While Tahiti and Moorea are everyone’s dream of the South Pacific, the diving is a notch below many other islands in French Polynesia. The best place to go for diving is the island of Rangiroa. Approximately an hour flight from Tahiti. Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the South Pacific and one of the largest in the world. It’s lagoon is gigantic (40 miles long and 20 miles wide, a depth up to 150ft), communicating with the pacific ocean by the Avatoru and Tiputa channels. Through these flows a phenomenal quantity of water from the ocean into the lagoon and vice versa; following the tides are hordes of fish, jacks, tuna, barracuda, manta rays and eagle rays, turtles, dolphins, etc. A short distance out into the lagoon, the reef drops to a depth of 1200m.
During six hours, the incoming current carries the clear water of the ocean into the lagoon. Ideal for a drift dive, one can see schools of sharks, squadrons of eagle rays, or maybe a great hammerhead cruising with the schools of fish. Six hours later, the lagoon empties itself through the passes to the ocean. For a better visibility, one may dive on the outside reef next to the pass. You will find small and big fauna: schools of jacks, barracudas, manta rays, as well as several species of sharks, and numerous pelagic fish. Although Rangiroa always has divable sites in any weather, the average conditions are not for the inexperienced. The ocean normally has a moderate swell near the passes with a 5 knot current entering in rhythm with the rise and fall of the tide.
Best Diving Destinations in Rangiroa
This area has at least 5 dive spots: Napoleon, Sharks & Manta point, Tuna point, small caves, small channels.
Moray eels point, Mahuta point: convergence of two submarine channels where considerable sea life aggregates: barracuda, jack, surgeons, grouper, etc. Tiputa Pass, 3 different areas: 1) The wall, 2) Barracudas point, 3) Sharks point. The Nuhi Nuhi motu or the Aquarium: snappers, barracudas, rays, nurse sharks, multicolored corals.
When to Visit Rangiroa
Rangiroa is diveable year-round, with water temperatures of 79¬83°F. There are really only three seasons of interest to the global diver: the manta ray season, from early September to mid-October; the hammerhead shark season, January – February; and the rest of the year, during which an assortment of fish may be seen, with the general exception of the two just mentioned. If you are particular about land weather conditions, you should know that the rainy season is November – December, and the windy season is July – August.