Koro Sun Resort

We arrived Vanua Levu, Fiji's second largest island and drove past the bustling town of Savusavu to the entrance of the Koro Sun Resort. Situated on an old coconut plantation, the grounds comprise a marina, two restaurants, golf course, rainforest spa and hiking trails. Our goal was to explore the several "house reefs" that are only a short distance from the resort.

We arrived on New Year's Eve and unpacked as we anticipated the evening festivities. At this time of year, it is common to have a few rainy days. Generally the rains last only for a few hours and then the sun comes out. While it was raining, we spent the afternoon in our well-designed and charming bure preparing for the next few days of diving and photography.

Sam, our Fijian divemaster, reported that he had been seeing a large school of hammerheads in the deep waters off the Dream House dive site. Even though it had been raining the day before, we hoped to find the hammerheads on this auspicious of the new year.

We decended and left the reef swimming into the deep blue at 85 feet. The visibility was low and we lost sight of the reef so that it was spooky being out in the middle of blue nowhere. Barracudas passed overhead. We hung around 100 feet for awhile but no hammerheads appeared.

Swimming back to the reef we entered a beautiful swim-through with rays of sunlight shining down. After going through the tunnel, we photographed the colorful corals that adorn the walls of this house reef.

Koro Sun Resort has a couple of reefs that are very close to the resort. Lepper's Wall is one of these. It is a very beautiful reef and is covered in colorful soft corals. We spent the entire dive photographing a red leaf fish, nudibranchs, and a pink nudibranch with yellow spikes.

The next day we paid a visit to Purple Garden, another close by reef. Soft purple corals, all different shades, large fans, large many-spotted sweet lips, large square-tail grouper, pink nudibranchs and more adorned the reef. The diving is very easy and Sam is an excellent guide having more than twenty years experience in these waters.

We decided to give Lepper's Wall another go, but today we swam along the wall in the opposite direction from yesterday. Sam showed us the prawn-associated goby. This is probably one of the most interesting marine bedfellows. The prawn excavates a large dwelling while the goby stands guard. The prawn is blind and keeps in constant contact with its bodyguard the goby, by using one of its tentacles.

At the first hint of danger the goby alerts the prawn and they both disappear down the hole. This is such fascinating behavior and a great subject to photograph.

Then Sam showed us two nudibranchs side by side, very different and very colorful. Hiding in the reef was a red scorpion fish that was very difficult to see. Bubble coral and Christmas tree worms were more easily found.

Sam would constantly signal us that he found something else. I barely had time to photograph a fast-moving ornate wrasse when Sam had somthing esle to show us.

The yellow fang blenny is only found in Fiji. We watched as this 4-5 inch fish darted around the coral heads. Its dorsal fin can be raised or lowered like a swordfish. But trying to get the fang blenny to pose is another story. We were extremely impressed with the diversity of interesting creatures on this little house reef.

The Koro Sun Resort has a very convenient location only a few minutes from the airport and the town of Savusavu yet is surrounded with tropical pictureque landscapes and plenty to do. A bulletin board is posted with the day's activities, which includes hiking, kayaking, tennis, golf, visits to the local village and the waterfall, amongst other activities. If you choose, you can spend a relaxing afternoon around the tropical swimming pool or take a massage by a babbling brook.

As it was News Years Eve, the resort had arranged entertainment for the evening. The local village came to help us welcome in the New Year. Live music and a room full of voices sang Fijian songs. Wooden drums beat out the rhythm while women and their daughters sang and danced then it was the men's turn to show their warrior traditions.

There was dancing and food into the night. As we had been accustomed to having early nights after long days of diving and activities, we found it difficult to wait for the midnight hour. The warm ambiance of th Koro Sun, its owners and staff, helped to create a memorable New Year's Eve at this beautiful resort.

On our last day, we went back to Dream House to look for the hammerheads. The visibility was not good although it had stopped raining two days before. As we hung again in the deep water out of sight of the reef, we waited for the hammerheads to appear. While we waited, schools of barracuda and baby reef sharks circled. We tried swimming close to the schools get a good shot but I could not see anything in the viewfinder. The only hammerheads we saw that day was the picture Sam produced back at the dive shop.

After the dive we went kayaking at Salt Lake, It was about an hour's drive from the resort through a small village. We unloaded the tandem kayaks and upon entering the water, we started to drift up the saltwater lava volcanic tube, which connects the crater to the sea. The trip was perfectly timed to follow the tides so we got an easy ride in both directions.

It was a beautiful afternoon. Drifting on the still water in the crater, the silence was only interrupted by the calls of the barking pigeons. After kayaking we were treated to lunch at the beach.

Even though at this time of year we had some rain and low visibility diving, the warm refreshing air was welcomed. Pleasant days and warm evenings meant we could do more without hiding from the heat of the tropical sun.

The beautiful grounds, amazing sunsets, wonderful food and friendly, helpful staff who quickly befriend you, make the Koro Sun a great place to visit.