French Polynesia is blessed with turquoise lagoons, crystal-clear waters, and pristine coral reefs that provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for divers. There’s an abundance of marine life creating a kaleidoscope of colours under the surface.
Rangiroa: Dive into one of the world’s most immense natural aquariums in the largest atoll in French Polynesia and the second largest in the world – it even has its own horizon within the lagoon. The extraordinary fact about Rangiroa is that each dive changes with the currents, in addition to the seasons and lunar cycles. In the morning, be sure to look down while diving the outer reef for hammerheads, and in the afternoons, look up! It’s one of the best places to observe and play with dolphins throughout all French Polynesia.
Fakarava: The remote island of Fakarava is home to rare endemic and protected wildlife species on land and underwater. The breathtaking and untouched atoll is a natural reserve for many rare species of birds, plants and crustaceans and has been officially classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve due to its rich biodiversity. Divers will have unforgettable experiences; diving with one of the largest aggregations of grey reef sharks in the world, as well as myriad other species including mantas, Napoleon wrasse and large schools of snapper, cardinal fish, and barracuda.
Tikehau: The most peaceful of French Polynesia’s islands is in the northern region of the Tuamotus and is a favourite among visitors for its beauty and the famous pink sand. Get ready to meet millions of tropical fish as it is one of the most fish-rich atolls in the world. Tikehau is a terrific spot to dive no matter the level of experience. Divers will feel like they’re swimming in an aquarium surrounded by a wide variety of marine life that will leave even the most advanced diver speechless.
Moorea: Tahiti Island’s close neighbour, located just 20 minutes by ferry, offers spectacular dives on the outside reef. Moorea is shaped like a heart with two beautiful bays, Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay, both of which offer the perfect location to dive with the scenic backdrop of a lush green volcanic mountain landscape. With a vibrant array of marine life, a unique experience here is the opportunity to swim with the very social lemon shark.
Rurutu: Unlike most islands in French Polynesia, Rurutu is one of the few islands without a lagoon, also known as atolls. This means it has access to the big open ocean filled with bigger marine creatures. Rurutu is one of the best places where you can swim with whales and indeed a life-ina-lifetime experience.
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This article was originally published in Scuba Diver ANZ #59.