A season by season guide to encountering iconic species in the flourishing seagrass forests, reefs and sunken calderas close to COMO Laucala Island.
There are two dive seasons in Fiji. Summer runs from November to April, when whale sharks gather around the island’s waters, drawn by the summer plankton. ‘Winter’, from May to October, begins to attract humpback and sperm whales which migrate through Fiji, with August usually the best month to catch a glimpse of these behemoths.
In summer, the ocean warms to a balmy 28°C with plankton and algae flourishing, resulting in slightly lower visibility at times. But the warm water also spawns life. A popular dive on the inner reef around COMO Laucala Island is The Passage, which bristles with Spanish dancer, red anemones, angelfish and clown triggerfish. Long Beach is another, studded with feather starfish, sea fans and basket fans.
December is the coral spawning month — a phenomenon that’s led to Fiji’s reputation as the soft coral capital of the world. Nutrient-rich currents keep the coral in vibrant condition, while fish begin spawning in flash-mob-style displays that last through January, gathering in great shoals near the water’s surface. There’s a particularly popular breeding area just off our northeast shore.
February is the turtle hatching season, so it’s a great time to spot hawksbill and green sea turtles, while in March, yellowfin tuna are a popular sighting. April is a transitional month when you can expect to see white-tipped reef sharks alongside larger fish species such as barracuda.
May to October
The water is slightly cooler in winter, particularly between June and September, which reduces plankton activity. The result is the clearest waters in the diving calendar. This is also a good time to spot big fish, such as giant trevally, tuna, grouper and coral trout.
The winter season is when sharks tend to congregate in their largest numbers, including hammerhead, nurse, black tip, white tip, reef and grey sharks. The Big Blue is one of our newest dive-site discoveries and is brimming with tiger sharks, an occasional hammerhead shark, and schools of barracuda and giant trevally.
Manta rays cruise between currents, with September one of the best times of the year to enjoy them, thanks to low winds and calm seas. A visit to Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Strait on the west side of Taveuni is also a must. Our dive master has been here many, many times, but says he has only experienced a tiny percentage of what’s on offer, in corals, wall dives, reef fish and big schools of large pelagics.
There is a range of up to 50 sites within a five- to 20-minute boat ride of COMO Laucala Island. The resort’s Dive Centre is equipped with Scuba Pro and Atomic dive regulators, snorkelling equipment and underwater scooters, while beginners might choose to participate in our Discover Scuba Dive or PADI certificate diving courses. Night and dawn dives on the inner reef are charged at $100. Otherwise dive and snorkelling excursions inside Laucala’s reef are complimentary. Boat charters for diving on the outer reef are charged on a site-by-site basis.