Snorkeling in Fiji

Navigating the 'Nesias

Zegrahm Contributor|March 18, 2016|Blog Post

Tiny islands, deserted atolls, dreamy lagoons, and year-round tropical temps: an expedition to Polynesia, Melanesia, or Indonesia fulfills every diver's fantasies. Here is a short primer to paradise.

Indonesia

What It Is
This southeast Asian nation, comprising an astounding 17,000 islands, is scattered over more than 740,000 square miles between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Where to Dive 
The 1,500 karst islands in the Raja Ampat archipelago are touted as the most biodiverse on Earth, with more than 1,200 types of fish and 75% of all known coral species. Equally stunning—Bunaken National Marine Park, which offers sanctuary to nearly three-quarters of all the region's known fish species. Other popular spots include Aiduma Island and the Mommon Peninsula.

What to See
With more than 500 Buddha statues and 2,672 bas reliefs, Borobudur on Java is the largest Buddhist temple on earth. In the Papua province, the Asmat are known for their unique culture and exceptional woodcarving skills. The impressive 17th-century Fort Oranje on Ternate stands as a remnant of Dutch influence in the region. In rural Ubud stand the royal water temples of Pura Taman Ayun, regarded as the most beautiful in Bali.

When to Go
Rainfall and humidity are lower during the dry winter season (May-September), although showers are generally short in duration and cause little disruption.

Melanesia

What It Is
A 386,000-square mile region composed of 2,000 islands that stretch from the western end of the Pacific to northeast of Australia. It is divided into four countries: Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Fiji.

Where to Dive
Called the “soft coral capital of the world,” Fiji's 4,000 square miles of pristine reef are home to more than 1,000 species of fish. The reefs surrounding Nakwaba Island and the Solomons are equally enticing, while Vanuatu is the final resting place of the S.S. President Coolidge, one of the best wreck dives on the planet.

What to See
Traditional, handcrafted seafaring canoes are a specialty of the Laughlan Islands; you can watch masters at work in the tiny, palm-thatched villages.The Garden of the Sleeping Giant in Nadi (on the main island of Fiji) showcases more than 2,000 species of orchids. Birders flock to Bouma National Park on Taveuni, while hot springs and bubbling mud pools provide the ultimate relaxation in the D'Entrecasteaux Islands.

When to Go
Reef waters are clearest during the dry season (May to November). Rainfall peaks between December and March.

Micronesia

What It Is
Approximately 2,100 islands (comprising numerous sovereign countries) scattered over nearly 3 million square miles in the western Pacific between Hawaii and the Philippines.

Where to Dive
Ngemelis Wall in the Palau archipelago was one of Jacques Cousteau's favorite wall dives. Majuro Atoll offers great shark diving, and some 70 Japanese ships litter the lagoon of Chuuk (Truk). Touted as the “Forbidden Island” because of its remoteness, Yap is as famous for its manta rays as its rai, or huge limestone discs used as money.

What to See
Beyond the American military bases, the US territory of Guam is home to Latte Stone Park with its 1,000-year-old megalithic pillars. The Lelu ruins of Kosrae, a walled city dating from AD1400, is one of the best archaeological sites in the region. Built around 800 years ago, the Nan Madol ruins on Pohnpei Island are known as the “Venice of the Pacific.”

When to Go
Rainfall and humidity are lower during the dry winter season (December–March), although waters are often calmer during summer months.

Polynesia

What It Is
More than 1,000 islands blanketing an 800,000-square-mile geographical triangle in the central and southern Pacific, which reaches from New Zealand to Hawaii and Easter Island. Island groups include French Polynesia, Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, and others.

Where to Dive
Humpback whales breed off the coast of Vava'u in Tonga (July-October), while Hot Spring Cavern off Ha'apai is a fantastical site to explore. Great diving is also had off Aitutaki and Atiu in the Cook Islands; just 60 people reside on Palmerston, although its vibrant coral heads are home to hundreds of marine species.

What to See
Marae Taianapa and Fare Opu on Bora Bora are just two of the many ancient stone temples found in French Polynesia. Mata Utu, the regional capital of Wallis, features an interesting stone cathedral and 14th-century fort. Wallis spelunkers are in heaven along the coast of Niue, which is dotted by hundreds of dazzling limestone caves.

When to Go
May to October sees the mildest weather, while November to April brings more rain and less visibility for divers.

For more information on what we do when we visit the 'nesias, visit our trip pages: 


Best of Micronesia: Rabaul to Palau | February 23, 2018
Best of Micronesia: Rabaul to Palau
| March 3, 2019
Tahiti to Easter Island: Marquesas, Tuamotus & Pitcairns
 | October 10, 2019

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