The focus on Namenalala Island is enjoyment of the natural land and sea environment. The Namena Barrier Reef which surrounds us is one of Fiji's most diversified and spectacular reef ecosystems with over 30 kilometers of walls and bommies (sea mounts).
In June 2004 the waters within the vast Namena Barrier Reef were declared a marine reserve with all commercial fishing banned to permit fish stocks to breed and become as abundant as they were 20 years ago prior to commercial fishing ventures. Although we still must run out poachers, as does every nation across the world, we are seeing a fast recovery in variety and numbers of all sorts of marine life which, in turn, encourages a healthy reef ecosystem. The South Pacific claims over 300 varieties of corals in comparison to around 30 varieties in the Caribbean seas. The Fiji Islands are known as the Soft Coral capital of the Pacific and the various colours and hues boggle the mind. Snorkelers have the same advantage as divers in enjoyment of the underwater world with the exception that snorkelers cannot remain for long periods of time beneath the surface as do our scuba diving companions.
As you can see by the photo above, the vastness of the unique Namena Barrier Reef. We calculate between 25-30 kilometers of reef. This ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the Fiji Islands with sheer drop-offs, a mile deep at the entrance to the North Save-a-Tack Passage which we named Grand Canyon and adjacent to that site is Fish Patch and Kansas, the latter reminiscent of the golden wheat fields of the state of Kansas, USA. On the opposite passage of South Save-a-Tack you will find mostly bommies (seamounts) with names of Chimneys, Magic Mountain, Pirates Den, Tetons, Neptunes Haunt, Seven Dwarfs, Black Forrest and lots more. Between South Save-a-Tack around to North Save-a-Tack there are many wall dives - Rainbow Wall, Unmarked Passage, Manta Mount, Cascades, the Finger-tip and more. A couple of the more-exposed sites south of Namenalala Island (at bottom of the photo above) are not always accessible during our winter months of July and August. The Pirate's Den has swim-throughs - sort of half-caves.
Depending on prevailing sea conditions, snorkelers are invited to join the scuba divers on the Namena Barrier Reef at no additional charge. There are reefs along the shoreline which are excellent for snorkelers year round. We do two excursions a day; boat departs the dock at 9 a.m. for the morning snorkel/dive returning around 11 a.m. in time for a short hike or to laze on the beach. Then a liesurely buffet lunch around noon and perhaps a short siesta before the afternoon boat departs the dock between 1:30-2:00 p.m., depending upon the dive site chosen by your divemaster. Most boat trips are a 10-15 minute journey from the dock to the dive/snorkel site; the Fingertip is between 20-30 minutes away, depending upon which excursion boat is being used. Tofua is a 33 foot cabin cruiser and our newest addition, Salt Shaker, is a 28 foot launch with a 200 H.P. engine so takes half the time as Tofua getting to and from our dive sites.
There are no moorings in the Namena Marine Reserve. We do not ever drop an anchor but our trained boat crew will drop off the snorkelers and divers and drift along nearby for pick-ups whenever it suits each individual to get out of the water. We recommend divers carry a dive safety sausage. We do not teach diving; therefore, one must bring his/her dive certification card in order to dive with us.
The Namena Barrier Reef abounds with hundreds of varieties of reef fishes, nudibranchs, sea cucumbers (beche-de-mer), barracuda, sharks, trevally, clownfish, trigger fish, wrasse, an occasional manta, turtles and a multitude more sea creatures. After your snorkel or scuba dive, make use of our vast library of the underwater creatures you will have seen.
Although turtles live in our waters year round, there is more activity during the breeding, nesting and hatching season between November and March. Our most popular turtle is the hawksbill although we do have some green turtles. We had an unusual happening in mid-October 2005 where arriving guests were witness to a turtle nest hatching! The latest we have ever seen a nest hatch was one season in the mid 1990's when the winter weather arrived earlier than normal and a nest hatched in late July so the incubation period was much longer than 60 days. In October turtles from far away - like Samoa - arrive to breed. It has been documented via satellite tracking that it took 2 months for the turtles to make the journey between Samoa and Namena Island and other parts of Fiji.
- Water temperatures range from 75/76 F. in July and August (Fiji's winter); average remainder of the year is around 80-82 F.
- Recommend 3mm wetsuits (long leg/long sleeve) for winter months
- Recommend 2-3mm shorty wetsuits for summer months (November through February)
- Snorkelers recommend stretchy lycra bodysuits - lightweight, easy to pack and good protection from the sun
We do not permit 'reef-walking' as it destroys millions of minute creatures every step one takes! Even though the top of the reef may look dead, it really is not. As this is now the Namena Marine Reserve, we ask everyone to help support the reserve by purchasing a beautiful plastic tag which depicts an underwater animal and the proceeds go to the native 'owners' of the waters within the reef as a reward for not fishing. The cost of the tag is nominal at F$25 and is valid throughout the year.
Kayaks: You are welcome to use our kayaks at any time. The island is about a mile long and it takes between 2-3 hours to circumnavigate by kayak. Others spend the day kayaking from beach to beach, stopping to snorkel the areas. We send a picnic lunch to a designated area for the couple to pick up. Or, spend a morning or afternoon hiking to the Dragon's Head; one trail follows the ridge where at the highest point of the island - 400 feet- you will find the remains of an ancient ring fortification - relics of the migratory Lapita people who lived in the islands prior to the present-day Fijian peoples. Walk through virgin tropical forests and observe nesting red-footed boobys, resident fruitbats hanging in their 'camp', watch the lesser frigates circling high above waiting for the boobys to come home with their dinner so they can attack and force the booby to drop the fish, catching it in midair! Make your way to the head of the 'dragon' and observe one of the most spectacular views far out to sea. Join the staff in a fun game of beach volleyball. There is also complimentary snorkel equipment so you can visit the clam beds off the docks or snorkel the shoreline. We also offer fishing - either handline or trolling. We do NOT permit spearfishing. If you feel 'lazy', crawl into one of the hammocks at the beach and take a snooze or read a book. We have a large paperback library of every type of novel you would like to read; from non-fiction to mystery, romance, action, and more.
Pacific Pigeon (pictured right)