Diving with Cousteau
23 October 2008 | Vanua Levu
We dinghied over to the Copra Shed dock this morning to meet the guys going to work at the Cousteau resort. We left our dink and they gave us a ride out to the resort. We zipped out of the creek anchorage and along the coast, then, surprisingly, straight through the middle of the pearl oyster farm. Local knowledge never ceases to amaze.
The Cousteau resort has a nice dive boat. We were the only outsiders amongst the 8 resort guests. Our first stop was around Point Reef to a place just outside the barrier reef called Long Beach. Ashore there is a beach but you are dropped off about 20 meters from the reef in the open ocean. A short surface swim gets you over the reef. It is a nice dive and the reef is very alive. I think the variety of hard and soft corals in Fiji, and particularly the amount alive, is the best I have seen. I really enjoyed the dive even though the vis was not much better than 60 feet.
We returned to the resort after the first dive and Hideko decided to go ashore to relax and skip dive two. Hideko rarely does more than one dive in a day because she gets cold so easily. After a while on the dock a few new divers joined and we headed back out.
Dive two was at Dreadlocks, a site across the bay on a pair of pinnacles. These pinnacles are dotted throughout the west side of the bay and make for some seriously hazardous cruising unless you have a very shoal draft. Some rise up to 15 feet below the surface others are at the surface at low tide. The pinnacles were nice and even more lush then the first dive site.
As we made our way back to the dock after dive two I reflected on the fact that this was a dive operation run my Jacques Cousteau's son. There was no Marine Biology briefing, no suggestion that you shouldn't touch the coral, in fact other than the minimal entry exit instructions there was little briefing at all. While underwater I saw staff stand on the coral while posing for a photo (with mask and reg off for flair), I saw one diver with gloves on crawling over the coral, literally hand over hand, rather than swimming. There were no reprimands or suggestions. Disappointing.
We made a reservation for lunch to ensure a place at the table after our dives. Lunch was expensive for Fiji but reasonable most other places. The food was very good and they have a new menu everyday, so you won't get tired of the fare. The service is good at the resort and everyone is friendly. We had a fun day but we hope Jean Michelle will boost the environmental awareeness of his staff and guests in the future.