As a diving professional I always do thorough research (reviews, magazines, talk to other professionals and youtube) before jumping in the next dive shop or dive site. The shark dive in Fiji, was certainly easy to research. Yes, it’s an awesome shark dive and it’s definitely worth the trip, but what I couldn’t figure out was which dive shop to go with. In Pacific Harbor, there are two dive shops Beqa Adventure Divers and Aquatrek.
So if you are convinced of going shark diving in Fiji, and if you are reading this – you are probably already convinced - I will try and explain the staggering differences between the two dive shops that offer the ultimate shark dive.
Here is the largest difference by FAR between both dive shops. Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD) is a dive shop run that runs like swiss clockwork. Clean, friendly, helpful, efficient… this is what a dive shop should aspire too. Aquatrek on the other hand had some major flaws. Crowded boats, uninterested staff members, overall dirty boats (imagine the smell of chum all over the boat), little regard to safety or diving procedures.... sorry guys you really have to clean your act. You guys canceled a soft coral dive for no reason at all and I couldn’t dive that day – not fair!
The quality of the shark encounters are very different and it really comes down to what you want to see, how close you want to see it and how often you see it in the dive. BAD you are pretty much guaranteed to see bull sharks, reef sharks, black tips and white tips. In all cases you will see them UP CLOSE (got my dome scratched by the tail of a bull shark). And you see the sharks over and over again, meaning if you want to get the “shot” you will definitely get plenty of chances. With Aquatrek you will see certainly see bull sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, grey reef shark and large cods. So if you are looking to check out species of sharks and fish from a plastic guide, I’d say Aquatrek is a “better” bet. However you will sacrifice having the animals up close and the reoccurrence of the sharks coming your way. So if you are a serious photo or video person, you will definitely suffer and you will definitely be haunted by the MILLIONS OF REMORAS swimming all over the place. To illustrate my words, see the photo comparison of a very typical scene from one shark dive to the other.
Price can always be a determining factor, especially if you plan to do several days of diving. Yes, Aquatrek in general cheaper, but there was something very unusual about the booking procedures with Aquatrek. When we booked online they charged the amount due in FULL, something I had never seen before… carefull with this. If you pay in full it will be extremely hard to cancel afterwards, if they implemented that policy for a very specific reason. Think about it. BAD, yes a bit more expensive at the end of the day.
If you want to check shark species from a list, don’t mind a sloppy dive shop and want to save some extra bucks, probably Aquatrek is your best bet. If you want the full shark diving experience, the UP and CLOSE story to bring back home whilst diving amongst true professionals for some extra bucks.. BAD is the dive shop for you… My take away: don’t be stupid if you are doing the long trip to Fiji pay the extra bucks and get the most out of the experience, the experience difference is abysmal. You will see the same differences once you are out there ;)
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