I went to Robinson Crusoe Island to learn to scuba dive with Aqua Trek dive center. They offered a good deal on the
open water course combined with small classes. Each student proceeded at his or her own pace. During all my dives,
it was just me and the instructor. There wasn't a lot to see in the water, but as a beginning diver, I was impressed
with what little I did see. For example, I saw a white tipped shark, a morey eel, a lionfish, some rays, schools of
butterfly fish, Moorish idols, and hundreds of other fish I couldn't identify. In places, the hard coral was decent,
but most of the reef had died off a couple of years ago, during an extremely hot summer.
Even though the dive shop was small, it was professionally run. The equipment was well cared for and Eli, the instructor,
emphasized safety. One students was very afraid of breathing underwater. He would panic. Eli spent a lot of time
working with him. Before I left, he was out diving.
I ended up staying at Robinson Crusoe Island for nearly a week; which was longer than most of the other backpackers who
generally stayed only two or three nights before they moved on to the next island. Like the more notorious Beachcomber
Resort, Robinson Crusoe is a bit of a party island. The big difference is in the size and the friendliness of the staff.
Robinson is much smaller holding only 40 in the dorm and another 20 in Bures where Beachcomber holds over 100 in the dorm
and nearly that number in the Bures. I found the staff at Robinson to be very friendly. They were quick to welcome
everyone into games and activities. By the time I left, most of the knew my name.
In contrast, my experience at Beachcomber was far more impersonal. In addition to the hundreds staying on the island,
a hundred or so people would show up just for the day aka. day trippers. This made it difficult to get to know the rest
of the guests and staff. Other than the woman monitoring the section of the dorm I was sleeping in, only the dive staff
knew my name or bothered to make me feel welcome.
On the plus side, I found Beachcomber's dive shop to be one of the best on Fiji. They were very professional and
knowledgeable. Their equipment was up-to-date and very well maintained.