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.
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Reading this brought back some great memories. Last semester, I studied abroad in Fiji and got dive certified at Mantaray Island. Your pictures and article took me back to Fiji for a few enjoyable minutes. Thank you 🙂
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