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“Secluded, comfortable, great diving: Just what we were looking for!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mai Dive - Astrolabe Reef Resort

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Mai Dive - Astrolabe Reef Resort
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Ono, Fiji   |  
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Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Ono Island
San Luis Obispo, California
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Secluded, comfortable, great diving: Just what we were looking for!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

My family of four spent 10 days at Mai Dive.

Mai Dive is a well managed, clean & comfortable 'low-key' resort in a nice pristine (& remote) location.

GETTING THERE: To get to Mai Dive, like most visitors we flew on a De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter air taxi from Nadi to Vunisea, which is one of the two main towns on Kadavu Island. There we were met by the Mai Dive boat, which makes regular pickups & drop-offs from the airport. The boat ride is a bit long, but it's worth it. We were taken Ono Island, which is just off of the south-eastern tip of Kadavu.

THE RESORT: Mai Dive is a small, very well-managed 'low-key' resort very much focused on diving. Bures (cottages) are well separated on a nicely manicured lawn with jungle / cliff behind and a nice sandy beach in front. It is not near any local villages, although a village is within walking distance (at low tide!). The rooms are very clean and comfortable. At night it is very quiet - there are very few birds or insects so you are lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf.

THE FOOD: The food was nice. We got pretty spoiled. However, like all of these small all-inclusive resorts, the menu is what it is. I don't see how anyone could complain about the cooking though, it was all fresh high-quality, well prepared and presented.

THE STAFF: Richard, the on-site resort manager and dive master/instructor from England is just amazing. He is so concerned about making our stay perfect it was almost embarrassing. We might mention that a soap dispenser was low and within minutes it was full. He is also a very good dive master. He was great with my son (age 12), extremely safe, but he instantly perceived that I was experienced enough not to need (or want) hand-holding. What a great guy - he really made the experience. The rest of the staff are kind and quiet. Maybe a bit too quiet for my tastes - I like interacting with and building relationships with the locals wherever I go. Fijians tend to be a bit shy at first, so we never really got to break the ice with the staff like we have at other resorts.

We were also lucky to be joined by Jason, Danielle & their kids. What a nice family. Jason helped his dad Joe build the resort. Joe lives above the resort; Jason & Danielle help manage the resort from Australia. My daughter (age 5) had a great time with Georgie & Jack and now asks about them every few days since we returned.

THE DIVING: First off, the diving is amazing. Even with not-so-great weather it was wonderful. I really want to return some day (soon!) to experience it in better weather. Even being unsettled, visibility varied from 50 to 100ft. There are less soft corals than more protected places (see: Matana resort) but the hard corals were incredible. Richard knew exactly when & where to go and knew the area like the back of his hand. And the dives are amazing, with 100ft+ walls including fantastic swim-thrus, beautiful coral formations, diverse schools of fish, even some big pelagics and sharks. The dive boat is new, well designed and very sturdy. They have a radio and a 2nd boat in case of emergencies. Most of our dives were within 15 minutes of the resort, except for Naiquoro Passage dives, which were a bit further out but worth the ride. And we did get a glimpse (unfortunately not much more) of the elusive Manta thanks to the efforts of our hosts.

I intended to dive every day with my 12-year-old son but unfortunately the weather was a bit off during our stay which was unfortunate - we only had 3 days of sun. And an ear infection kept us out of the water a few more days.

Overall we had a fantastic time. Clean, quiet, comfortable, friendly staff & fantastic diving - what else could you ask for? (Ok, better weather might have been nice)

Room Tip: All the bures are great.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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164 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (22)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Erina, Australia
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2012

When you read all these reviews, you think this can't be that good surely? Well, believe me it is, and better.

From the minute you book, you become part of the Mai Dive family, with Jason and Danielle taking care of everything, and making sure it all fits together. Then when you arrive at the resort, Rich and the crew make you feel like long lost friends, and the feeling of family grows throughout your stay. Several times a day, Rich would come over to us to make sure we were OK and doing the things we wanted to do.........we have never had an experience like it.

My wife and I (who don't dive but love to snorkel) had plenty to do. If we weren't snorkelling, kayaking, on a tour somewhere, or walking around we were relaxing on the beach or in a hammock. So whether you dive or not, there is plenty to do.

HIGHLIGHTS FOR US -
*Snorkelling for 30 minutes with 7 Mantas coming close enough to touch. That was a defining moment of our lives!
*The food - Ami is a great chef and ably assisted by Merryn and Noami. The food was fresh, well presented and absolutely yummy.
*Picnic on a deserted beach - yeh it rained a bit, but we build a shelter under a Butterfly tree, snorkelled, kayaked, ate great food and had the best time.
*Yabu (Bird) Island - great snorkelling, amazing to watch the birds returning for the night.
*The Mai Dive experience.......everything and everyone there - Jason, Danielle, Rich, Mika, Kenny, Dwavo, Si, Merryn, Noami and anyone else I forgot. You are Mai Dive and we thank you for it.

When it's all said and done, words can't adequately describe how you feel when you are there, the atmosphere, friendships, location, experiences. You just need to go there!

Room Tip: Just go......you won't regret it.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2012

My wife and I just got back from Mai Dive last Saturday and we had the time of our lives. During our boat ride from Kadavu we realized just how far away we were getting from everything and boy was it worth it. We stayed for 9 days and dove nearly every day and never saw another dive boat. And the diving was excellent! Each dive site was a little different from the last ranging from cavernous swim throughs to colorful hard coral covered bombies to Purple Wall, which the name kinda says it all with it's bright purple soft coral blooms scattered everywhere. We encountered sharks, turtles, morays, a myriad of fish and of course tons of soft coral...and we went snorkeling with Mantas! A truly spiritual experience. Especially because none of these animals were baited in, each was in it's natural habitat as it should be. The beaches you visit during surface intervals or on a private beach excursion (highly recommended) are the stuff of post cards with palm lined white sand colliding into crystal clear waters that take on every hue of blue depending on depth. The islands surrounding the area, including Ono itself, appear completely unspoiled, hosting only a few small Fijian villages. There are hardly any roads to speak of, so all you gaze at are luscious green islands poking out of one gorgeous piece of ocean. Our bure was cozy and boasted a hot outdoor shower, which was very relaxing post dives and the common space is equipped with a nice little library for readers, a TV and a variety of DVDs...can't say we watched the Tv much though. If beach front is your goal, it doesn't get much better, as my wife and I watched the sun rise on the ocean horizon every morning from our bed. You're also very well fed at Mai Dive where our chef was Sai and every meal was absolutely excellent. We are very health conscious people and so it made it even better when we took a walk up the hill from the bures to Joe's house (owner) where all your veggies are being grown. Farm to table? Not at Mai Dive, it's all right there. Sai's passion for cooking is obvious in the presentation of every dish and he happily caters to any dietary restrictions. I could go on and on about the diving, activities, food and overall relaxing vibe of the grounds, but I'll leave something for fellow traveler's to discover. While all of those things exceeded our expectations, it was the staff of Mai Dive that leaves you not wanting to go home. I think this is because they make their home yours, greeting you with familiar smiles and genuine happiness that begins from the first "Bula!" as you first step on to their shore. Maika, our dive master, was not only my favorite dive guide to date, but also lead cava sessions at night (good times - ask for a tsunami bowl), partook in the cooking of a traditional Lovo Fijian meal (delicious), but he also can sing and play the guitar and performed some beautiful songs for my wife and I on our 4th Anniversary and at our departure. Sai also sings (you can often hear him in the kitchen) and plays guitar. If you're lucky, they'll perform a duo with guitar and ukulele. Mere, Dee and Anna work along Sai in the kitchen, making some delicious pastries. They also handle much of the domestic duties and are always smiling. The resort host, Richard, is awesome and seemed more of an old friend than a resort manager. He is very talented at finding out what you want out of your trip so that he may customize your stay to fulfill all your needs and desires. His down to earth demeanor and knack for good stories made him a quick friend to us and the others we shared our stay with. I seriously cannot compliment him and his staff enough. They are wonderful people and my wife and I miss them already. I say all of this, not as someone who just had their first wide-eyed travel experience either. This was not our first rodeo. We've traveled to many countries and many tropical paradises and this is how it is done for those who seek to avoid the mainstream touristy hustle and bustle type resorts with large crowds and contrived feeling activities. Mai Dive is a wonderful place with wonderful people and if you're lucky enough to have stumbled upon it here, be glad you did and book right away, you won't regret it.

Room Tip: Our bure was on the Southern most end and was quite comfortable and right on the beach, though the o...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
nz
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2012

...which makes it rather special. A forty minute plane trip from Nadi (the landing on a windy day will make your heart jump) and a 2 hour boat ride from the airstrip gets you to this little slice of Fijian isolation. The accomodation is functional rather than luxurious (the mosquito nets are a necessary addition despite the insect screens) whilst the outside showers (thankfully with hot water) manage to be both quirky and indispensible after a morning's diving. Dining is communal and the quality of food is far above what one would have any right to expect in such an isolated corner of Fiji. There is a small selection of wine and beer etc available (which you might choose to supplement with duty free), and the topic of evening dinner conversation is much more likely to cover great dive sites of the world rather than the latest offering of reality TV. Because when all said and done, you will be here for what goes on out there on the Astrolabe reef, and it certainly does not disappoint.
We did 24 dives in all and found the diving very good to excellent - the reef is still in very good condition (minus perhaps some of the bigger pelagics - the local villages fish the reef as you would expect) and you will see the usual spectacular array of S.Pacific coral fish in visibility that ranges up to 40 metres plus. Soft corals are prolific on swim throughs and on the main Passage walls and we reckon we saw at least 10 different types of nudibranchs. Sharks (white tips mainly) are seen on most dives, whereas turtles are a little more infrequent. We were also fortunate to see a Manta 'flying by' at 15m in the Passage, a large spotted Eagle Ray and most impressively a large (3m) Zebra (Leopard) shark. We were also lucky enough to be surrounded by a pod of dolphins on our dive interval, and to have humpback whales breaching 300m away (its whale migration time in August) - thats something you would expect to see in Tonga or Niue but hopefully whales are returning in greater numbers to Fiji. The dive operation is excellent - both boats are roomy and well kitted out (we had our own gear but hired some on the last day - which was all in good shape), and the dive staff (Mika, Kenny and Richard) are as good as you'll come across. What is true of the diving staff is true of the rest of the resort staff - they are first class and Joanna and Richard run a very tight ship. Do remember though that this resort primarily is about the Astrolabe reef - if you are not into diving/snorkelling you might be short of things to do - however if you are here for the watersports you will have the time of your life.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2012

What can I say about this place except if you want to get remote and experience true relaxation and bliss - go here! My brother's family and my family stayed for 7 days and could have stayed forever! The service is amazing. The staff were wonderful and made us feel like family. The rooms are comfortable and the diving and snorkling was spectacular. It is truly Paradise. Oh and the food is amazing, fresh and abundant. Thank you to Joe for sharing his amazing property with us and to Richard and Mika for making our dive experience full of laughs and wonder.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2012

Spent a week in July sharing a bure with my 15 year old son. Fabulous spot with good accomodation, very comfy & appropriate. Friendly staff, nice food, very intimate with only room for a dozen or so guests. We did 13 dives and all of them were excellent. Great drifts in the Naquoro passage, lovely coral gardens, super swim throughs. Visibility varied 15 - 30+ metres. Boat and guiding were very good with nice beaches for the surface interval. The great benefit is they can go East or West depending on wind direction to find good sheltered diving. We hired one set of gear for my son & it was good with a computer & reasonably priced. Highly recommended!

Room Tip: All the bures are lovely & on the beach with decks out front & hot water showers. They use l...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandra, Australia
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2012

Our family of 6 (ages 9, 16,18 and 44) stayed at Mai Dive for a week at the end of June. Mai Dive was the first part of our 12 day stay in the Astrolabe Reef area, the second half being at a dive resort on Kandavu Island itself.

We had a brilliant time at Mai Dive. The diving was great with some amazing swim throughs, diverse corals and good fish life. (The diving from the second resort on Kandavu further south on the Astrolabe Reef, was similar but the Mai Dive area offers more for those who love swim throughs and exploring huge coral bommies and cleaved rocks). Mika was a wonderful dive leader. Our 9 year old boys were totally entertained when we were diving, either snorkelling with us from the dive boat or in front of the resort under the watchful eye of Richard or Mary - if they did not come with us. Richard 's attention to detail is second to none. Every guest's request (if possible) is accommodated with a smile and good humour. Si and Ami work their magic in the kitchen. The food was very special with plenty of fresh fish served, always beautifully presented. They were ably supported by Dee and Mary. The accommodation is perfect - clean and spacious - with all that you need. Danielle was terrific helping us with all the pre trip planning. Always accessible,thoughtful and patient.

Mai Dive is a small and very well run resort. It's strength therefore lies in its ability to offer each guest a level of service and attention lost in larger places. After a stay at Mai Dive you leave feeling very special and look back fondly on those running a very unique resort in a remote and pristine part of Fiji.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mai Dive - Astrolabe Reef Resort

Address: Ono, Fiji
Phone Number:
Location: Fiji > Kadavu Archipelago > Ono Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Ono Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Mai Dive - Astrolabe Reef Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Remote Adventurous Pristine Fijian Resort on Ono Island in Kadavu Fiji. The closest resort to the Great Astrolabe Reef. All facilities are new and absolute beachfront. Eco Resort with solar power, fresh water spring, vegetables garden & fresh seafood. PADI Certified dive operator & plenty of non dive activities. Maximum of 14 guests, as this is a low key relaxed family run resort. Fantastic facilities and even better food - come and stay with us a while..... ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mai Dive - Astrolabe Reef Hotel Kadavu Island
Mai Dive - Astrolabe Reef Resort Fiji/Ono Island

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