French Polynesia Dive Sites
With plenty of shark diving and nutrient-rich water, French Polynesia diving is growing in popularity. Liveaboard cruises visit the fantastic Rangiroa and Fakarava Atolls.
The French Polynesia dive sites can be a challenge with the strong currents. Despite this, the rewards are well worth the effort required.
The liveaboard trips will concentrate on the Rangiroa to Fakarava Atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago. The cruises run in one direction to ensure the best dive site coverage without repeating areas. The waters of French Polynesia offer unusual sightings in the busy nutrient-rich waters.
Fakarava is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with its famous North and South Passes, clear water and pelagic marine life are typical of the whole area.
During one of his expeditions, Jacques-Yves Cousteau declared Tikehau the “richest atoll on the face of the earth”.
For the liveaboard cruises scheduled in July to October, lucky guests will also experience the humpback whale migration.
Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.
French Polynesia Dive Sites - 3 LIVEABOARDS
Aqua Tiki III Liveaboard in French Polynesia
A charter only private sailing catamaran offering French Polynesia Diving for 10 guestsBook Now
French Polynesia Master in French Polynesia
A luxury French Polynesia liveaboard offering the best diving in the area.Book Now
Diving in French Polynesia takes place in the Fakarava, Apataki, Tikehau, Toau, Kauehi and Rangiroa Atolls.
Fakarava Atoll Highlights
Fakarava, which is a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 2006, is the second largest atoll in French Polynesia and a model for sustainable tourism and nature protection.
Diving takes place in the lagoon area, Garuae Passage, which can be a little challenging but very rewarding with the highest density of fish life here.
Due to strong currents, the Garuae Pass can only be dived at slack tide when the daily occurrence of the “wall of sharks” can be viewed. Hundreds of grey reef sharks congregate here and are often joined by hammerheads, black and white tip reef, silky, oceanic and even tiger sharks.
Other marine life include snappers, turtles, barracuda. Every year in June, the groupers come here to spawn.
Maiuru is a submerged plateau on the outer edge of the pass, which also has shark activity along with a cleaning station for manta rays and eagle rays. The coral garden at 18m drops off to the pelagic sighting area but there are plenty of smaller critters to enjoy viewing such as nudibranchs, crabs and moray eels among the sponges and corals. Schooling barracuda and snapper are also seen here.
Ohutu is another plateau this time at 12m, with a drop of down to 30m where Manta rays come for cleaning.
Restaurant Pier is another shallow site great for an afternoon dive with schools of snappers, black tip reef sharks and napoleon wrasse commonly seen here.
Tumakohua is the southern pass of Fakarava and is narrower, but can be dived on both incoming and outgoing tides so a more straightforward site for all diver levels.
Here large schools of grey reef sharks are common, in the deeper water black tips, manta rays and leopard rays are common.
For more experienced divers this pass can be dived on the outgoing drift, but visibility can drop as the lagoon enters the ocean.
Apataki Atoll Highlights
Tehere Pass has strong currents and reef hooks are required to stay in one place and enjoy the sight of hundreds of grey reef sharks hunting the fusiliers. Tuna, dolphins and swordfish are also seen here along with other pelagic life.
Tairapa Pass is another drift dive with reef sharks, napoleon wrasse, manta and eagle rays. Schools of jacks and groupers with triggerfish are also common here.
Pakaka Pass is a coral garden with silver and black tip reef sharks in the shallow staghorn and table coral area. Eagle rays are common sightings here too.
Teahuroa is an outer reef wall with schooling snappers, reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse, barracuda and big eyes. Manta rays are sometimes seen here too.
Tikehau Atoll Highlights
Diving sites in Tikehau offer a richness of life both underwater and while on land, and it is unique with its pink sand and bird life. During one of his expeditions, Jacques-Yves Cousteau declared Tikehau the richest atoll on the face of the earth.
Tuheiava Pass is a channel with shark encounters schooling snappers and a large number of dolphins. Turtles are also seen here with solitary barracuda. Tuheiava has excellent coral formations and a significant amount of marine life congregating around it. Napoleon wrasse and Manta Rays can often be seen in the southern area.
The Shark Hole is a vertical break in the reef starting at 20m and descending to 55m, at 50m there is an archway covered in anemones. Regarded as one of the best dives in the area with 40m visibility the site has a wall of grey sharks, turtles, snappers and soldierfish. Coral life is pristine and colourful with many clownfish and other reef fish.
Old Pearl Farm
The Old Pearl Farm is the only cleaning station for Manta Rays in this lagoon area and they are seen over the coral garden reef at 15m.
Toau Atoll Highlights
This is a 400m channel with reef and grey sharks as well as silver tips.
This is a wall dive with schooling snapper, reef sharks, big eyes and barracuda, occasional manta rays are seen here too.
This is only diveable in good conditions but rewarding with sharks and turtles.
Kauehi Atoll Highlights
This dive site is encrusted with hard corals, sponges and many reef fish including puffers, morays, wrasses and lionfish. Manta rays, eagle rays and an occasional hammerhead can be found with the grey reef sharks. An excellent place to spot leaf fish and nudibranchs.
This is a great place for manta rays as it has a cleaning station and plankton-rich water sometimes causing visibility to drop.
This is a wall to over 1500m where black, grey and white tip reef sharks school with snappers and other reef fish.
This is an easier dive site with channels where turtles, groupers, black tip reef sharks and barracuda can be found.
Rangiroa Atoll Highlights
Tiputa Reef is a site for all level of divers with a fantastic coral plateau at 15m that drops off into the deep blue waters. Here look for bottlenose dolphins, who often come to impress divers. Leopard rays and manta rays often come from this area to join the cleaning station above the hard coral reef. White tips and grey reef sharks can be seen on the plateau and often are joined by a turtle or two. Schools of barracuda and blue jackfish are also common at the site
Also known as Soldierfish Reef, this is home to a large population of soldierfish as the name would suggest. Located just after the exit of the pass there are marbled groupers and a multitude of anemones and clownfish. Sharks, rays and beautiful soft corals make this an enjoyable dive for all certification levels.
The Angle is not in the pass itself but close by with a drop off to the open ocean, and it can have strong currents. Schools of snappers, jacks and tuna can be found here with Napoleon wrasse and sharks. In the blue water look for dolphins, and barracuda and even an occasional sailfish. Grey reef sharks are seen close to the ocean floor.
The Blue is out from Tiputa reef which has barracuda, jackfish, tuna, silver tip and silky sharks, and there is even a chance to see bottlenose dolphins.
The Canyons is accessible on the incoming currents via a drift dive. The canyons are faults in the pass causing a way through, here whitetip reef sharks, napoleon wrasse, surgeonfish and schools of bigeyes. It is also a junction point where manta rays and hammerheads can be seen.
The Little Pass
The Little Pass is an ocean drift dive available on the incoming current of Avatoru. Several species of sharks are found here in nooks in the wall along with morays, scorpionfish and groupers. Manta rays occasionally pass by feeding in the currents.
Mahuta requires calm conditions to dive on the incoming current. Divers drift into an underwater valley covered in coral formations with surgeonfish, snappers and fusiliers. Manta or leopard rays can be spotted here in the currents, which lead divers to a dune area with coral blocks full of macro life and a few white and black tip reef sharks.
The lagoon of Motu Nuhi Nuhi is a small coral islet located along the axis of the Tiputa Pass.
On the west side is the Aquarium dive site, shallow and sheltered from currents so ideal for newer divers with a coral garden and plenty of marine life. Look for butterfly fish, anthias and leaf fish here.
The east side of the motu is at the end of the drift dive in the Tiputa Pass. There is a shallow area to view the lagoon and life inside with the sandy area and coral blocks.
Also known as The Fault, the site is a steep drop off with broken faults or overhangs covered in orange and purple soft corals. The site has very clear water and caves which are home to angelfish, surgeonfish and parrotfish. Often giant groupers are seen here as well as sharks and tuna.
Migrating humpback whales are often seen in the waters of French Polynesia from mid-July to late October on the way to Antarctica. The seas, which at this time of year, can be rough and reduced visibility, but seeing these gentle giants that come here to reproduce, calve and nurse their young, you’ll be left with a memory for life.
Visitin a pearl farm and the former Tetamanu village with its church built in 1874 with coral materials.
Marine Park and Conservation in French Polynesia
Many organisations are involved in marine conservation throughout French Polynesia. They monitor the populations of various sharks, turtles and the health of the coral reefs.
Tahiti and some of the surrounding islands were protected officially in 2002 by the creation of a marine park.