In many areas like the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, where shoals and shores serve to curb the wind and sea, skin-divers usually have easy access to their world. But in the open Pacific, any one of 100 pinpricks of land may get the full force of waves spawned 2,000 miles away. Off the Pacific reefs a diver, like the Fijian in the rare picture above, often must plunge through fury to get to the quiet world. At depths of 20 or 30 feet he can feel each passing wave pull him seaward and push him shoreward. As the following pages show, each wave is a moment of beauty—so long as the diver keeps his distance: for as it topples, in the heart of the foaming wave there is still anger and strength enough to cast the diver back to the reef.
Above the reef divers of Fiji, the water surface one moment hangs like a sun-flecked canopy, then in an instant the canopy is lifted, twisted and torn apart by the force of a breaking wave