To do the shore dive at Paradise, one just walks down the stairs onto a cement landing, puts on a BCD and tank and jumps into the water. It’s that easy. There’s no wading in muck or a long swim out to the reef. The reef is right there. Just jump in and explore.
After my exhaustive run to retrieve my fins, I released the air in my BCD and sunk down 10 feet to the bottom of the smooth boulder covered floor. It looked like a lake bottom. Schools of fish grazed algae from the rocks. I kicked out a ways from the dock towards deeper water.
Along the way, the visibility clouded. Amongst large porite corals I saw staghorn acropora (the branch coral) smashed and scattered everywhere. Cyclone Tomas was here. The murkiness in the water was due to these smashed corals dying (tissue recession).
About 18 meters from the dock, the reef dropped off 20 meters. At the base of the drop- off was a large school of glass fish and below the glass fish were two blue ribbon eels. Blue ribbon eels are actually moray eels that are about as thick as a pencil. They’re surprisingly wafer thin.
Charlie, my dive master, kept nudging me as I filmed the ribbons, but I ignored him, until he literally turned my head. To the right of the ribbon eels was a resident lionfish, looking with strong interest at the glass fish.
Charlie then led me about 50 meters north at 20 meters depth, where I spied some nice deep water acropora tables and a living cowrie. Ascending to 10 meters, we cruised back towards the dock. Along the way, I came across some distinctive baby blue montipora bommies, the tops of which were covered with clownfish. They were truly beautiful.
The house dive at Paradise Taveuni is one of the better “local” dives in the Vanua Levu/Taveuni/Qamea/Matangi areas. No other resort in this area affords you the opportunity to easily dive or snorkel a GOOD reef right in front of the resort. Yes, the other resorts provide shore dives, but compared to Paradise, the other resorts’ reefs are not good.
Paradise’s reef was damaged when I dove, but if you view my video, you will note some large yellow rocks at the beginning of the dive. These are porites corals and they depend on storms, like Tomas, to knock away the staghorn corals that shade them from the light. In effect, Tomas cleaned up the neighborhood, allowing these corals to continue to grow.