the maddening crowd, which is not going to cost the earth, stop thinking and just go to Beqa Lagoon Resort. You won’t regret it.
Like they say, Life’s a Beach and then you Dive.
Garry and Sue

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