The Tuamotu archipelago in French Polynesia consists of approximately 80 low lying coral atolls with the most amazing blue lagoons you’ve EVER seen. They lie to the northeast of the main island of Tahiti and can be easily reached by a one hour flight on Air Tahiti. You might think that these islands have dirt strip runways but think again. During WW2 the allies came into this region and build fantastic runways! The main islands consist of Rangiroa, with a lagoon 48 miles across!, Fakarava, Tikahau, and Manihi. All of the islands have their own brand of incredible diving and adventure.
If you want cool things to do in the Tuamotus, check out the next section. If you are looking for facts and figures, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuamotu_Islands
The adventure life comes in many styles in the Tuamotu Islands. Some of our favorite things to do include:
- Dive Dive Dive. Our favorite thing to do in the Tuamotu Islands is scuba dive.
- Snorkel a Hoa…What? Ok, this is water that flows at high tide across the atolls creating 1-2′ deep river with tons of macro life. You walk up the edge of the hoa and snorkel down with the flow. It is HOURS of fun. Try this at the Pearl Beach Resort on Tikahau. Seriously, we HAVE spent hours doing this. Makes for a great surface interval.
- Wander the aisles of the local “grocery store” on Fakarava and try to guess what the mystery meat in the freezer is. I dare you to try to buy a bottle of beer……
- If you are there to dive, take a couple of days and dive and stay at the pass at the south end of Fakarava island (Tumakohua Pass)….Can you say BIG tiger shark fly by????
- Snorkel under the dock at Te Ava Nui dive shop on Fakarava and see how many juvenile batfish you can find!
- Do a drift snorkel at Avatura pass on Rangiroa!
- DO NOT MISS watching the dolphins leap at sunset in Tuputa pass on Rangiroa. It’s the stuff of movies and a great place for happy hour!
- Take a day trip to Tuop island, an outpost for Fakarava fisherman. Yea, like Faka-rava isn’t an outpost already!
- Enjoy a sunset cocktail in the infinity pool at the Kia Ora Hotel in Rangiroa! That’s luxury!
- Make a successful phone call from the payphone on the main road in Fakarava
While the seasons are similar to the Society Islands, you can actually dive in the Tua-motus year around without getting run off from the mountains like in most of the Society Islands during the rainy season. December and January can bring windier, rainier and therefore choppier conditions, BUT this is the time of the arrival of the BIG hammerheads in Rangiroa. Be prepared to dive 150-165ft to find them cruising the bottom and feeding on YES seven foot grey sharks! Because these are atolls and not tall volcanic islands, runoff from seasonal rainfall does not effect the water clarity.
Favorite Dive Islands and Sites:
- Tikahau- There are only a handful of dive sites on the island so I would stay maybe three nights. All sites are just outside the pass about a 30 minute ride across the la-goon from the Pearl Beach Resort. These sites are not beautiful but extremely fish rich. If you are taking a tour of the Tuamotus and have an extra couple of days…give it a go. And don’t forget to snorkel the hoa!!
- Rangiroa- “Rangi” is by far the most well known of the Tuamotus and the most famous dive of all is Tuputa Pass. You drop into the blue and glide through the pass often through hundreds of sharks. Do not expect beautiful reef in the pass, it is washed by up to 6 knot currents. Avaturo pass is a great shallow pass to dive, lots of fish. Also be sure to do a silver tip shark dive generally done outside of Tuputa pass. One of our fa-vorite dives is to go outside the pass into the blue, hang chum over the boat and sit at about 50 feet and see what swims in….AND IT DOES!
- Manihi- Again, there is not a full week’s worth of dive sites here but one of my favorite things to see just outside the pass is the HUGE schools of convict tang. The manta dive is a fun drift with the possibility of mantas at the end though it ends in the lagoon with lower vis water. Manihi is a quiet island so dive and enjoy the hotel’s pool and bar!
- Fakarava- This extremely quiet island has grown in reputation with divers over the past five years or so. The main northern pass, Garuae, is a phenomenal dive as is the south pass (Tumakahua) though it is a couple hour boat ride (best to overnight there). Also, we LOVE to dive on an outgoing tide just outside of the murky lagoon water in the north pass. Big fish patrol on the edge of the murk and you stay in the clear water. If you get the opportunity and the seas are calm, definitely get over to the island of Tuop. Great diving there!
- Makemo- Now boasts 12 dive sites. We’ve never been, should we go?
- Other Islands- Most of the other islands in the Tuamotus currently do not have dive facilities but if anyone wants to charter a boat with us and explore….we’re totally up for it!
Sharkman and Mantagirl Give the Tuamotus Diving 2 Fins UP
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