French Polynesia: Diving Rangiroa

We flew from Melbourne via Auckland (New Zealand) to Tahiti. As we had a 6 hour layover and some time difference, we arrived at our hostel only at midnight.

Warm welcome at Tahiti airport

The next morning, we discovered Papeete, the capital of Tahiti island, and of French Polynesia.

Papeete is a very small city without any charm, and not much to do. For us, we opted to spend a day here, as we heard from a former colleague about the option to arrange last minute deals to visit Bora Bora from here. And indeed, we booked a deal for 5 days on an overwater bungalow on a private island (motu) off Bora Bora. How awesome is that!

Our pockets a lot lighter, we spent the afternoon walking around and planning more of our worldtrip.

Early that next day, we took off for Rangiroa already.

French Polynesia has 118 islands, of which only 67 inhabited. So why go to Rangiroa? Well, to dive with the big stuff obviously! It’s the best for large pelagics (sharks, dolphins, barracudas etc).

One of the largest coral atolls in the world

As you can see from the picture above, Rangiroa is a large oval atoll with a big lagoon in the middle. It’s so large, the whole of Tahiti would fit easily inside it!

Once on the island, you cannot even see the other side, and the lagoon appears to be ocean. Also, there’s only a small part that’s inhabited. You can’t go to other parts of the atoll unless you’re on a tour, as there are channels cutting through the atoll.

Our first afternoon was spent canoeing on the high waves of the lagoon. A pretty good workout!

The next day was our first diving day (at Y AKA plongee). We found out that every time you drift dive the same dive site, called Tiputa Pass. This is the largest channel between the ocean, and the inside lagoon. Because of the current bringing in (or out, depending on the time of day) so many nutrients, it’s a popular spot with fish and other underwater animals. And how true this was…

That day, we petted and played with dolphins, saw schools of black tip reef sharks, 2 manta rays, a hammerhead, barracudas, and a 2 metre tuna!

Petting dolphins
Such a thrill

We’d never even seen dolphins during a dive before, let alone being able to touch them and play with them! So this was an unforgettable experience.

OMG a hammerhead!!

We’d been waiting to see a hammerhead for a long time. And now it just cruised by unexpectedly!

2 Manta rays

And if you thought things couldn’t get any better, there’s 2 manta rays flapping away!

School of barracudas
One of the best dives so far!

The next three days consisted of getting up early, diving twice, and chilling at the dive centre (which had beach, chairs and water access). Life’s good:)

Tiny weird jelly creatures
School of black tip reef sharks we saw each dive
Maori wrasse following a blue skipjack
Inside Tiputa Pass, there’s above canyon where you can take shelter from the current
We ate one of his unicorn relatives at the bbq… So tasty:P
Christmas trees in every colour you can imagine. Never seen so many kinds!
One of the 60 dolphins living at Tiputa Pass. We saw them every dive
Every day they put on a show just for us!
Getting back after a dive

But not only during our dives did we see awesome sea life. In the shallow channel behind our guest house, we had baby sharks visiting us every afternoon. They were more scared of us (and of the local dog chasing them) than the other way around!

Baby moray eel pretending to be threatening

After our final morning dive in Rangi, we couldn’t dive anymore as this is forbidden less than 18 hr prior to your flight. So we took bikes and cycled through our part of the atoll.

Gorgeous views at Avatoru. The white speck on the right is Jenk snorkling the strong currents
Yes, this is really how blue it is! (And how many fish there are)

The next morning, we had our final canoe ride, and a final snorkle, and headed back to the airport. 6 days in Rangiroa flew by!

Up next: Bora Bora!


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