For those that like their dive sites the same way that Joseph liked his coats - amazing and in technicolour - the stunning south Pacific archipelago of Fiji has all that you desire and much, much more. The reefs in Fiji are bathed in soft corals of every shade, and its waters are inhabited by all manner of creatures, great and small, but with a particularly healthy population of sharks. The best diving in Fiji includes the rainbow reefs of the Somosomo Strait, the sharks of Beqa Lagoon and the myriad bounties of Bligh Water's remote reefs on a (hopefully) mutiny-free liveaboard. So, if you've always fancied a Robinson-Crusoe-meets-Jacques-Cousteau-style adventure, make sure you charge your devices and choose a good book at the airport, because there's an epic journey before you get to enjoy the epic diving...
You can rest assured that your journey will be nowhere near as epic as Captain Bligh's following the mutiny on the HMS Bounty. Travelling in an open seven-metre launch, Bligh made it from Tonga to Timor, and the path he took through Fiji, between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, now bears his name.
Nowadays there are far more luxurious ways to ply these waters, and a liveaboard is a great way to reach the more remote spots in the region. The Koro Sea area benefits from the large volume of nutrient-rich water that flows through Bligh Water, and is up there among the best diving in Fiji. With a mixture of advanced, current-fuelled dives and sheltered sites suitable for all levels, Bligh Water has something for everyone, including mantas and reef sharks, and is a particular favourite of underwater photographers.
Not only do the currents attract an array of fish life, but they also deliver nutrients to the reefs, and Bligh Water is home to some of the planet's most colourful dive sites. Soft corals of all colours adorn the reefs, with Mellow Yellow dive site being a particular highlight. But, for many the highlight is a submerged seamount known as E-6. The pinnacle rises from the seabed, some 1,000 metres below, in the middle of the Vatu-i-ra channel, and aside from the brilliant colours, is famed for its big-fish action, with mantas and occasional hammerheads for the lucky.
In Fijian folklore, Dakuwaqa is a shark god greatly revered by fishermen due to the protection he affords them from any danger at sea, and the favour has been returned. In Fiji, sharks are less preyed upon than in many other countries, and as a consequence, its waters are well stocked with a variety of shark species.
Lemon sharks, nurse sharks, black-tipped reef sharks, white-tipped reef sharks, grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks are frequently encountered, and that's just what's on display at one unique dive site: Beqa Lagoon. As one of the world's most famous shark dives, Beqa has to be up there with the best diving in Fiji.
The dive is a controlled shark feed, with experienced staff on hand to ensure a mesmerising experience. Sharks swirl around, darting in to seize a chunk of bait, and if it seems like all the sharks have backed off all of a sudden, scan the water for the hulking sight of a large tiger shark coming in for its share of the spoils.
Between the south-east corner of Vanua Levu and Taveuni Island is the stretch of water known as the Somosomo Strait. The islands funnel rich water through the narrow channel, feeding the myriad soft corals and attracting a superb array of fish life, both big and small. The vibrant Dendronephthya soft corals engorge as the current picks up, ready to feed on the flow of nutrients borne by the water flooding the channel.
The colours on the reefs, collectively called the Rainbow Reef, are themselves impressive, with famous sites such as White Wall and Purple Wall being particular highlights. The strait is not just about the stunning soft corals, though; Spanish mackerel, trevally, barracudas, reef sharks and manta rays also cruise by, surfing the currents on the hunt for a snack.
To many divers, this is the best diving in Fiji, but with Bligh Water and Beqa also offering superb experiences below the waves, it's an ongoing debate. If you want to know for sure which is the best diving in Fiji, well, they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating...