During the summer of 2001 I visited Fiji, the soft coral capital of the scuba world. After the twelve hour flight to Nadi (pronounced “nandy”) on the island of Viti Levu, I took a bus ride to the southern port of Pacific Harbour, and then a boat to the tiny island of Beqa (pronounced “benga”). Beqa has no televisions, no phones, no roads…..and no cars, obviously. The Marlin Bay resort is the only one on the island; the only island inhabitants are the hotel staff and guests, and the residents of three very small villages, RaviRavi, Rtuirtui, and Dakuibeqa.

The resort is perfect for the diver who wants to be kept busy, or the non-diver who doesn’t. There’s plenty of underwater action all day, but little else to do besides wander the beautiful grounds, read, take a nap…..!

Rooms are individual cottages or “bures”…..

….which are quite tastefully decorated:

By day, the diving is exceptional. The island of Beqa is set within an enormous natural marine lagoon, so the waters are exceptionally calm, allowing for a profusion of soft corals and other delicate ocean life. We do two dives a day from the Marlin Bay’s well-outfitted boat - in between, we usually anchor just off the islet of Yanuca (pronounced “yanootha”), swim through the crystal clear blue-green water to the pristine sandy beach, and enjoy our lunch.

By night, we gather at “Bure Kalou”, which is the combination watering-hole and dining room.

We enjoy a drink at the bar, and share the spirited conversation that inevitably follows a day of excellent diving. Then we are treated to superb island cuisine, invariably made from local produce and, naturally, the freshest fish.

One day we stroll through the jungle terrain to the nearest town, RaviRavi. The locals we meet live up to the nation’s reputation of having the “Friendliest People on Earth”. And at the village’s school, a class of exuberant boys performs a native dance for us:

The week flashes by, then it’s time to sail back to Suva, Fiji’s capital, for a day of exploring prior to the long flight home. A beautiful, exotic temple provides one of my last glimpses of this remarkable island destination.