Last Updated: 01/19/19 | January 19th, 2019
Learning to dive is something I’ve always found excuses to not learn how to do. Something always comes up. I don’t have the money, I don’t have anyone to go with, I’m too busy, I’ll learn when I get to Thailand, etc., etc.
The list goes on and on.
Traveling around Fiji with Gary from Everything-Everywhere, I was finally pushed, prodded, and cajoled by him to go scuba diving. “If you don’t do it, I’ll make fun of you on Twitter,” he said. With the thought of public embarrassment and the promise he’d come on my first dive, I relented. I was going to learn to scuba dive.
Making our way down the island chain, we found a dive shop on the island of Waya Lai Lai. The dive master, John, had been diving for 13 years and the surrounding area had some of the best diving in the Yasawa Islands. There was no better time or place to learn.
Dive day came, and the instructors took Gary, a French girl, and me on a shallow dive across from the island. They taught us how to breathe, equalize our ears, put on our gear, and what to do in an emergency. I took a deep breath, asked not to get the bends, grabbed the instructor’s hand, and began to descend.
We began the dive on the surface, and I felt I was there for ages. I felt like I was descending. Then I stopped and looked around. Whoa! I was underwater. I looked at my gauge. I was five meters underwater! We continued diving down, reaching a depth of about nine meters. The area had some good coral, but the fish were small, though their colors were amazing. And then, before I knew it, it was over. The air was gone, and it was time to come up.
Reaching the surface, I was grinning from ear to ear. “Can we go again?” I asked. And there it was. I was hooked. Back on the shore, I went to John and said simply, “You were right. I loved it. I’ll do the PADI course.”
Later that afternoon, we went out on our second dive. My new dive buddy was Irina, a wily Portuguese girl who had also decided to learn on the spur of the moment. John took us out and taught us some dive skills. I was most nervous about taking off our regulators underwater. I’m still worried I’m going to get the bends.
In order to get a PADI open-water license, you need to do four dives. Besides getting over my fear of breathing underwater, it turned out I was going to get over my fear of sharks. Once while in Belize, we went to a reef filled with nurse sharks. I refused to get in. I don’t do sharks. They scare me. Even if they are harmless. And what was dive number three? Shark feeding.
Turned out the sharks weren’t my biggest problem. About 10 meters down, Irina tried to kill me. Maybe it was all jokes her friend Paco and I were making on the boat ride over. Maybe it was a dive lover’s quarrel. But about 10 meters down, a fin flapped in my face and out came my breathing regulator. I felt myself start to panic, but remembering my skills, I quickly found my backup unit and put it in my mouth. John lunged over to my side to help me out. After a few minutes relaxing and calming down, we moved on.
Down at 20 meters, it’s easy to see why everyone loves to dive. Snorkeling has nothing on diving. The amount of fish you see, the beautiful coral, the amazing colors. I got to see Nemo up close and personal. And those reef sharks? Turns out they really are harmless.
Fiji allowed me to cross off one of my travel goals. I don’t know what I was afraid of before. Diving’s easy. All you need to do is breathe in and out. The likelihood of anything going wrong is slim to none. I was always up before my air ran out, and as long as you stay calm, you’ll be alright.
Learning to Dive in Fiji: Costs, Logistics, & Suggested Places to Dive
Diving in Fiji is cheap. My initial “discover scuba” dive cost 99 FJD ($46 USD). When I got my open-water dive, it was only 650 FJD ($300 USD) and included four dives.
These days, if you want to get your open-water certification in Fiji you should expect to pay around 800 FJD ($375 USD) — which is still a bargain! Most one-tank dives in Fiji will cost around 200 FJD per person, though you’ll get a discount for booking more. (A single dive might cost around 200 FJD but a double is only 300 FJD, for example).
While the diving in Fiji is spectacular all year round, you’ll have the best visibility between April and October (their winter).
Some of the best dive sites in Fiji are:
- Yasawa Islands – Perfect diving conditions for newbie divers (like me!)
- Mantaray Island – Here’s where you’ll see plenty of manta rays between May-October.
- Viti Levu – If you want to dive with sharks, this is the place to be!
- Taveuni – The world-famous Rainbow Reef is here, as is the Great White Wall, a vertical reef that’s 25m deep!
- Bligh Waters – Offers tons of colorful wildlife and coral.
- Kadavu – Here you’ll find one of the world’s largest barrier reefs!
If you want to learn to dive, make sure you do it in a place like Fiji, Thailand, or Bali as they’re affordable and have some of the best diving in the world. You’ll pay half as much as you would in places like the U.S., Australia, or the Caribbean yet you’ll still get safe, quality diving instructions.
If you haven’t learned to scuba dive, you should. As much as I wanted to learn, I always found an excuse because I was just scared. It turns out diving isn’t that scary, and it’s really easy to breathe underwater. Go scuba dive. If I can get over my fear, you can too.
Book Your Trip to Fiji: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite place to stay is:
- Mantaray Island Resort – With private rooms and a massive dorm, this is a great place to base your trip from. The rooms are clean and the staff are helpful!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!
Want More Information on Fiji?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Fiji for even more planning tips!