Known as the “soft coral capital of the world”, Fiji boasts some of the best snorkeling experiences on the planet. The waters surrounding its 300 islands and 500 islets are teeming with kaleidoscopic corals, neon-hued reef fish and big marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and whales. From shallow lagoons and barrier reefs to secluded cays and offshore reefs, there are hundreds of superb snorkeling spots to discover. With so many to choose from, we’ve cherry-picked seven of our favourite places for snorkeling in Fiji.
The best places for snorkeling in Fiji
1. Rainbow Reef – Taveuni
Squeezed between Fiji’s second and third largest islands, Rainbow Reef is named after its colourful corals. It’s also one of the best spots for exploring the region’s famous soft corals and easy to reach from most resorts on Taveuni too. The lucid blue waters are bathwater-warm all year round and the clarity is excellent. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a few manta ray swimming through the channel.
2. Beqa Lagoon – Beqa
Just 10 km south of Viti Levu, Beqa Lagoon is brimming with soft and hard corals and colourful species like Triggerfish and Parrotfish, but most people head here to get up close to its bull sharks and tiger sharks. We recommend booking a tour with a reputable provider, such as Sea Fiji Reefs or Pacific Harbor Excursions to see the best the waters have to offer. Most trips last for around two hours and include a local guide and snorkel gear rentals.
Conveniently located on Fiji’s main island, Natadola Bay offers some of the best free shore snorkeling in the region. Easily accessible from the beach, it’s particularly popular with families – particularly at mid-high tide. Swells are gentle and also bring in a staggering number of colourful fish and other marine life. Visibility is excellent too. If you’re interested in free diving too, swim out to turquoise patches of water that often hide deep holes in the reef and secret caves.
4. Rakiraki – Viti Levu
Set on the northernmost tip of Viti Levu, Rakiraki is a a good 2.5 hours from Nadi. It’s worth the extra effort though. The waters are brimming with colourful soft corals, critters, sharks and turtles. It’s lesser talked about than some of Fiji’s blockbuster snorkel locations, so it’s an excellent option for those looking to get off the beaten track.
5. Namena Marine Reserve – Vanua Levu
Located just off Fiji’s largest island, Namena Marine Reserve is one of the region’s top diving and snorkeling destinations and the largest no-take reserve in the country. It was established in 1997 and now encompasses 60 sq. km of protected barrier reef, as well as the small island of Namenalala. The reef packs a staggering amount of biodiversity, with over 1,000 species of fish recorded. These sheltered waters are also popular with migratory seasonal visitors, such as spinner and bottlenose dolphins, false killer, pilot, sperm and minke whales. On dry land, the island is home to over 600 protected red-footed bobbies. It’s also a nesting ground for endangered hawksbill sea turtles.
One of the world’s longest barrier reefs, Great Astrolabe Reef stretches across an immense 65 km. Located just off Davuni Island, it’s an excellent option for those looking for a more secluded snorkeling experience since it’s far from large towns. The reef is healthy and home to a wide variety of marine life, including tiny rock fish, eagle rays and sea horses, as well as the odd shark.
7. Mantaray Passage – Naviti Island/ Drawaqa Island
Between May and October, this narrow passage squeezed between Nativi Island and Drawaqa Island is teeming with giant manta rays who travel here for the nutrient-rich plankton. It’s easy to reach the spot from Barefoot Manta Island Hotel and Mantaray Island Resort, both less than five minutes boat ride from the site. Boat trips cost around FJD 65 (USD 29) per person.