French Polynesia stole our hearts in 1994 when we arrived for our first 7 months stay, working and scuba diving in Society Islands. I have returned countless times to revisit this heart throb both above and below the water. If “bali hai” is what you seek, these islands won’t disappoint. French Polynesia consists of five archipelagos over 2000 square miles including the Society Islands which include the capital of Papeete, Tahiti, The Tuamotus, The Gambiers, The Australs, and the Marquesas. Here we describe for you the Society Islands. If you wish to read more about the Tuamotus, click here.
Society Island Facts
If you want cool things to do in French Polynesia’s Society Islands, check out the next section. If you are looking for facts and figures, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_Islands
The adventure life comes in many styles in the Society Islands. Some of our favorite things to do include:
- Dive Dive Dive, Scuba diving in the Society Islands is our favorite thing to do.
- Rent a 4×4 and drive UP to Hotel Relais de la Maroto on the island of Tahiti. Be sure you know how to change a tire because you WILL get a flat, plan for twice the time than expected and know how to drive over rocks and through streams. The hotel was built to house the engineers who built Tahiti’s hydroelectric system. It’s laid back, expensive and dusty but there is wonderful hiking up top. Stay or don’t stay at the hotel. I think the thrill is in the 16km drive up the mountain!
- Hop on Le Truck, the local island transportation on a Friday night in Papeete. Then use your little or non existent French to strike up a conversation with the locals. Hours of entertainment here! Note that prices are double after dark.
- New shark dive. Shark diving pioneer, Bernardo, has recently helped set up a new shark dive on the island of Tahiti. It’s sure to get your adrenaline flowing!
- Hike up Mt. Mouaputa in Cook’s bay on Moorea. DO NOT attempt to climb to the “hole” unless you are an experienced climber with gear. Once we had to call out the French Military Super Puma and do a daring rescue of a fallen climber. THAT cost some bucks! Or you could just drive up to the overlook at the Belevedere for a sunset happy hour!
- Visit with biologist Dr. Michael Poole at the biological research station on Moorea and see what projects he is working on. Perhaps help him out with his research!
- Bike around Bora Bora. on a Sunday morning at Huihine! Polynesian children LOVE to jump off the pier. I dare you….jump with them and make some new friends!
- Try karaoke at the Raiatea disco on a Friday night!
- If you can figure out a way to climb the famed volcano, Otemanu on Bora Bora, let us know!
Society Island Seasonality
Seasons in the Society Islands follow fairly predictable patterns. November-February is rainy, warm and humid and typhoon season. Though not many typhoons hit the area, this is the highest probability time. Runoff from the mountains especially on Tahiti and Moorea can cause muddy waters at some dive sites. March – May is pleasant with generally calm seas and fairly good visibility. Water temperatures which were up in the mid 80′s in January are beginning to cool. June -August brings the coolest water temperatures meaning upper 70′s to around 80 but the best visibility. It also brings the wind and choppier sea conditions. September and October are my favorite months to dive. Visibility is still good, temperatures are just beginning to rise and the humpback whales and manta rays are in season. We have never been lucky enough to see the whales while diving but often you can hear their magnificent calls and see them breeching off the island of Moorea.
Favorite Dive Sites
- Tahiti- We rarely dived in Tahiti but always enjoyed a short hop over to the small plane wreck near the airport. Visibility generally sucks but you can sit in the cockpit and take a photo. More of just a photo op than a true dive! I have yet to check out Bernardo’s new shark dive but he raves about it!! You can call him at the Tahiti Tourism Office.
- Moorea- The entire leeward side of Moorea has beautiful diving. Don’t expect soft corals but smaller hard corals with lots of reef life. Black tip sharks patrol the coast and you will see them passing on every dive. The Tiki site outside of the Club Med became a favorite shark dive for many dive operators on the island. A few years ago, regular sightings of tiger and lemon sharks became the draw. The Roses is a spectacular site with huge “rose” shaped corals at 150ft.
- Raiatea- Pass diving rarely disappoints and the dive at Teavapiti pass always holds surprises including grey reef sharks, snake eels and large javanese morays (max 2 per hole please!). If you are lucky and dive there in April you can see the hatching of the juvenile red toothed trigger fish which are yellow and cover the reef!
- Bora Bora- By far my favorite dive is White Valley around the corner from the airport. This deeper site has a literal sand valley (thus the name) winding it’s way through the reef. White tip reef sharks rest on the bottom and hoards of ocean triggerfish ply these waters. Grey reef sharks swim up to meet your boat as you arrive!
- Huihine- Just outside of the pass at the town pier you can dive either side on the sloping reef. It’s an easy dive and not without its surprises!
Sharkman and Mantagirl Give French Polynesia Diving 2 Fins UP
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