So far, Mana island, Fiji was my favorite place to dive. We spent only five days on the island ( four days of diving ), but even such a short time left upon my soul long-lasting and unforgettable impression. It’s impossible to describe such an experience by a few words, but if asked – I’d say it was truly amazing! I’m, of course, talking about the underwater world of Fiji. I’d go back to that place again and again.

But, first of all, let me tell you about Mana. You could’ve walked around the whole island in a half day or less, but the south-west point of Mana is too rocky and navigating through present quite a challenge. Otherwise, you’d traverse through beautiful beaches with a white, velvety send, every second enjoying beautiful scenery of the tropical islands. Just like in the movies.

Mana Island

By the way, speaking of the movies, Mana island lays not too far from Monuriki island, where movie “Cast Away” was shot. If only Tom Hanks knew how close he was to salvation. Hotel “Mana Island Resort & Spa” was a bit more expensive than we expected, but room were spacious, clean and with all bells and whistles that modern accommodations, located on a remote island, of course, should have. Scrumptious food and all employees were attentive and aim to please.

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Mana Island Resort & Spa. North site.

Oh, one more thing. Would you like to play lonely Robison Crusoe for real? I mean for a few hours only? Or tag Frida … or Friday along with you? Then ask resort manager to drop you off to the “Honeymoon Island”. There is nothing there, except thick vegetation, rocks with cool grottos and surrounding ocean. Don’t forget water, some snacks, towels and … begin dreaming that nobody is coming back …

Beach on the north site.

Ok, all previous info is for land dwellers, but what about diving? As I’ve mentioned before, only a few days were available for diving, and yet I was able to squeeze twelve submersions into those auspicious four days. What a diversity of marine life opens to your eyes as soon as wings of your BC flattens and you begin to descent. Live, that constantly strolling, swishing, hiding and tagging each other on, by and through the variety of incredible scenery.

Sometimes steep, but usually gently sloping walls, covered by endless varieties of soft corals. “Gills” or “lips” of the Christmas Tree Worms, that thickly cover the stocky formation of underwater beaches, create such a palette that any artist would envy the richness of those colors.

Dive masters from Aqua-Trek Mana were so good in findings new creatures that my camera was in constant use. Just before departing to Mana I’ve purchased new Panasonic Lumix LX3, 10Bar housing for it and one Sea&sea flash. I was a little scared since I did not have a chance to try it at home, but I was coming back from Mana very happy with its performance. ( As of today I change Panasonic LX3 for Canon 5D Mark 2, corresponding Ikelite housing and 2 Ikelite flashes. Great setup with predictable outcome, but, in comparison with Panasonic, a bit heavier and bulkier than my previous setup )

Going back, or rather, going down under the surface you, in a depth of around 85 feet, would find fields of enormous cabbage corals, where within labyrinth of its interlacing leaves, small inhabitance can easily find refuge from dangerous neighbors.  Black tip sharks, lazily patrol their extensive territories, passing 3-4 feet from your flapping fins. Leopard sharks lay motionlessly on a sandy bottoms. At night dives, you can meet turtles and blue spotted rays.

Those who loves observing nudibranchs and other small creatures … I humbly think of myself as one … will not be disappointed. Myriads of intricate shapes and unimaginable hues create the unforgettable sceneries of underwater flora and fauna of Mana island.

Of course, it is crucially important, to find and get with you the best available local divemaster/guide. In that regard, I considered myself very lucky, as I’ve met and dove solely with Richard Halafy, he was just what any diver-photographer needs. Soft spoken, very friendly man, could stack 2 tanks on each shoulder and walk with 4 of ’em unhurriedly, smiling and talking all the way to the boat.

And he would not only find and point you what you can so easily miss, but Richard also was very sufficient to assist me with a proper lighting of a subject. Once explained, he knew exactly what needs to be done, especially at night dives. When he find the subject, he would call you and then properly illuminate it, being careful not to use the direct beam of his flash. Hovering slightly behind, he’d see if my camera get focused, so then Richard would move his light slightly aside, keeping it close so subject, so it still can be visible, and yet far enough to illuminate “burn spot” caused by direct lightning. I am missing not only him, but a whole team of a friendly and constantly smiling staff of the resort.

What a bunch of cheerful guys work at Mana Aqua Trek Dive Shop. Well, as the proverb goes – better one time to see than hundred times to hear. So, guys, get there and see it yourself, you will not be disappointed. I cross my heart … and hope to dive 😉