Dua Tale, Please! – Protector of Paradise Fiji

Protector of Paradise Fiji Island Tour

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“Congratulations to our Protector of Paradise finalists- Atu, Hosea and Vin from Fiji, Blair from New Zealand, Magen from USA, Lauren from South Africa, Ara from the Philippines!” We look forward to our environmental-tourism journey with you!”

OMG! I couldn’t believe this was happening!
I was going to Fiji!

I had set a goal to scuba dive in 20 different locations by the end of 2020, and Fiji was on my list.  But not in my wildest dreams did I think I was going there this year and for free at that!

Protector of Paradise Fiji Finalist Ara
Super happy to be in Fiji!

Together with six people, I was chosen by Creative7 Ltd. for this once in a lifetime adventure. The idea was to show the beauty of Fiji and spread the message of conservation. We came from different backgrounds but somehow our love for the oceans had brought us together. For one month, we were given the chance to experience the islands.

Our journey as designated Protectors of Paradise started in June. Onboard the Captain Cook Cruises’ Reef Endeavour, we discovered the beautiful Northern islands and snorkeled in the breathtaking reefs. We also learned about Fiji’s history, culture, and its people.

Protector of Paradise boarding Captain Cook Cruise M/V Reef Endeavour!
Protector of Paradise with the Creative7 Ltd. team ready to board the Captain Cook Cruise M/V Reef Endeavour!

Quickly I learned that Fijians were incredibly friendly. “Bula!”, they would greet us everywhere we went. This is not just an ordinary “hello,” mind you. It means “have a good life”.  If the fish on their reefs could speak, I bet they too would say “Bula!”

I will never forget the day I swam with manta rays for the first time. Mantaray Island Resort helped me tick off a couple of things on my bucket list. Snorkel with manta rays– Check! Scuba Diving in Fiji – Check! “Bula”, it was. A good life indeed.

Swimming with mantas at Mantaray Resort Fiji
We swam with manta rays! It was my first time to see them in the wild! (Photo by: Creative7 Ltd.

On Makogai Island, we met with people from the Ministry of Fisheries who showed us their giant clams breeding program. As a diver, I was delighted to learn about their conservation efforts. Vinaka! (thank you) for helping to save these endangered species.

Checking out the giant clams in Makogai Island.
Checking out the giant clams in Makogai Island.

Later, Tavarua taught me a thing or two about lomani (to love). The heart-shaped island shows a lot of love for the ocean. Tavarua Island Resort is part of the giant clam breeding program on Makogai. Seeing the clams thrive in this Marine Protected Area was astonishing. Snorkeling in their reef and seeing so much life underwater made my heart pound. Where there is life, there is hope, even when the oceans are under assault in so many places.

The Protectors of Paradise learning how giant clams are bred in Tavarua Island's nursery.
The Protectors of Paradise learning how giant clams are bred in Tavarua Island’s nursery.

During our last week, we visited a school on the Yasawas. Through Vinaka Fiji, we shared with kids about the danger of plastics in our oceans and encouraged them to protect marine life. Remembering their happy laughter reminds me of the Fijian word Marau (be happy.) Being in a paradise like this, it is no surprise that one can find bliss. I found lots of it in Fiji.

Selfie with Fijian students at Vinaka Fiji Volunteers
Having fun at a local school… We love protecting our turtles and taking selfies too!

If I were to summarize my experience, it will go like this: Bula. Vinaka. Lomani. Marau. And Dua Tale (one more time), please!


This article was originally published in Explore Fiji Magazine.

The links above may be affiliate links. If you shop through them, I’ll earn a commission at no additional cost to you. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

Ara Juan

Ara is the founder of DiverBliss.com and PhilippineDives.com. She is a PADI Rescue Diver with a goal to dive in all the best places around the Philippines.

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2 Comments

  1. Kuini Waqasavou
    July 10, 2020 / 12:18 pm

    BULA!!! Love your work. We actually met in Makogai as I was also there to cover a story on the Protectors of Paradise! Love reading your stories and your photographs are just awesome! Keep up the great work. LOLOMA FROM FIJI!!!

    • Ara Juan
      Author
      July 10, 2020 / 2:07 pm

      Thank you so much Kuini! 🙂 Are you from the Ministry of Fisheries? I miss Fiji so much! I hope someday to be back!

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