The bodies of Tahitians are decorated with tattoos of manta rays, sharks, whales and sea turtles, symbols of an ancestral attachment to the ocean. Divers come from all over the world for the privilege of observing these sacred creatures, reminders that The Islands of Tahiti are protected by the gods. While the clear crystal waters and magnificent scenery of the islands make it a paradise on earth, teeming with thousands of different species of marine life, from sharks and dolphins to parrotfish and clownfish. And from July to November, humpback whales also come to visit. The door to paradise is open wide.
WHERE AND WHEN?
There are dive centers of an international standard in Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Taha’a, Huahine, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Manihi, Fakarava, Tikehau, Nuku Hiva, Rurutu.
You can dive all year round in The Islands of Tahiti.
Visibility is about 39 meters. The ocean temperature is 26°C in winter and 29°C in summer. The temperature drops 50% between the surface and a depth of 50 meters. A light wetsuit of 3 mm or even a lycra is all that’s needed at any time of year.
Divers can observe an incredibly rich variety of species, from little butterflyfish and beautiful coral gardens to napoleon fish, barracudas, manta rays, reef sharks, moray eels, eagle rays, triggerfish, tuna, groupers, hammerhead sharks, whitetip sharks, to name but a few. The sharks are not aggressive in Polynesia, although it’s always safer to not to approach them too closely.
Divers have a variety of different zones to explore:
The lagoon: the crystal clear waters in these natural pools are all the possible shades of blue and green. Not very deep, the lagoons still attract divers of all levels because the variety of the sea life is so rich.
The reef: breathtakingly beautiful, with multitudes of fish and corals of all colors as well as many impressive predators to observe. The reef is a wondrous and wonderfully unique environment.
The pass: a crossroads between the lagoon and the ocean that is teeming with life, including great numbers of the larger species: manta rays, sea turtles and sharks. The strong currents produced by the changing tides restrict diving in the passes to certain times of the day. When the current is incoming, a drift dive is a moment of pure magic.
Normal diving conditions in Polynesia are warm waters, not very deep and with excellent visibility. The currents aren’t strong, except in the passes. Excursions are in the company of an experienced guide who is also an instructor. In the event of an accident, medical evacuations by helicopter and airplane are available day and night. Tahiti’s sea search and rescue service is equipped with modern recompression chambers and a team of doctors qualified in hyperbaric medicine.
Most dives are to depths of between 9 and 25 meters. Dives to greater depths, between 30 and 42 meters, are open to more experienced divers. Some dive centers organize explorations and drift dives exclusively for experienced divers.
The dive centers can hire out all the necessary equipment. Usually, bottles and dive belts are included in the price of the excursion. Buoyancy compressors, regulators and dive computers are available for hire, and some centers include the whole package (except the dive computers) in the excursion fee. Thanks to the perfect diving conditions, even beginners are sure to have a breathtaking experience. Many of the centers provide instruction courses for all levels for the following certificates: CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques), FFESSM (Fédération française d’études et de Sports Sous-Marins) and PADI (Association Professionnelle des Instructeurs de Plongée). NAUI et SSI are also recognized certificates in Polynesia.
Most travel insurance policies do not include cover for underwater diving. The DAN (Diver’s Alert Network) or your travel agent will be able to advise you on where to obtain the appropriate cover.