Authentic Living Series
Our authentic living series is about doing what you are truly passionate about in life. Whether it’s photography, traveling, writing, or whatever else you have a passion for. For us living our most authentic life is exploring, expanding our world and stepping outside of our comfort zone. We don’t want to be stuck doing ‘what we are supposed to do’ in life. We want to create lasting memories and lifelong stories that inspire and carry on long after we are gone. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Check out some of our other authentic living stories here.
Snorkeling Fiji has been on our bucket list for quite some time. So when we got the opportunity to fly from New Zealand (which you 100% need to visit right now!) to Fiji we knew we would finally check it off the list. Authentic living 101: do something you’ve always wanted to when you get the chance.
When we tell people we have been to Fiji we typically get the whole, “OMG, I’d absolutely love to go there, how was it?” The answer is always the same, it was amazing! Fiji is a pretty diverse place (as diverse as it can be for a tropical destination). With over 333 islands making up the country there is plenty to see and do. We talk more about that in our post that’s focused on how we ended up in Fiji in the first place! Snorkeling Fiji is a huge tourist attraction for the country.
Arguably, it’s the number one reason a lot of people visit Fiji. With crystal clear water and spectacular marine life, how could anyone not want to?
We can’t (and won’t) deny that the countries waters are MIND BLOWINGLY clear. You almost have no idea how far away the bottom of the ocean truly is. Although it’s not the clearest water in that world, that would be a lake on the South Island of New Zealand (we haven’t visited that lake but we can say there is plenty to do on the South Island).
The waters of Fiji are littered with amazing fish and various aquatic life. On our first boat ride, we stopped at a few different islands to pick up or drop off other tourists. Each time we stopped we couldn’t help but peer over the edge of the boat in disbelief, and there were plenty of people snorkeling Fiji along the way.
It’s these clear waters that make snorkeling Fiji so worthwhile. Sure you can snorkel in places like Hawaii (which is one of our must-dos on the island of Oahu). But the water clarity does not compare to that of Fiji (surely there are some pretty comparable waters in Hawaii we don’t know about. But if you do sound off in the comments!). We are not certified for diving so our only option for underwater aquatic adventure is snorkeling. But we aren’t complaining!
Snorkeling Fiji can’t be a bad thing, right?!?!
Like we mentioned we had snorkeled in Hawaii previously so snorkeling was nothing new to us. Andy is a pretty strong swimmer for being born and raised in a landlocked area like Calgary, I on the other hand…am not. Sure I took swimming lessons for a while but swimming in a pool and the scary ocean are two VERY different things. It’s not that I am not capable of swimming, I am. I just tend to get a little more panicked when something seems to go slightly wrong…which is ultimately what happened.
When we landed on Mana Island at the Ratukini Backpackers and Dive Resort, which was awesome by the way (and you can read more about that here), we were offered a few various activities to do. Obviously, snorkeling was one of them. It literally only cost us $10 (in 2015) for a half day of snorkeling with a guide, transportation, and gear. An incredibly good price for a really awesome experience and story.
So we set up our excursion for the following morning and planned to head out early in the morning. A piece of advice, wear sunscreen and try to re-apply. We were a little crisp after being face down in the water all morning.
Another word of advice, for some reason in Fiji they don’t really believe in wearing life jackets. They have them on the boat so if you really wanted to us one there is that option for you just make sure you speak up and ask for one.
Gear in hand, we headed out. The resort has multiple boats, so around 6 of us hopped in ready for adventure. Speeding through the crystal clear water we ventured further and further away from land and into the open ocean.
What on earth could we possibly see snorkeling in the middle of the damn ocean?
Eventually, we reached a small little sand bar, seemingly in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Our masks went on and we all hopped off the boat after our guide. Again no life jackets on our backs, but you can surely ask to wear one. All of a sudden an entire underwater world opened up to us. This sand bar has SPECTACULAR coral with an utterly unbelievable array of fish and life. Truly a mind blowing experience.
There was more coral than we could have imagined surrounding this tiny little sandbar situated in the middle of the ocean. For the next few hours, we ventured in a circle around the sand bar as our guide dove deep down to lift corral and reveal more marine life. Well actually, he was looking for Fiji’s banded sea krait snake, which happens to be 20 times more venomous than any land snake. Thank god we didn’t find one. At one point he even told us there was a shark in the distance, which was a lie.
Can you imagine my heart beat after that comment?
Once we had circled nearly the whole island it was time for our snorkeling Fiji adventure to come to an end. Time to check that one off the bucket list! But it didn’t necessarily stop there….
For some reason instead of us just hopping back onto the boat in the middle of the ocean the driver decided to drive to the sand bar. So we had to get back into the boat from the small piece of land. Which means swimming through all the corral that resides in the shallow water surrounding the sand.
Now remember that whole…I’m not very good at swimming in stressful conditions thing? Swimming in a foot of water with waves pushing you back and forth and spiky sharp corral scratching your belly is a pretty damn stressful situation. Our guide told us to swim through the foot deep water because it was easier and potentially safer than walking and stepping on a rock fish or something.
NOT FOR ME.
Andy was in front of me by quite a few feet as I was struggling to make my way to the sand bar without getting injured. All of a sudden a wave struck me! Okay, that’s super dramatic. A wave splashed into me pushing me forward and forcing water down my snorkel. The waves continued to flow down my snorkel as I was face down in the water unable to stand up in the sharp coral.
In my opinion, I was effectively drowning. I felt like I couldn’t stand up in the foot deep water because of the coral, which meant I couldn’t avoid the water from entering my snorkel. I also couldn’t just take the snorkel off and breathe like normal because I was face down in the water.
It felt like I was splashing around the water for minutes as I panicked. I couldn’t breathe and I felt like I couldn’t stand up.
In reality, it was merely 15-20 seconds of me struggling to get to an upright and breathable position. Eventually, I managed to stand up in the coral with my giant flippers and regain my composure. As I stood up the entire snorkeling group was looking at me like I was crazy. The guide simply said, “You okay?”
Apparently, my ‘drowning’ had not looked as dramatic and horrible as what I thought I had just experienced. I happened to be filming with our GoPro when it happened. Regardless of what it captured that day, we love our GoPro and HIGHLY recommend them! All the photos in this article were taken with the GoPro. Back to the story….As I am being thrashed around in the water you can see the GoPro pan the sky and there are several people standing there watching me in water barely up to their mid-shin.
Now, this isn’t to say, ‘WHY DIDN’T ANYONE HELP ME.’ What I mean is I was perfectly safe, I was literally just too scared to scratch my knees a little on the coral. Swimming lessons to improve my confidence may also be a good idea.
I walked the rest of the way to sand bar awkwardly pulling my entire leg out of the ocean. My giant flippers still attached to my feet. Guaranteed I looked pretty damn stupid doing that.
But my life is more important than looking a little bit stupid.
Our boat ride back was refreshing and wonderful as we reflected on our under the sea adventure. It was phenomenal to see just how much sea life is right where you’d least expect it. Fiji is most definitely a great destination for exploring the world that lives under the sea.