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Fiji from underwater

Diving under the crystal clear water brings a sense of calm, but not for long.  Fish start swarming from every angle.   Glints of silver and black stripes zip past me like bullets.  Suddenly there are hundreds of them all  around me in a fishy frenzy.

Why ? And  where did they come from so fast?  I  begin to wonder if such a commotion will attract bigger fish, and those bigger  fish attract the sharks.  My calm  temporarily leaves me.

In a slight panic I pick my head  up out the water and see an all too familiar grin of pearly whites. “Bula bula”  he calls out before erupting in laughter.   It’s Manu the snorkelling safari instructor, looking rather mischievous  and pleased with himself.  A chunk of  bread in his hand gives him away as the culprit for these swarming fish around  my snorkel and mask.  Feeling relieved  that it was not bigger fish chasing these smaller ones; I adjust my mask, bite  down on my snorkel, and head back to the underwater paradise.

With the bread all gone, the fish  have dispersed.  They have returned to  their day’s routine of fluttering about in the water like butterflies on the  breeze.  Below me is a garden of colours  that stretch as far as my eyes can see to the horizon of the ocean floor.  I must be in at least seven meters of water,  but it’s so clear I can see on forever.

Bringing my eyes back to the garden below I float on the gentle warm  current.  It seems to be enticing me  towards a large collection of coral erupting from the ocean floor.  I don’t fight it; instead I let it take me on  its journey.

My mind wonders, temporarily  distracted by the kaleidoscope of colours that surround me.  It feels like a different world under the  rolling swell I lay upon.  Every part of  the ocean is alive, breathing in and out a salty wetness.  I think about what I have been told about  Fiji.  Made up from 332 islands, I am  snorkeling off just one, Beachcomber Island.   I question how many more islands I could visit during my stay? And would  the coral and view I am currently looking at change from island to island, just  as the land itself does?

Snapped back into reality and  awoken from my trance by a fast moving shape out the corner of my eye, I scan  the surrounding ocean.  Satisfied it was  nothing too big, I return my focus to the corals below.  Seeing a group of clown fish I take a deep  breath and dive down into the blue.

Equalising the pressure in my ears, I have enough breath to watch these  cheeky fish swim in and out of the anemones.   I can see why they are called clown fish, as one brave guy darts out of  his sheltered tentacles and shows himself to me as a warning, ‘back off’.

Heeding to his warning I move on  and continue to explore the wonders of the ocean.  I close my eyes and just listen to the  underwater orchestra play its melody of movement.  Like the sound of crackling cooked bacon, I  hear the coral cracking from the small creatures and fish nibbling and pecking  away.  Feeling the surge of an ocean alive  I venture back to the boat slowly, taking in as much magic from this mystical  underwater world as I can.

Reflecting on my moments  exploring Fiji from underwater I look across at Manu who is perched at the back  of the boat steering the motor.  Still  showing his pearly whites in a smile, I follow his gesture and glance out on the  horizon.

The sun is setting on a perfect summer day in Fiji.  The magic from under the water has joined me, dancing on the surface as the suns light filters  across the waters and around Beachcomber Island on the horizon.  A satisfying calm returns and I exhale a  salty breath, relaxed in the atmosphere that is the essence of Fiji … pure  paradise.

Clowning around the coral