Fiji, the “soft coral capital of the world”

Fiji is a cluster of more than 300 islands and over 500 tiny islets and reefs, where snorkeling can be practiced almost everywhere. It boasts a great variety of sea habitats, including shallow lagoons, barrier reefs, current-swept passages and patch reefs.

Green sea turtle at the Naqalia Lodge
Green turtle encounters are frequent at Fiji’s reefs (here photographed at Naqalia Lodge).

The best snorkeling spots in Viti Levu

On Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, Natadola Bay, just an hour’s drive south of Nadi, is considered the best free shore snorkeling option. This public beach, located on the Coral Coast of the island, offers great snorkeling right off the shore.

Rakiraki area, on the northern tip of Viti Levu, boasts both decent shore snorkeling and short snorkeling trips to the vibrant nearby reefs. On the south coast, Beqa Lagoon is also a famous snorkeling destination.

View of the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort.
View of the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, Nacula Island.

The best snorkeling spots in the Mamanuca Islands

The Mamanuca Islands, which lies some 15 miles/25 km west of Nadi, are easily accessed with day trips from Denarau Marina, but you may prefer to spend some days in one of the several resorts (in particular on Malolo Island) to make the most of this fantastic archipelago.

Navini Island Resort, surrounded by a pristine reef sanctuary, is a renowned spot for those looking for resort island-based snorkeling.

Fiji anemonefish at the Naqalia Lodge
The Yasawa islands host some of the richest underwater life in Fiji, including species endemic to the archipelago such as the Fiji anemonefish (photographed at Naqalia Lodge).

The best snorkeling spots in the Yasawa Chain

For travelers looking for the best snorkeling spots in Fiji, don’t miss the Yasawa Chain, a small archipelago of about 20 volcanic islands lying west of Viti Levu.

There, almost all islands and resorts have house reefs, but it’s worth paying extra to hop on tour boats to snorkel just offshore, where the reefs are the best preserved.

A Manta ray at the Manta Ray Passage
The Manta Ray Passage, a deep channel between Naviti and Drawaqa islands, is one of the best locations in the archipelago to spot Mantas.

The islands of Waya, Wayasewa, Naviti, and Nanuya islands are amongst the best options in the Yasawa Chain.

Each of them gives access to fantastic snorkeling spots, where snorkelers can easily encounter sharks (especially at Moyia Reef, off Kuata island) and manta rays (notably in the Manta Ray Passage, between Naviti and Drawaqa islands).

Gigas clam at the Blue Lagoon, Fiji
Gigas clam at the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort.

Other exciting snorkeling hotspots in Fiji are the Namena Marine Reserve (which lies between Fiji’s two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu), the Rainbow Reef (a wall of soft corals, located on Vanua Levu’s south coast), and the Great Astrolabe Reef which is one of the world’s longest barrier reefs, stretching for over 40 miles/65 km around Kadavu island.

Which sea life can be spotted while snorkeling in Fiji?

Strong, nutrient-rich waters flow throughout the network of Fiji Islands, attracting manta rays, several species of sharks, sea turtles, dolphins and whales to the area.

White tip reef shark at Modriki, Fiji
Fiji gives fantastic opportunities to swim with big fish, like whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) – here photographed at Modriki, in the Yasawa Islands.

Known as the “soft coral capital of the world”, Fiji boasts some of the most beautiful shallow reefs and coral gardens, made up of over 390 coral species.

Fiji coral reefs support over 1500 tropical fish species, some of them unique to the region. There, you’ll easily spot clownfish, angelfish, sea snakes and butterflyfish just a few steps from the beaches.

At some specific locations, it is easy to snorkel alongside reef sharks, manta rays, or green sea turtles.

Yellow-lipped sea krait
The Yellow-lipped sea krait is a frequent visitor to Fiji’s shallow reefs (photographed at Naqalia Lodge).

If you are planning a trip to Fiji, we recommend the excellent Reef fish ID: Tropical Pacific (also available in ebook), the invaluable reference guide to ID the fish you will encounter snorkeling across the archipelago.

What is the best time of the year to go snorkeling in Fiji?

Fiji can be snorkeled all through the year, thanks to a pleasant water temperature of around 81°F/27°C. The wet season, from November to March, is characterized by warm temperatures (it can climb to above 86°F/30°C in December and January) and heavy, brief local showers.

A dry season, when the underwater visibility is at its best, occurs during the cooler months from May to October, but temperatures remain warm enough to enjoy snorkeling.

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