The Insanely Beautiful Coral Reefs of Fiji

If I had but one tropical location to dive for the rest of my life, it would be coral reefs of Fiji’s Bligh Waters. A labyrinth of current-swept coral reefs, Bligh Water reefs are covered with an insane profusion of colorful soft corals. Reaching out from the hard coral substrate from which they grow, Dendronephthya soft coral polyps grasp minute bits of food from the water passing by. Swarms of Anthias and other small fishes dance on the current, vying for the same planktonic food while trying to avoid becoming a meal themselves. When Fiji’s currents are at their strongest this show of life on the reef is astounding. I simply cannot get enough of it. While I occasionally photograph the smaller views of reef creatures, most of my diving in Fiji has been devoted to trying to depict this vibrant spectacle in expansive, color-laden photographs that illustrate how beautiful these reefs are. Below are some of my favorites from my most recent visit in 2018. These images were shot on the superb Nai’a liveaboard boat among the reefs of the Vatu-i-ra and Namena regions of Fiji. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Bligh Waters

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34708
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34716
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Gorgonian, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34727
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji, Dendronephthya

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji.
Image ID: 34709
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Dendronephthya
Location: Fiji

Spectacular display of pristine cabbage coral, Turbinaria reniformis, in Nigali Pass on Gao Island, Fiji, Turbinaria reniformis, Nigali Passage, Gau Island, Lomaiviti Archipelago

Spectacular display of pristine cabbage coral, Turbinaria reniformis, in Nigali Pass on Gao Island, Fiji
Image ID: 34714
Species: Cabbage Coral, Turbinaria reniformis
Location: Nigali Passage, Gau Island, Lomaiviti Archipelago, Fiji

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji.
Image ID: 34728
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Dendronephthya
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Colorful and exotic coral reef in Fiji, with soft corals, hard corals, anthias fishes, anemones, and sea fan gorgonians, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias

Colorful and exotic coral reef in Fiji, with soft corals, hard corals, anthias fishes, anemones, and sea fan gorgonians.
Image ID: 34739
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Anthias fish school around green fan coral, Fiji, Pseudanthias

Anthias fish school around green fan coral, Fiji
Image ID: 34740
Species: Anthias, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Beautiful Coral Reef Scene, Fiji, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island

Beautiful Coral Reef Scene, Fiji
Image ID: 34782
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Leather coral, Sinularia sp, Fiji, Sinularia, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island

Leather coral, Sinularia sp., Fiji
Image ID: 34711
Species: Sinularia Soft Coral, Sinularia
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Plexauridae sea fan or gorgonian on coral reef. This gorgonian is a type of colonial alcyonacea soft coral that filters plankton from passing ocean currents, Gorgonacea, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Plexauridae sea fan or gorgonian on coral reef. This gorgonian is a type of colonial alcyonacea soft coral that filters plankton from passing ocean currents
Image ID: 34712
Species: Gorgonian, Gorgonacea
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Pseudanthias

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34717
Species: Anthias, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Crinoid (feather star) extends its tentacles into ocean currents, on pristine south pacific coral reef, Fiji, Crinoidea, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Crinoid (feather star) extends its tentacles into ocean currents, on pristine south pacific coral reef, Fiji
Image ID: 34725
Species: Crinoid Feather Star, Crinoidea
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34726
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Gorgonian, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Red whip coral, Ellisella ceratophyta, Fiji, Ellisella ceratophyta, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Red whip coral, Ellisella ceratophyta, Fiji
Image ID: 34748
Species: Whip Coral, Ellisella ceratophyta
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34753
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Gorgonian, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Sinularia flexibilis finger leather soft coral, Fiji, Sinularis flexibilis, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Sinularia flexibilis finger leather soft coral, Fiji
Image ID: 34755
Species: Sinularia Soft Coral, Sinularis flexibilis
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Plexauridae sea fan or gorgonian on coral reef. This gorgonian is a type of colonial alcyonacea soft coral that filters plankton from passing ocean currents, Gorgonacea, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Plexauridae sea fan or gorgonian on coral reef. This gorgonian is a type of colonial alcyonacea soft coral that filters plankton from passing ocean currents
Image ID: 34707
Species: Gorgonian, Gorgonacea
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Bligh Waters

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34723
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Sarcophyton leather coral on coral reef, Fiji, Sarcophyton, Gau Island, Lomaiviti Archipelago

Sarcophyton leather coral on coral reef, Fiji
Image ID: 34724
Species: Sarcophyton Soft Coral, Sarcophyton
Location: Gau Island, Lomaiviti Archipelago, Fiji

Anthias fishes school over the colorful Fijian coral reef, everything taking advantage of currents that bring planktonic food. Fiji, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island

Anthias fishes school over the colorful Fijian coral reef, everything taking advantage of currents that bring planktonic food. Fiji
Image ID: 34747
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Branching whip coral (Ellisella sp) captures passing planktonic food in ocean currents, Fiji, Pseudanthias, Ellisella, Bligh Waters

Branching whip coral (Ellisella sp) captures passing planktonic food in ocean currents, Fiji
Image ID: 34752
Species: Anthias, Branching Whip Coral, Pseudanthias, Ellisella
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Green fan coral, extending into ocean currents where tiny polyps gather passing plankton, Fiji, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island

Green fan coral, extending into ocean currents where tiny polyps gather passing plankton, Fiji
Image ID: 34830
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Leather coral, Sinularia sp, Fiji, Sinularia, Bligh Waters

Leather coral, Sinularia sp., Fiji
Image ID: 34835
Species: Sinularia Soft Coral, Sinularia
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Crinoid (feather star) extends its tentacles into ocean currents, on pristine south pacific coral reef, Fiji, Crinoidea, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island

Crinoid (feather star) extends its tentacles into ocean currents, on pristine south pacific coral reef, Fiji
Image ID: 34710
Species: Crinoid Feather Star, Crinoidea
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Bligh Waters

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji.
Image ID: 34713
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Dendronephthya
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Colorful Chironephthya soft coral coloniea in Fiji, hanging off wall, resembling sea fans or gorgonians, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island

Colorful Chironephthya soft coral coloniea in Fiji, hanging off wall, resembling sea fans or gorgonians
Image ID: 34718
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Anthias fishes school in strong currents above hard and soft corals on a Fijian coral reef, Fiji, Pseudanthias, Bligh Waters

Anthias fishes school in strong currents above hard and soft corals on a Fijian coral reef, Fiji
Image ID: 34719
Species: Anthias, Pseudanthias
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Bligh Waters

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34720
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Anthias fishes school in strong currents above hard and soft corals on a Fijian coral reef, Fiji, Pseudanthias, Bligh Waters

Anthias fishes school in strong currents above hard and soft corals on a Fijian coral reef, Fiji
Image ID: 34721
Species: Anthias, Pseudanthias
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Bligh Waters

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34722
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Spectacularly colorful dendronephthya soft corals on South Pacific reef, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Spectacularly colorful dendronephthya soft corals on South Pacific reef, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji.
Image ID: 34754
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Dendronephthya
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island

Closeup view of colorful dendronephthya soft corals, reaching out into strong ocean currents to capture passing planktonic food, Fiji.
Image ID: 34749
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Dendronephthya
Location: Vatu I Ra Passage, Bligh Waters, Viti Levu Island, Fiji

Plexauridae sea fan or gorgonian on coral reef. This gorgonian is a type of colonial alcyonacea soft coral that filters plankton from passing ocean currents, Gorgonacea, Bligh Waters, Fiji

Plexauridae sea fan or gorgonian on coral reef. This gorgonian is a type of colonial alcyonacea soft coral that filters plankton from passing ocean currents
Image ID: 34750
Species: Gorgonian, Gorgonacea
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Bligh Waters

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34751
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Bligh Waters, Fiji

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji, Pseudanthias

Brilliantlly colorful coral reef, with swarms of anthias fishes and soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34762
Species: Anthias, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Colorful and exotic coral reef in Fiji, with soft corals, hard corals, anthias fishes, anemones, and sea fan gorgonians, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias

Colorful and exotic coral reef in Fiji, with soft corals, hard corals, anthias fishes, anemones, and sea fan gorgonians.
Image ID: 34763
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34768
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Gorgonian, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Colorful and exotic coral reef in Fiji, with soft corals, hard corals, anthias fishes, anemones, and sea fan gorgonians, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias

Colorful and exotic coral reef in Fiji, with soft corals, hard corals, anthias fishes, anemones, and sea fan gorgonians.
Image ID: 34802
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34803
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Gorgonian, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias

Beautiful South Pacific coral reef, with Plexauridae sea fans, schooling anthias fish and colorful dendronephthya soft corals, Fiji
Image ID: 34824
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Gorgonian, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Gorgonacea, Pseudanthias
Location: Fiji

Crinoid (feather star) extends its tentacles into ocean currents, on pristine south pacific coral reef, Fiji, Dendronephthya, Crinoidea, Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island

Crinoid (feather star) extends its tentacles into ocean currents, on pristine south pacific coral reef, Fiji
Image ID: 34840
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Crinoid Feather Star, Dendronephthya, Crinoidea
Location: Namena Marine Reserve, Namena Island, Fiji