It took us just over a year to plan and save up for our Fiji trip. We planned our holiday for late March, as we wanted to dive in warm waters (the water temperature can fall to 20 degrees in the Fiji winter) and, hopefully, to swim with manta rays. We were lucky to get discounted flights to Nadi, but as we had not finalised our holiday destinations in Fiji, we paid more for domestic flights than we would have if booked all our Air Pacific flights at the same time.
Mai Dive is beautiful, the perfect place to relax and unwind. It’s very quiet and peaceful. The colours of the sea are amazing and the waves breaking over Astrolabe Reef in the distance are pretty awesome, especially as you can hear them. The staff are not-in-your-face, and leave you alone, but are ready to chat if you take the initiative. Listening to their singing as they go about their work is very special. There are plenty of activities, and even though we had planned on doing several, we couldn’t because we stayed only for one week! There is a small library, so if you forget your books, not to worry. Do remember to carry insect repellents though. I'd recommend Mai Dive for the excellent diving and snorkelling. If you want more detail then read on, but be warned this is a long review as we had such a great time at Mai Dive.
Communication: Very prompt, informative and efficient. Danielle was very patient and helpful, responding to my numerous questions with information and recommendations, not only on Mai Dive, but on Fiji too. She was also kind enough to accommodate our “special needs” for diving. Her checklist of things to take was extremely handy and with our own holiday checklist, we had all we needed. We did have to borrow an electrical extension cord from Richard, the manager, as our adaptor didn’t adapt to the plug points in our room.
Getting there: We flew to Kadavu by Air Pacific where we met by Kini the boat captain, who helped us with our bags, we got out of the airport building, crossed a village road to the beach and into the boat (remember to travel in shorts and flip flops, also mentioned in Danielle’s list). The hour-and-a-half boat ride to Mai Dive was comfortable (keep your sunscreen handy) in a calm sea. It rained a bit and we used the jackets in the boat. I’d never seen the colours we saw on this journey—blue sky, white clouds, green hills and turquoise and aquamarine waters. It’s so beautiful that the journey doesn’t seem long.
Costs: As one of the farthest dive ‘resorts’ in Fiji from Nadi, we think it is reasonably priced, especially when you realise how difficult and expensive it must be to run a dive resort efficiently. Everything, except water (they a spring) and some vegetables and fruits, has to be ferried in from Suva on a once-a-week to Kadavu and then by the resort’s boats to Ono. Obviously this requires precision-planning and Richard, the manager, and Joanne must be very good at their jobs as we didn’t experience any shortages. All guests stay on a weekly basis from Saturday to Saturday, as it is fuel efficient. Our cursory check of prices at other resorts made us realise that our week’s stay at Mai Dive was indeed value for money. You pay the full amount before your arrival and incidentals (activities, drinks and additional dives) can be paid by credit card at the end of your stay.
Diving and snorkelling: Absolutely fantastic! We were the only guests for the week and so had the boat and the dive instructor all to ourselves. We had already informed Mai Dive that as a Padi Scuba Diver, my husband could not dive deeper than 12 metres and they were kind enough to accommodate us. Then as we were the only guests, we did not feel we were inconveniencing others. We also loved was not having to wake up very early on holidays to make an 8am dive, loved the Fiji time here. The Astrolabe Reef is amazing and very accessible from Mai Dive. Bird Island was my favourite as I got to see plenty fish while also watching the boobies and the frigate flying in to the island and nesting for the night. Alacrity was another favourite. No dive site was further than 15-20 minutes in the big, comfortable dive boats. There are two dives in the morning, with tea/coffee/snack breaks on a deserted beach. There are drift dives, dives through mazes, caves, tunnels and passageways. The coral is abundant and varied with plenty of creatures of all colours, shapes and sizes. I joined the dive boat on most days to snorkel, and the visibility was fantastic, even though it had rained heavily on the day we arrived.
The house reef stretches for miles and we only explored a few metres; there is so much to marvel at. Our dive master, Mika, was good at his job as was the captain, Kenny (who sings beautifully). We always felt safe with them, especially when you are diving in tunnels and caves and passages for the first time, and I was snorkelling on my own (I’d recommend wearing a life jacket as you can relax and spend more time in the water). The equipment is good and well looked after. In the end, we did not get to snorkel with the mantas, although we saw one briefly on our last day on the way to Bird Island. Nonetheless, we were very happy to catch a glimpse of them.
Accommodation: The accommodation is basic and clean. Although we had booked only one room for our family of three, we were given the larger family accommodation, which included another room and bath/toilet for our son at no additional cost. Thank you Mai Dive, we appreciated this very much. The single large room we had booked was huge and could easily accommodated four people. There were enough shelves for our clothes, books, and toiletries, and luggage. With the sofa and coffee table, the deck chairs on the patio, we had all the space we needed to spread ourselves out and relax. The beds were comfortable and bed linen and towels clean. The room was a bit dark, especailly when it rained.
We found the room a bit stuffy and hot on still nights and because of this preferred not to use the mosquito net. Perhaps ceiling fans, instead of the small table fans, would be more effective.
The showers are outdoors, with hot and cold water. The water pressure is good and it’s great taking a shower under the stars. I’m not so sure about the drainage though, but the plants looked very healthy. There are no TVs, fridges or coffee/tea making facilities in the room, but we didn’t miss them. There is an ipod dock in the room.
Food: All meals are included in the price. There is tea, coffee available throughout the day and a light snack for tea at around 4pm. Meals are at set times and the food is adequate. I found the food cooked with cream sauces too rich and would have preferred more grilled fish instead of the beef dishes. Based on the reviews most guests love the food at Mai Dive. The beers are reasonably priced, however, the bottle of red wine we had hadn’t travelled well (the bottle is not brought to your table, but poured in glasses in the kitchen), the white wine was better. We were honoured to be invited to a kava ceremony to welcome home Joe, and to celebrate Sai’s birthday.
I would not hesitate to recommend Mai Dive to divers and snorkelers looking for some fantastic dives, and some peace and quiet; an eco-friendly lodge where you can recharge your batteries.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Remote Adventurous Pristine Fijian Resort on Ono Island in Kadavu Fiji. The closest resort to the Great Astrolabe Reef. All facilities are new and absolute beachfront. Eco Resort with solar power, fresh water spring, vegetables garden & fresh seafood. PADI Certified dive operator & plenty of non dive activities. Maximum of 14 guests, as this is a low key relaxed family run resort. Fantastic facilities and even better food with full board included - come and stay with us a while..... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mai Dive - Astrolabe Reef Hotel Kadavu Island