Tahiti, a Scuba Dive Paradise
Known as the 'Big Fish Capital of the South Pacific,' The Islands of Tahiti have something for every diver - turquoise lagoons, sapphire seas, white sand beaches, vibrant marine life, incredible visibility and a rich culture. The 118 islands & atolls that make up The Islands of Tahiti are comprised of 5 distinctly different archipelagos which include: The Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, the Marquesas Islands, The Australs and the Gambier Islands. These islands epitomize the South Seas dream and to scuba dive the Tahitian Islands is to experience an underwater Shangri-la. From the mountainous islands of Moorea & Bora Bora to the low-lying coral atolls of Rangiroa and Fakarava, you'll quickly understand why Tahiti is the ultimate dive destination!
The pristine waters of Tahiti are home to more than 1,000 species of fish. Because of the exceptional biodiversity, scientists consider the Polynesian sea zone to be the “richest aquarium on earth”. In 2000, the entire region was classified as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a wildlife sanctuary where, among other things, drift fishing is prohibited, earning French Polynesia top honors from the WWF (World Wildlife Fund).
Guide to Scuba Diving in Tahiti
The atoll of Fakarava tops our list of places to dive. The biodiversity of Fakarava is so pure that UNESCO named it a Biosphere Reserve. There are two passes in Fakarava - the massive Garuae Pass in the north is more than 1/2 mile wide, while the Tumakohua pass in the south measures only 200 yards. Both passes serve as a meeting place for all sorts of marine life, including gray sharks, leopard rays, and barracudas. Dive in June or July and you're likely to see huge schools of groupers gathering in the pass to reproduce.
Just a 55-minute flight from Tahiti, Rangiroa is world renowned for her fast paced drift dives and abundance of sea life. This is the other “must dive” location of the Tuamotus. Here you’ll find two passes and both are just a short boat ride away from the resorts. Rubber Zodiacs will drop you in the ocean at the foot of the pass where the current sweeps you into the lagoon for a technicolor display of fish. You’ll find caves crammed full of red snapper, walls of barracuda and dozens of Napoleon wrasse. But the big stars of Rangiroa are the dolphins! In Rangiroa, the dolphins actually like to play with the divers. You’ll also dive with turtles, manta rays, eagle rays and of course sharks! Schedule your trip between November and February for the opportunity to dive with Hammerheads. September is the perfect time to observe manta rays as they migrate from within the lagoon to their final destination in Hawaii.
It was in the lagoon of Tikehau that Jacques Cousteau said he had encountered more fish than in any other part of the South Pacific. Here you’ll find all types of large and small fish including jack fish, sea-pike, barracudas, Napoleon wrasse as well as gray sharks and manta rays. July-December is the best time to encounter mantas.
Within the Austral archipelago, you’ll find the island of Rurutu. Rurutu is famous for the whales who migrate here each year from the Antarctic. Visit July-October and you’l have the incredible opportunity to free dive with these marvelous creatures. The whales come to the warm waters of Rurutu to reproduce, calve, and nurse.
Bora Bora is home to the large manta ray. To swim within arms reach of these majestic beauties is reason alone to visit this island. Yet mantas aren't the only sea life in Bora Bora. Here, you'll also see gray sharks, lemon sharks, moray eels, turtles and barracuda. There is virtually no current in Bora Bora, so scuba divers of all levels will have an easy time diving here.
Most dive sites in Moorea are only a 10-minute boat ride away from the dive centers. In Moorea, you’ll have an opportunity to dive with black tip, white tip, gray and lemon sharks. You're also likely to see barracuda, jack fish, grouper, turtles and moray eels. If you visit July-October you're bound to see humpback whales as they come up from Antartica to mate and give birth.
Huahine is still fairly unknown as a dive destination. A barrier reef surrounds the island and there are several passes allowing great diving for all levels. Here you'll encounter white tip, black tip, eagle rays, sea-pike, turtles as wall as a variety of coral.
RAIATEA & TAHAA
Raiatea & Tahaa have everything from drift dives through the many passes (there are 11) to drop offs, pinnacles, caves and coral canyons. Here you'll find beautiful black, yellow & purple coral walls. Raiatea even has a wreck dive -- it's the three-masted ship called The Nordby and sunk in 1900. In terms of fish, you'll find silver and black tip sharks, Napoleon wrasse, moray eels, sea-pike, trivially, tuna, leopard rays, grouper, barracuda and dolphins. In addition, there is a large assortment of nudibranchs. July-October is the best time to see Humpback Whales. July-September is ideal for manta rays.
The atoll of Tetiaroa is a sanctuary of biodiversity in the South Pacific. While diving, you’ll encounter many colorful fish including triggerfish, parrotfish and surgeonfish. You’ll also see big fish that frequent the external slope of the reef including white tip sharks, grey sharks, spotted eagle rays, turtles and dogtooth tuna.