24 Jul 2012

Say it in Fijian

To walk the walk first you must talk the talk.  Every time I head to a new country on holiday I like to first try and learn a few common phases for when I get there.  Like how to say hello, good-bye and of course how to order another beer.  For those of you getting ready for your trip (or planning a trip) to Fiji here is your first Fijian language lesson.

First we'll start with a few rules.  
   "A's are long as in master
   "E's are long as in pet
   "I's are pronounced as a hard "E" as say street.  So Viti would be 'vee-tee'
   "O" and "U" are long say like in logo and lucy
   "B" is "mb"  as in member
   "C" is "th" as in the
   "D" is "nd" as in candy
   "Q" is "ng"  as in tounge

Now about about some common words and phrases.

Hello or Greetings
Good morning
Excuse me
Thank you
No worries
se'ga nalanga
A little/small
Great/a lot/more
vale lailai
One more
dua tale
What is this
na cava oqo
vaka malua 

26 Feb 2012

Diving on Fiji Time

If you have ever lived, visited or thought about visiting a tropical island destination then you have probably heard the term “Island time.” But have you actually stopped to embrace and enjoy what island time really is and what it represents?

For the past 8 years I have been living on one island or another and no island really represents island time better than Fiji. Fijians believe that you never know what tomorrow will bring so why rush today. To me this belief is spot on. Too many people rush thought life without stopping to enjoy what it really means to live. How life should be viewed and enjoyed and not just a race to see who can finish first.

Thousands of westerners travel hours and thousands of miles away every year to visit an island some place around the world, to relax and recharge their batteries on holiday. Few though are able to truly capture the “Fiji time” spirit. Many pack as many activities into a trip as possible to not miss a minute of excitement. Rushing from here to there to see all they can spot in one week, rather than stop and watch life happen around them.

Scuba divers are part of the many people who fall into this trap of trying to spot and check off as many adventures as possible rather than slow down and really see what's happening underwater. Turtle, check. Shark, check. Nemo, check. Another turtle, already found one, move on. Last week Vicky wrote about slowing the dive down and focusing on the small things, the nudibranchs, shrimps etc. This week my goal is to slow things down even more, to stop and smell the roses... underwater.
This past week I had the pleasure of teaching Jason his Open Water course. During his course Jason found turtles, sharks, anemone fish, lion fish, nudibranchs, countless other reef fish and found some really cool stuff. But the highlight of the course for him and me was his final two dives where we slowed everything waaaaaaaayyy dooowwwwwwwnnnnnn. In fact we slowed things so far down on the last dive we spent 89 minutes underwater and only covered half of the dive site. Yes, a dive site that normally takes 45 minutes to swim though we spent 89 minutes and only saw half of it. That's how slow we were going. Why did it takes us this long? Because we stopped at every coral bommy, looked in every nook and cranny for anything and everything. We stopped and enjoyed what was happening around us, watching a pair of jaw fish dig out their burrow for ten minutes. One fish on lookout guarding the other digging, then how they would switch roles. We watched as they chased off other fish trying to come in for a look, how one fish excavated a rock bigger than him (or her). Then a few feet later we observed the mutualistic symbiotic relationship between two species, a goby and a blind shrimp. The goby provides protection of a lookout while the shrimp digs the hole. Both animals now have a home, the goby does less work and the shrimp has a pair of eyes to watch for predators.

These types of relationships happen all around us underwater, but we have to stop and slow down to spot them, slow down to Fiji dive time. Spending 89 minutes underwater on a dive definitely helps. The more time we spend underwater the more likely we are to see something interesting or new. Actually this is one of the reasons Vicky and I decided to come to Fiji for diving. We had both previously worked at places that restricted divers dive times and we wanted to get back to what the scuba lifestyle is about, enjoying the underwater world for it's beauty and wonder, not just to make a buck. Too many dive company owners lose sight of why they got into the business and essentially lose site of what island time truly represents, life. They get caught up in what others are trying to escape coming to the islands for their holiday. I mean come on. Most certified divers are diving with dive computers so telling customers they can't make multilevel dives is ridiculous. By learning how to really use your dive computer or multilevel dive planner you will learn how to stay underwater longer and avoid your decompression obligations. Of course once you have all this additional bottom time only you can slow down and make sure you turn that extra time into quality bottom time to experience what's really happening underwater. Then come visit us and see what scuba diving on the Coral Coast Fiji is really about, quality.

All Photos By Chris Liles

7 Feb 2012

The Year of the Shark...

Hey Guys and Gals!

I decided to sneak in before Chris and write the blog this week because I want to tell everyone about something very dear to my, and Diveaway Fiji’s heart, and that is our sharks.

Yes, I hate to break it to everyone, but the statistic is true, you do have more chance of being killed by a coconut falling on your head than you do by a shark. And while we have a lot of sharks in Fiji, we also have a lot of coconuts.

Back in 1975 there was a book that was turned into a small production by an up and coming director, maybe you’ve heard of it, called Jaws. One of the true scare you out of the water movies, it followed the adventures of a ‘rogue’ shark as it terrorized a small seaside town on the north east coast of the USA.

The film became bigger than anyone could have imagined and unfortunately, damaged the image of all sharks around the world for the next 37 years. Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws, was upset at how his work of fiction lead to the image which is held in the for-front of many peoples minds when you mention the word ‘shark’ and up until his death he spent his time trying to alter people’s perceptions and protect shark populations around the world.

What people should have taken from the book and the movie is the elegance of an animal that has been in our waters unchanged for millions of years. Sharks are perfect for what they do, with their streamlined bodies they can flow through the water effortlessly, their cartilage skeleton means they can bend and move in any direction within one body length, and their teeth, the bit most people worry about, are specialized for the food that they eat, small fish for the Reef sharks, lobsters and crayfish for the Nurse sharks, and seals and turtles for the Great Whites and the Tigers.

Not only are we fighting to change misconceptions, but we are also fighting to change habits and practices. In 2006 there was a documentary released called Shark Water, and this followed Rob Stewart as he traveled, mainly around Costa Rica and Cocos Islands, trying to stop the shark fining trade that was happening.

The dorsal, pectoral and caudal (that's top, side and tail) fins are cut from the still living shark, which is then thrown back into the water, while the fins are kept and dried out to be sold and used in Shark Fin Soup.

A traditional Chinese soup it is generally associated with special occasions and status, but it may surprise you to know that if you just ask, many Chinese restaurants around the world do serve it. In 2005 a petition was started by 400 students to get Disneyland Hong Kong to stop the serving of shark fin soup at banquets held at their venue, something which after many arguments with environmental organizations and bad publicity they did do.

But the problem still continues because in every country where you have a population of sharks, you will have fishing vessels for fining, even here in Fiji, which is why Fiji is has started is Shark Sanctuary campaign which is aiming to make people realize the importance of living sharks in our waters for the environment, tourism and above all, the culture of Fiji as a whole. While Fiji maybe a small location on the map, the shark diving tourism industry brought in F$80 million in 2010, not a small number, and as the economy grows, this number will only serve to grow also.

And while Fiji doesn't officially start its shark count until April, we at DiveAway thought that April was still too far away and so with the New Year we started our own shark, ray and turtle count! So far we have had multiple sightings of our beautiful White Tip and grey reef sharks, numerous Hawksbill and Green Turtles, and some on and off sightings of Eagle rays.

Also to much to our delight, PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) has announced that this year will be Project AWARE’s Year of the Shark, and will be petitioning for the addition of many sharks to the CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) lists, closure of loop holes in fining fisheries and pursue naturally attached rules for major shark species, among many other things.

So in following with our shark theme for this year, not only are we getting all of our divers, new and experienced, involved in our Shark counts, but DiveAway Fiji instructors Chris and Vicky are able to teach you more about the importance of these amazing and beautiful animals with the PADI Shark Awareness course.

You can get more information on how to help sharks around the world at the following websites;



So whether you come down and join us in looking for sharks, or to learn more about sharks with the the PADI Shark Awareness course, even if you read this and just spread the word about protecting shark populations, every little bit helps!

Just a fact to finish on....Did you know that sharks do not get any form of cancer? Thats why researchers are studying the cells of living sharks to try and find cures for various forms of human cancers. Just one more reason to protect them.