We have been having a great time at Viani Bay! We moved here on Thursday afternoon and arrived at the same time as s/v Stray Kitty and s/v Jackster. And s/v Gerarmar arrived the day before. Gerarmar had been to this area last year, and already knew the local dive guide – named Jack. They brought Jack over to visit the three new boats (who were already congregating on Stray Kitty for some sundowners). We soon were making plans to dive the Rainbow Reef on Friday morning.
Rainbow reef is the reef at the outskirts of Viani Bay – and is very aptly named. Not only are the coral reefs made up of all the colors of the rainbow, but you often find rainbows visible over the reef in the afternoons as the rains fall on the island of Taveuni just a few miles south. The diving here is spectacular, and Jack knows all the best spots.
We got up on Friday and everyone brought their gear to s/v Jackster. We brought two dinghies along. Six of us were diving, and Stray Kitty joined us later on their dinghy for snorkeling. Jack drove Jackster and the dinghies out to the reef and found an anchoring spot just off the reef. As we arrived, s/v Dignity was arriving and they hailed us on the VHF and were soon dropping their hook nearby. They took advantage of the local knowledge and did some snorkeling while we dove.
We had two great dives during the day. We saw lots of very lively coral, and quite a few fish. Only a few reef sharks were spotted during the day. And some saw 1 or 2 sea turtles. We saw a lot more fish on the second dive, and the sun angle was better as well. We had lunch on board after the first dive, and the second dive was mid-afternoon. We got back to the anchorage in the bay late in the afternoon. We were very lucky with the weather. No rain, sunny skies, very little wind, and the water was ultra clear. Visibility was 30+ meters!
Before we all left, we had all made plans to go diving again the next day. Another boat, s/v Dreamtime arrived and asked to join us for Saturday. This time Tahina would be the host vessel out to the reef. So, Karen and I spent the evening not only cleaning up our gear, but also straightening up on Tahina.
The next morning, we did some more cleaning and tidying. It’s always nice to have guests on board so you have the excuse to clean up the boat! We soon had crews from 4 boats, plus Jack, on Tahina. This time we pulled three dinghies, the crews, and all our scuba gear out to the reef. Jack took us further around to a new section of the reef. The water was even clearer today!
We again had two great dives. We saw pretty much the same variety of fish, with a few interesting new fish sightings. Lion fish, school of drum, big napoleon fish, grouper, lobster, clown fish, and some species I haven’t seen before. The coral and fish were even more colorful and plentiful as well.
Between Saturday’s two dives, we moved Tahina to the east end of the reef on the inside. Between the dives, we pulled out the Videoray ROV and explored around Tahina. The cruisers were interested to see it in action. The kids from Stray Kitty were excited to play with the little sub again (they had seen it last October in Tonga).
We also were treated to half-a-dozen different rainbows as some rain showers moved over Taveuni – the island south of the reefs. That’s another reason why they call this Rainbow Reef! You can see a small sample of the photos from the dives in the slideshow below. Our Internet connection is very slow, and this is the most I could manage to upload for now. More to come!