When it comes to choosing between diving Fiji or Tahiti where should you start? Here are two seemingly identical tropical islands in the South Pacific that offer picture-postcard beaches, warm waters and excellent diving and snorkeling experiences.
Let’s start with Tahiti. The largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti is divided into Tahiti Nui (the larger, western section) and Tahiti Iti (the eastern peninsula). It has a desert island reputation with its lagoons, waterfalls and volcanic black-sand beaches.
Now take a look at Fiji. This archipelago is blessed with 333 islands and 540 islets in the South Pacific. Fiji is your quintessential castaway dream – think beaches backed by palm trees, expansive pink sunsets and that drop-dead gorgeous blue sea – which means sensational diving and snorkeling.
They both sound idyllic don’t they? So when it comes to diving Fiji and Tahiti, what sets them apart? Read on to find out more about diving Fiji vs Tahiti.
Diving Fiji or Tahiti?
Fiji is a world-class diving location. It’s so good that it’s picked up two titles of the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ and the ‘best shark diving location in the world’.
Given its location in the South Pacific, the strong currents of the outer reefs bring nutrient-rich waters from thousands of miles, helping to attract some of the most diverse marine life in the ocean.
Boasting more than 390 coral species and around 1,200 fish species, the waters surrounding Fiji are a diver’s and snorkeler’s dream – in fact anyone who loves exploring underwater!
Fiji has wall dives, swim-throughs, canyons and caverns and incredible encounters with bull sharks, wahoo and the occasional manta or whale shark.
With warm, clear waters and an abundance of marine life, Fiji is a magnet for divers and sorkelers. Underwater visibility regularly exceeds 100ft and the corals are so healthy that when the corals bloom, they have a flower-like beauty.
Tahiti and its 117 sister islands offer some of the most exhilarating diving in the South Pacific. From wall dives and wreck dives, novice trips to expert excursions, Tahiti and its islands offer a broad range of diving experiences.
There are protected coral reefs and crystal clear lagoons, all of which provide shelter for Tahiti’s colorful underwater ecosystem, which has earned the reputation as being one of the world’s most diverse.
Most of the islands of Tahiti are ocean and lagoon, so the best way to get to know the islands are by taking to the water. Known as ‘Moana’ to Tahitian locals, the ocean lies at the heart of the history, culture and life of the Tahitian people.
Diving Fiji and Tahiti – Planning your dive
Fiji’s climate makes it a year-round dive destination and the warm, shallow waters of many of Fiji’s reef-fringed lagoons are perfect training environments.
You’ll find that most resorts in Fiji have their own dive operators who can offer everything from introductory resort dives for beginners to open-water certification for those ready to take their skills to the next level.
Diving in Tahiti and around French Polynesia you’ll see big marine animals, so if you’re into sharks, manta rays and whales, then this is one of the best places in the world.
French Polynesia is one of the few places in the world with dive sites where you are almost guaranteed to see hundreds of sharks, without having to bait or feed them, thanks to the underwater topography of its passes. These natural gates through the coral barrier reefs let water pass between the lagoon which is rich in nutrients.
In Tahiti a resort and a liveaboard are good options to consider. The liveaboard option will give you a wider range of dive sites and will visit more than one island chain. This can be worth it as each destination within Tahiti’s islands has unique features for diving.
Going for the dive resort option will give you a closer look at island life and a genuine feel for the local culture. There are dive operators everywhere in French Polynesia including on Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.
Diving Fiji vs Tahiti – where to go?
The Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands
Sitting north-west of Viti Levu, there are around 50 islands that make up the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands which are great for beginners. They’re close to Nadi, the capital of Fiji and where most international flights arrive, plus they’re easy to get to. Here the dive sites are generally safe for beginners and many resorts have coral gardens and easy places to explore if you’re keen to move from snorkeling to diving.
If you’re new to diving, the coral-studded underwater cliff in the Yasawa Island chain, called Lekima’s Ledge, is a good place to start. The slowly descending ridges allow you to explore deeper as your confidence grows and the site attracts plenty of fish as well as ample coral gardens.
Experienced divers should check out the Great White Wall off Tavenui – possibly the best soft-coral dive in Fiji – the Nasonisoni Passage off Vanua Levu, and E6 in the Lomaiviti Islands, which features a phenomenal seamount that brushes the ocean’s surface.
Vanua Levu and Tavenui
Fiji’s second and third-biggest islands are just a short flight or boat ride north of Viti Levu and are a diver’s paradise.
Here Tavenui’s Great White Wall is a fabulous dive that is often described as the best dive in the Fiji, thanks to the amazing colors, the stunning array of hard corals and the kaleidoscope of reef fish.
In Vanua Levu head to Namena Marine Reserve, a protected 27 square mile park, a two-hour boat ride from Savusavu. Some of the best sites here include Dreadlocks, with its multicolored hard and soft-coral garden and Dreamhouse, home to schools of barracuda, jacks and tuna; and Dungeons and Dragons, a towering maze of swim throughs.
Along Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu divers can reach Bligh Water and the Vatu-i-Ra Passage, which is famous for its rich marine life. Keen divers will head to Breath Taker dive site – with the clue in its name. This dive site has coral-carpeted pillars that stand 80 feet high brimming with reef fish, plus big open water species including slick and stripy barracuda.
The Aquarium is Tahiti’s most popular dive site and has a large sandy basin inside a lagoon with turquoise water and an idyllic setting.
There is a coral reef with an abundance of small fish: lionfish, angelfish, triggerfish and many more.
There are two schooners and a Cessna plane wreck also, making it perfect for a beginner’s first wreck dive.
The Marado dive site starts at the edge of a sheer wall that plunges deeply into the blue. Nudibranches are common here alongside Napoleon wrasse, blacktip reef sharks, trevallies and snappers. There are also eels roaming freely around the reef which really make this an exciting dive.
The Cargo Ship and the Catalina
This lagoon dive site features a shipwreck and an aircraft wreck. The ship begins at around 13m and descends to 25m; you swim the whole way through looking at the jumble of wires, pipes and collapsed beams. The wooden hull cladding has mostly rotted away with the wooden ribs appearing to be a skeleton with schools of fish swimming around. You’ll also be able to see a vintage WW2 Catalina flying boat which was scuttled in 1964. The local residents of this include clownfish and anemones.
Miri Miri, in Raiatea/Bora Bora
The gently sloping reefs of this dive site are filled with black tip reef sharks, turtles and notably giant Napoleon wrasse. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘roses’ also because of the fields of montipora coral that resemble a carpet of roses.
Tupitipiti Point, Bora Bora
This is a spectacular dive with a huge reef filled with caves, swim throughs and overhangs. The attraction here is not marine life, but you can see whitetip reef sharks patrolling, turtles swimming around the point and the usual array of smaller fish. It is famous for its purple coral, blue and red branching corals alongside red, green and orange sponges. It is a difficult to reach but well worth it especially for photographers looking for interesting terrain.
Best time for diving Fiji vs Tahiti
The dive season in Fiji is year round with visibility between 15m and 50m. However, the winter months of April to October are the most popular times to dive in Fiji when the visibility tends to peak between the months of July and early December when the water is cooler.
In Tahiti, the best time to visit for diving is also during the winter months of May to October. Generally you’ll find the weather to be drier and the water cooler, which allows for greater visibility.
The rainy season in Tahiti is from November to April, where underwater visibility isn’t as good, however the plankton draws more oceanic fish into the water, making diving just as interesting. November is also a good time to spot whales in and around Tahiti.
EXPLORE TURTLE ISLAND FIJI
At Turtle Island Resort Fiji diving is included in the nightly rate, which means guests who are certified divers will get a one-tank dive per day for free.
Warm water that is 27-30°C (80-86°F) all year round, abundant wildlife and experienced Dive Masters will guide you on an adventure into paradise allowing you to get up close and personal with sharks, rays and turtles and see colorful coral gardens.
Vertical Blue, Turtle Island Resort’s dive partner, will equip you with all your dive gear (except for adjustable fins and booties), any tuition you may need, guided dives for all levels, and they’ll happily provide extra tanks and dives for an additional fee.
Shared with just 14 other couples, Turtle Island Resort really does feel like your own slice of paradise. With 500 acres of lush forests to explore and 12 private beaches, at Turtle Island Resort you really can escape the crowds.
Get in touch today to start planning your next vacation to Turtle Island.