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Scuba Diving in Fiji: Coral Reefs

Stephanie loves to travel. She has written numerous articles with tips, photographs, and information on places to visit.

Dive to see the Beautiful Fiji Coral Reefs

During my recent trip to Fiji, I Iearned a lot about the beautiful coral reefs around the islands. No wonder Fiji is one of the top deep sea diving locations in the world. The temperature of the waters and their unpolluted, clear nature make a perfect place for coral to grow and thrive.

Both fringing coral reefs and barrier reefs are found in the island nation of Fiji, comprised of 333 islands in the South Pacific. In fact, the world's second largest coral reef is located just off the coral coast of the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu.

Off Kadavu, to the south of Viti Levu, is the Great Astrolabe Reef. It's a giant barrier reef that is teeming with life and beauty just beneath the ocean surface. The waters are "Scope" blue and green. Almost unbelievably colored. During my boat ride from the airport to Matava Fiji's Premier Eco Resort, I saw both spinner dolphins and flying fish leaping out the waters between the barrier reef and the island itself.

Seriously - how many people get to see that in their lifetime?

Come along and explore Fiji coral reefs - if you ask me, they are one of the natural wonders of the world.

Unless otherwise specified, all photos in this hub are the property of Stephanie Hicks. Please contact me for permission to use.

The beautiful Fiji Islands

The beautiful Fiji Islands

At the end of a guided coral reef walk in Fiji

At the end of a guided coral reef walk in Fiji

Coral reef walking in Fiji

Coral reef walking in Fiji

Enjoying Fiji Coral Reefs

When you travel to the South Pacific, there are many ways to enjoy the warm, tropical waters. Swimming, sailing, fishing and other outdoor recreational pursuits are all available.

But for fully enjoying Fiji coral reefs, you will want to get up close and personal, either through deep sea diving or snorkeling. You can also try a guided coral reef walk at some locations in Fiji.

Although I am not not a diver (yet), I have heard that once you start, its addicting. After all, can you imagine the lovely silence of being underwater and marveling at the gorgeous colors of the coral, tropical fish, and watching manta rays, sharks and dolphins swimming all around?

Delicate coral reefs are not only beautiful, but also important when it comes to marine habitat. As coral reefs worldwide are threatened by global climate change, pesticides, storms and more, we need to worry about how to protect the reefs to preserve wildlife habitat.

Healthy coral from a coral farm in Fiji

Healthy coral from a coral farm in Fiji

Planting coral in Fiji

Planting coral in Fiji

Fringing Coral Reefs in Fiji

There are several main types of coral reefs recognized by biologists. Fringing reefs often grow directly from the shoreline, or there is only a shallow backreef zone between the land mass and the reef. They are the most common type of reefs, and are usually found in the tropics.

Charles Darwin believed that fringing reefs are the first type of reefs that are formed, and may eventually become barrier reefs as they grow over time. Fringing reefs are usually found off the shorelines of newer or developing islands. The youngest fringing reefs that are still in development are often called apron reefs.

The reef flat - closest to the land - sustains the most damage from runoff, sedimentation and storms. However, coral grows well on the reef slope, which descends away from the land into slightly deeper waters. Fed by wave action, the life in this area of the reef is usually abundant and thriving. At the crest of the reef slope is generally the healthiest, fastest growing, part of the coral reef. An optimal balance of sunlight and nutrients are found here.

Did you know that many of the Great Barrier Reef's components are actually fringing reefs? Of the close to 3400 individual reefs, 760 are actually fringing reefs, according to Wikipedia.

Off the coral coast of Fiji is the second largest reef in the world, which happens to be a fringing reef. The reef is accessible to divers, snorklers and coral reef walkers. Just make sure to go with a guide to minimize any impact on the delicate reefs.

A fringing coral reef in the Fiji Islands

A fringing coral reef in the Fiji Islands

Harvested coral for planting

Harvested coral for planting

Clown fish love Fiji coral reefs

Clown fish love Fiji coral reefs

Swimming Among Fiji Coral Reefs

Barrier Reefs in Fiji

In the life of a coral reef, barrier reefs are older and more mature than fringing reefs. The most significant difference between the two is that barrier reefs are further from land than fringing reefs.

Some marine biologists describe barrier reefs as the second stage in coral reef development. They occur when the island from which they originally formed has begun sinking. According to Charles Darwin, there are three stages in reef formation: first, a fringing reef forms around an extinct volcanic island, as the ocean floor subsides, the fringing reef becomes a barrier reef over time. Ultimately, the reef may become an atoll reef, after the land sinks under the water, leaving the reef to enclose a remaining lagoon.

You know a barrier reef when you see it - they are parallel to shore, but separated from it by a lagoon or larger body of water.

Delicate coral in Fiji

Delicate coral in Fiji

Coral planted in Fiji to form new reefs

Coral planted in Fiji to form new reefs

Protecting coral reefs is important

Protecting coral reefs is important

The Hideaway Fiji Resort is Working to Protect and Preserve Coral Reefs

During my stay at the Hideaway Fiji Resort along the coral coast of the main island, I learned about steps the resort is taking to protect and preserve coral reefs. Other than hosting tourists and other travelers at the property, preservation of coral reefs is of major importance for the Hideaway.

Consider these facts:

· Conservation: The Hideaway Fiji Resort engages in the world ecotourism award-winning coral reef conservation program called “Integrated Coastal Management." The tidal area in front of the resort has been declard “Tabu” (protected). Guests should ask about the best time for snorkeling at high tide so as not to disturb living creatures including coral and starfish.

· Reef Walking Path: The resort offers daily guided tours at low tide. Sponsor and plant your own piece of coral for $10.00 (that’s what I did!)

· Coral Sponsorship funds are directed to eco-development projects at the neighboring Tagaqe Village.

· Operations at the resort seek to conserve water and power, and cut down on pollution into waterways and seas. Guests are encouraged to use bed linens and towels again – put note on bed to delay changing, and hang towels up.

· The resort gives back to the local community. To assist the nearby Sigatoka area with improved health and safety facilities, a donation of $10 is automatically added to guests' accounts. You can donate more, if you wish, or ask that the charges be declined.

Aerial view of coral reef off Fiji islands

Aerial view of coral reef off Fiji islands

Tiny blue fish in a Fiji coral reef

Tiny blue fish in a Fiji coral reef

Fringing coral reef off the coral coast of Fiji

Fringing coral reef off the coral coast of Fiji

Coral farm along the Coral Coast in Fiji

Coral farm along the Coral Coast in Fiji

Why We Need to Protect Coral Reefs

While coral reefs comprise a mere fraction of a percent of the world's ocean surface, these living organisms host 25% of all marine species in the world . Some have referred to coral reefs as the "rainforests of the sea," because of their diverse ecosystems and important role in providing habitat for so many other sea dwelling creatures.

Corals are not plants, but living animals that secrete calcium carbonate - an exoskeleton that supports and protects the coral polyp bodies. There are also soft corals, which are more rare. Throughout Fiji, you can dive and find soft corals in the abundant reefs.

Coral reefs are at risk with rising global temperatures. The organisms are quite sensitive to water temperature. They also sustain significant damage from storms and other weather events that are becoming more frequent. When temperatures get too high and/or the water too cloudy, sunlight cannot reach the corals and they become bleached and die.

Without corals, we lose important habitat for marine wildlife. That, in turn, impacts tourism, fisheries and shoreline protections. Each year, the economic value of coral reefs is a staggering $30 billion!  Even if you are not an environmentalist, you have to consider the important economic benefit that coral reefs have for a number of industries.

Selecting coral for planting in Fiji

Selecting coral for planting in Fiji

Fiji Coral

Fiji Coral

Aerial view of coral reefs in Fiji

Aerial view of coral reefs in Fiji

Threats to Coral Reefs' Health

  • Sedimentation run-off
  • Rising water temperatures
  • Pollutants
  • Sunscreens
  • Storms - natural disasters that may be increasing as a result of global climate change
  • Climate change
  • Ocean acidification
  • Cloudy waters
Sea anemone in Fiji

Sea anemone in Fiji

Fiji coral

Fiji coral

Coral Coast in Fiji

Coral Coast in Fiji

Waves breaking at the edge of the fringing coral reef in Fiji

Waves breaking at the edge of the fringing coral reef in Fiji

Scuba Diving in Fiji to see the Coral Reefs

If you love deep sea diving, you'll enjoy visiting Fiji. There are so many places to dive or snorkel and enjoy the abundant, beautiful sea life among the corals. If you are planning a trip to Fiji, be sure to check with Tourism Fiji for the best places to dive, including the best times of year to visit.

There is not really a "winter" in Fiji - just a rainy season. November through April is a bit wetter. But, if you are underwater, does that even matter?! Temperatures are generally from 75-85 F (28-32 C) during the day. The water temps are comfortable, as well.

Would I go back to Fiji? In a heartbeat! I loved the people, the food and the natural beauty.

I hope you get the chance to enjoy Fiji coral reefs one day!

Coral reefs support other wildlife

Coral reefs support other wildlife

Amazingly blue waters over the Great Astrolabe Reef in Fiji

Amazingly blue waters over the Great Astrolabe Reef in Fiji

Beautiful view of fringing coral reef in Fiji

Beautiful view of fringing coral reef in Fiji

Beautiful colorful clams offshore in Fiji

Beautiful colorful clams offshore in Fiji

Coral farm near Fiji Hideaway Resort

Coral farm near Fiji Hideaway Resort

Fringing coral reef in Fiji

Fringing coral reef in Fiji

Waves breaking off the Great Astrolobe Reef in Fiji

Waves breaking off the Great Astrolobe Reef in Fiji

© 2010 Stephanie Marshall

Comments

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 14, 2015:

Lovely photos and an awesome hub. I would love to learn how to scuba dive someday, if I only knew how to dive and be a better swimmer. It sounds like fun and exciting. Voted up!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on March 13, 2014:

I want to learn to scuba dive and go back!! Fiji was amazing. Do put it on your list of places to visit. Cheers, Steph

Ed Palumbo from Tualatin, OR on March 13, 2014:

Excellent photo support and a great information! Thank you for writing this. I've never been to Fiji, but I happy to put it on my list of places I want to visit as a diver.

Sebastian on April 02, 2013:

Nice pictures. Makes me really want to go there and have a look on my own.

FILOMENA GEMA on July 21, 2012:

AWSOME......i've always known my country is a paradise...

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 11, 2012:

Thank you Steve! I very much appreciate your kind comment. I had such a fun time visiting and photographing Fiji. Learned quite a bit about the coral reefs too. Hope you get to see them one day, too. Best, Steph

Steve Wright from Norwich, England on May 11, 2012:

Stephanie this is without a doubt one of the best hubs that I have come across in my short time on hubpages. You write so impressively and the pictures are quite amazing too. Can't vote this one up enough! Thank you so much for taking the time to create and share this. I truly hope one day I am lucky enough to experience Fiji and the coral reefs.

stessily on February 23, 2012:

Steph, Really amazing photos which capture the unique beauty of corals and of the ocean! Your vacation must have been enlightening and enlivening.

Thanks for sharing!

josh100 on December 06, 2011:

wow...........amazing

Kamran100 on December 12, 2010:

wow...so beautiful

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 12, 2010:

Hi Bill and SJerZGirl,

The water is so amazingly pure and beautiful in Fiji - hope you get to see it some time.

SJerZGirl on December 12, 2010:

I would love to see Fiji! It had to be spectacular; the water so clear and blue, the land generally so pristine.

billrobinson from CA, USA on December 12, 2010:

Nice post you got here! Thanks for sharing.

JASON NICHOLS on December 11, 2010:

Same to you too steph.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 11, 2010:

Looking forward to seeing your son's photographs, Jason! How cool is that? I'd love to have an underwater camera.

Have a wonderful day! Steph

JASON NICHOLS on December 11, 2010:

Hi again Steph!

Thank you for calling me kind. Yes we all need to protect coral reefs not in fiji but worldwide! These coral reefs are so beautiful and lovely.

When me and my family went to bahamas, My son took some pictures of coral reefs with his underwater national geographic camera which he won in his school competition. I still have these pictures and will post them soon.

Till then, CHEERS TO YOU TOO STEPH!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 11, 2010:

Hi Jason,

You are so kind! I'm just happy to share my experiences and photos of the coral reefs in Fiji to raise awareness of the need to protect and preserve them worldwide. Cheers to you! Steph

JASON NICHOLS on December 11, 2010:

Indeed, Its a very intresting hub and fun to read this too! Lot's of information and lovely pictures of coral reefs. It will be a beautiful if this hub of yours will be published in a book. It deserves a good place there.

Loved it and voted it up steph.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 11, 2010:

Hi Charles,

You are absolutely right about the need to protect coral reefs and their critical importance to marine habitats.

I'm sure the coral reefs in Indonesia are beautiful, as well. We need to preserve them not only for future generations, but more importantly to keep our oceans in balance. Best to you, Steph

charlesroring on December 11, 2010:

I really enjoy your hub very much. I myself like snorkeling around a number of tropical islets in West Papua province of the New Guinea island in the Republic of Indonesia. Coral reef is home to thousands of species of fish and other marine animals. Coral reef even has higher biodiversity than tropical rainforest. So, the coral reef can also be said as the tropical rainforest of the sea. Together they absorb the CO2 gases that we emit every day through photosynthesis. Coral reef and tropical rainforest have to be protected and preserved.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 04, 2010:

Hi chirls,

Fiji is such an amazing place and the coral reefs are definitely worth seeing one day. Thanks for the visit - Steph

chirls from Indiana (for now) on December 04, 2010:

Great hub Steph! As others have pointed out, you included some great photos and really interesting information about reefs. You have definitely made me want to see Fiji for myself!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Thanks dallas and SweetiePie - it was fairly rustic in some of the places I stayed in Fiji, minimal solar powered electricity and no cell phones. I really enjoyed my trip there because I learned so much about the environment and culture! Thanks for stopping by - Steph

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on December 03, 2010:

Wow, Steph! Your pictures and new found knowledge of Fiji have enabled you to produce some valuable and well researched content on coral reefs!

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on December 03, 2010:

Great place to visit. I lived in a village with the chief by Rewa River for a month... No electricity, or indoor toilets...

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Thanks BJ and the Fix - I have about 10 more hubs in my brain (and accompanying photos) from the trip to Fiji! Lots to do and see there. Really enjoyed the trip, and paradise is just the beginning. Hope you get to go some day!

the fix on December 03, 2010:

whoa ! Awesome hub love the pics and the videos too! I had no idea Fiji could be so interesting, I thought it was all about laying out on a beach! The coral info was very interesting to me and it makes me happy to know you actually got to plant a bit of reef! Cool!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 03, 2010:

Beautiful photos, steph, and you have greatly enhanced my coral reef-challenged education. Fiji, from your description, appears to be a slice of Paradise. Thanks.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Hi Mentalist acer - I'd love to see the coral reefs off South America too! Cheers, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Oh Stephanie, you have to see coral reefs like these one day! Make your travel plans now. :) Although I have never been to the Great Barrier Reef, I understand that Fiji's coral reefs are very impressive in their own right. I was very fortunate to have the experience to see the reefs and help replant them too!

Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on December 03, 2010:

I've an aunt and uncle who dive,in off of South America,thanks for the tour of Fiji,stephhicks.;)

Stephanie Henkel from USA on December 03, 2010:

This is a wonderful hub, Steph! I loved the photographs, and I'm so jealous as visiting these beautiful coral reefs is on my "bucket list". I too was impressed that the reefs are being replanted. Thanks for a very informative and beautiful article.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Hi chspublish - great to meet you! I agree that the films are especially nice of the coral reefs. I wish I could take credit for them, too! Coral reefs as the "rainforests of the sea," is a particularly fitting moniker. They are so beautiful, so delicate and so important!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Samsons - you and your wife should visit Fiji then! Even in the rainy season (November-April) it is warm and comfortable. The first 3 days of my stay, it rained quite a bit, but we were still able to get out, take walks, swim in a waterfall and visit a Fijian village. Oh, and we were wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Hi Travelespresso - so glad you enjoyed the article on Fiji coral reefs! I was very impressed about the work being done to protect and preserve the reefs. The coral planting was so cool (and now I have a mini reef with my name on it there!)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Thank you tipoague - It was a bit risky for me to take my camera out during the coral walk (its not waterproof), but I am so glad I got all the wonderful photographs of the fringing coral reef in Fiji!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 03, 2010:

Hi Petra - The coral walk in Fiji that I did was one of the highlights of my trip. I really do need to learn how to deep sea dive. I understand that it truly is a religious experience!

chspublish from Ireland on December 03, 2010:

What I love about this hub is not only the fully comprehensive information about the coral but the lovely videos and images. Unlike a documentary, the filming seems to be carried out with a reverence even with the presence of humans and this seems to come out even more so in the videos. Great stuff for the earth. I love the idea of refering to coral reefs as the rainforest of the sea. Lovely. Thanks for the hub

Sam from Tennessee on December 03, 2010:

My wife and I were just talking about Guam and the tropics this morning and I ask if she could stand to live in a place were the temperature stayed around 80-85 degrees year round. She just said "try me" (it's in the low 30's outside here)...

travelespresso from Somewhere in this exciting world. on December 03, 2010:

WOW Stephs this is a very comprehensive hub. I love the idea that the Fijians are planting coral! That's great for the future of the reefs.

Tammy from USA on December 03, 2010:

This sounds like a great place to visit. I love the pictures you posted.

Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on December 02, 2010:

There is so much variety and beauty in nature, at times I am inclined to think that was God indeed who created it. your pictures are great and the reefs, for some reason, remind me of fire works - could be the form or maybe the colors - but in the end it does not matter, they are just gorgeous.