All of my expectations were either met or exceeded. Having dived several other places I can honestly say this was by far the best dive experience of my life. I don't know where to begin.
My decision to come here was based on the reviews and easy access. It is very frustrating trying to plan a trip when you have to take three or four different airplanes to get there. But what was great about Fiji and this place is it was a direct flight from Los Angeles via Fiji Airways. At the airport we were met with the transfer agent who loaded our bags in an air-conditioned van, and drove us three hours to the resort, which is in a very remote village in the north of the main island. The last 20 minutes of the ride to the resort is bumpy, since it is an unpaved road. It was not great after traveling for 24 hours.
The pricing for the Dive package, which included our meals, was very competitive and less expensive than many other places. We had some issues with the rooms when we arrived, namely the air-conditioners were not working properly, so they moved my room to a unit that worked better but the room was smaller. The manager was very accommodating and he gave me a free massage for my troubles. I was jetlagged and irritable to begin with, ha ha. All meals were included, but they charged extra for sodas which I felt was nickel diming, but so what I'm on vacation at this point. Staff quickly knows who you are, knows your name and greets you by your name and you don't know how in the world they learn your name so quickly. More on the staff later and the sweetness of the people.
I chose the nitrox package unlimited for the week, which was very reasonable. The package only includes one, two tank boat dives per day,, so we paid extra for the third tank and did three tank boat dives every day, and it was soooo worth it. There's nothing else to do on the resort but swim in the pool eat drink and get massages, so we wanted to do as much Diving as possible since we were so far away from home. The dive shop charges a little more than most Dive resorts, but this is because the best dive sites are an hour away, and up to 23 or more nautical miles from the dock.
We had incredibly personalized service, which included a captain , a deck hand and a diver that came with us on the dives, and on some days the two managers came with us. We had extensive Dive briefings and great camaraderie during our seven Diving days. It was like we became a family ha ha. These guys knew the waters like the back of their hands, and found the best sites 20 miles out without without GPS. Crazy !
The best reefs were in the upper passage of the Vatu Ra straight, in the Bligh waters ( captain Bligh- Mutiny on the Bounty). Unfortunately last year there was a cyclone which reeked havoc on a lot of the reefs. About a third of the reefs were in extremely bad shape and affected the cyclone. But these reefs on a bad day are better than some other places on their best day. We ordered lunch the night before, and they had our lunch and fresh fruit and water on the boat for us. The weather greatly depends on where you can go that day. The closest dive sites were most affected by the cyclone, so you must pray for good weather so that you can go into the outer reaches where the best reefs are, it is what they are famous for. The dive shop managers, and the captain are absolutely committed to showing you the best dive sites which are farther out, which I thought was refreshing since a lot of Dive operators like to stay as close as possible to save on gas. That is not the case with these people.
The reefs are mind blowing, put simply. There are some unpredictable currents, but they would never put intermediate or beginner divers in areas where they know the currents are bad. Since they felt comfortable with us, they took us to some challenging dive sites, one was called the Maytag reef, Which as the name implies has crazy Currents. But it was a lot of fun and very rewarding. The video that I took and sent to people literally blew their minds. We saw at least one shark on every Dive, and they were usually the white tip reef sharks. The fish population is extremely abundant, more than you could look at. All kinds of beautiful and interesting species of angelfish and butterfly fish, and too many others to mention. We saw a few turtles here and there for good measure.
Another word on the resort, the people in general are very sweet, and the culture is very hospitable. But it is not a fake niceness, it is genuine. I had to get used to the fact that the resort is situated in a very remote location, about 20 minutes from the closest village. The village is nothing to write home about, there's absolutely nothing to do in the village, and not even one proper restaurant. So you were stuck at the resort so to speak which is not the worst place today after all. They were a few charges on the bill that had to be removed, and right now I am stuck because there's a problem with the credit card company on their end, they're trying to void the transaction and rerun the transaction. It is created kind of a hassle, but nothing is perfect. Also, and I think this is really important, the Wi-Fi costs extra but it works like lightning and is very reliable. There is also Cell phone service here via my ATT wireless phone company, So you can stay connected if you choose to. There is no TV in the rooms, And the rooms are extremely clean but could possibly use a little sprucing up, especially some new air-conditioners that actually do the job of cooling the room. One thing that was slightly annoying to me is that I don't like stairs. The resort is on the side of the hill so everything is up and down, and if you are not in shape you will really have a hard time getting from one end of the resort to the other.
The food is really excellent considering how remote the place is. There are Indian chefs to turn out an international cuisine. I am a vegetarian, and had no problem finding great vegetarian choices at all meals. There is a four-man ukulele band singing Fiji songs every night, and they offer kava tea in a big bowl which is a local drink that kind of makes you high haha. Alcohol is extra at all meals, and I guess you could say we racked up a lot of extras on that trip haha. So as you can see we had an amazing dive experience, actually a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Which on the resort side had some slight glitches. But all in all I can absolutely recommend this place especially for the Diving. Chris and Vicky at the dive shop will absolutely will give you a dive trip of a lifetime !
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The real Fiji! Perfect for romance; fabulous for diving excellent for culture. 34 deluxe bures nestled along the beach and amongst tropical gardens. A real island experience with mainland convenience. Located 85 scenic coastline miles from Nadi International Airport. Great food, fantastic staff, unparalleled views, world class diving & snorkeling; amazing village tours and a perfect wedding venue. This is a true Fijian experience and is, as the name suggests, Wananavu, translated loosely as Awesome! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Wananavu Beach Hotel Rakiraki
- Wananavu Beach Rakiraki
- Wananavu Beach Resort Fiji/Rakiraki