Somewhere on the far side of the world, in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, lies a collection of islands ideal for the perfect holiday. Tourist magazines dazzle with images of crystal water, the greens of palm trees and ubiquitous straw roofs of villas situated just by the water. This image summons a dreamy smile to your face, as you slip into a fantasy of girls in coconut bikinis smoothly move to the rhythm of a ukulele melody, whenever you hear a name like Bora Bora or Tahiti. But let’s get back to reality and prepare you with all that’s necessary to know about vacationing in this region, starting with diving. The diving in French Polynesia is first among the top tier of leisure activities available. Let's learn just what can be seen underwater and on what within this paradise place best deserves your attention and hard-earned money.
There’s a mild tropical climate, with average air temperatures of +25C all year round. Seasons aren’t clearly defined here and are roughly divided into dry (from May to October) and wet (from November to March) months. Heavy rainsoccur from time-to-time at night during the wet season. Water temperatures range from +26C to 29C, meaning that diving is possible through all 12 months. The Water is so clean and clear that visibility can reach 40 meters. Depths range from 3 to 50 meters and are suitable both for beginners and experienced divers.
The main place for those who’re into drift diving. Tiputa Pass connects a lagoon with the open ocean and is located in the northwest part of the island Rangiroa. The best time for drifting comes with the inflow. Dives take place outside the pass and divers are picked up by the current which carries them into the lagoon. Exhilaration isn’t all that awaits divers here, there are also plenty of local inhabitants; dolphins, mantas, school of tunas and turtles all await you. In June and July there’s a high probability of meeting gray reef sharks. The depths here go down as low as 24 meters, meaning that ability in controlling your buoyancy and drift diving is obligatory. If you don't feel confident, your dive guide will show you places where there are no currents, without sacrificing any of the underwater world’s variety. One of these places is called Nukhi Nukhi Moty and is ideal for those taking their first steps in the underwater world. Depths range from 3 to 10 meters. This dive site is full of colored reef fish and, in addition to these, divers can meet rays and blacktip sharks seen on the sandy bottom. This is a perfect place for a first experience!
This pass in the north of the Fakarava Atoll boasts the distinction of being one of the best place to see hundreds species of sharks. During dives here, blacktip, silk and hammerhead sharks form themselves into a solid wall, a show that’s sure to take your breath away! But don’t worry, people are too large for sharks to catch and, in actuality, sharks are afraid of divers. The Garue Pass is about 1.5km wide and, like Tiputa Pass, there are strong currents in places which pick up divers and carry them down a powerful stream into the lagoon. 18 meters down, the pass leads to a coral garden where divers can take a break and admire barracudas, napoleon-fish, large turtles and multi-colored nudibranchs. Visibility is excellent in this place and pictures turn out fantastic!
Nordby is a big three-masted metal boat, 50 meters long and 7 meters wide. In 1900, while she was returning from New Caledonia, she sank in a storm off the sandy shores of Tahiti. The hull is almost undamaged and two of the three masts are well preserved. It's easily possible to enter the interior through the wooden deck and see a great number of the vessel’s new tenants, among them being surgeonfish, lionfish, fish stonefish and snappers. A great abundance of black corals are also present at this dive site. This wreck is situated at a depth of 29 meters and can be reached from the shore.
On Tahiti there is one more place which combines two interesting wrecks. The 30 meter skeleton of a wooden ship begins 13 meters down, stretching out to a final depth of 25 meters. Divers can float along its full length, through the jungle of wires, pipes and the fallen beams. The eerie landscape is complemented by various anemones and schools of reef fish. There's also a Catalina (a bomber of the Second World War) wreck nearby. It sustained serious damage and was intentionally sunk in 1964, well after the war. The plane lies on its right wing, on a sandy shallow, at a depth of 15 meters.
The plane can be entered through its cabin or cargo bay. The Good visibility allows for observation of all the details. Both these wrecks lie just 10 meters apart from each other and you can explore them both in one dive.
All of the Polynesian islands are surrounded by beautiful and healthy reefs and regardless of whichever island you choose, the underwater world won't disappoint you. But for the fullest experience, it's better to include several islands in to your route. Their abundance of colors, steep walls, wrecks, shallow lagoons and breathtaking drift diving is a real labyrinth of incredible experience in which everyone wishes to be lost.
It's possible to diversify diving adventures through arranging a variety of land excursions. Visit islands with vanilla gardens or where unique black pearls are formed, walk in the places that inspired Paul Gaugin and be sure to visit a local market. The feeling of fragile harmony and fond recollections of all that was seen is the best that can be brought back from a trip to the world's end.