An idyllic paradise where sharks, whales, dolphins and manta rays are in abundance
Overview of diving in French Polynesia
One of the few remaining untouched paradises, diving in French Polynesia is simply breath taking, with huge aggregations of sharks, playful dolphins, elegant whales and graceful manta rays. Above the water French Polynesian islands are as tropical and idyllic as you can get. French Polynesia is spread out as far as Europe distance wise, with 118 islands and atolls making up the country. Internal flights from Tahiti are therefore required to get to the top atolls for diving.
Some of the best diving in French Polynesia is found at atolls such as Rangiroa and Fakarava. The later is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with huge populations of reef sharks and was featured in the BBC series Blue Planet.
Closer to Tahiti, the island of Moorea is home to lemon sharks and beautiful reefs, while some beaches have resident stingray populations which are attracted there by the locals which feed them. Tahiti itself has some impressive reef dives, along with several interesting wrecks. Throw in freediving with whales and tiger shark feeding dives certainly makes French Polynesia one of the world best diving destinations.
Best dive sites in French Polynesia
North and South Passes, Fakarava
World renowned in the diving community for the impressive ‘wall of sharks’ , huge populations of reef sharks reside at Fakarava’s two main dive sites. Hammerheads, lemon and silky sharks can also be seen along with the occasional whale shark or manta ray cruising by.
Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa Atoll
Again huge populations of reef sharks can be seen, along with hammerheads and manta rays. The icing on the cake is the regular dolphin encounters.
Opunohu canyons, Moorea Island
Stunning hard coral gardens are patrolled by lemon sharks, while turtles and reef sharks cruise around the reef.
The Catalina airplane wreck & cargo ship, Tahiti
A vintage WWII Catalina aircraft that was scuttled in 1964 and an old cargo ship sit right next to each other making it a two wreck dive.
Vallée Blanche, Tahiti
A shark feeding dive site where it is possible to see the impressive tiger shark, along with lemon, nurse, blacktip and gray sharks, barracuda, rays and much more!
Anau, Bora Bora
Between 5 and 10 manta rays perform a ‘dance’ in the center of the lagoon. Popular with snorkelers also.
Dive reports from French Polynesia
Dive site reports and useful information from our scuba diving and freediving trip to French Polynesia
Fakarava is a remote atoll with only a small local population. The lack of human influence has partly resulted in a huge population of resident reef sharks resulting in spectacular diving.
A short ferry journey from Tahiti, Moorea is a popular tourist destination. The northern coast has a variety of dive centers, with some nice reef dives located on the outer barrier reef. Lemon sharks can often be seen cruising through the reefs.
Hosting the capital of French Polynesia, Pape’ete, Tahiti is the main international gateway to French Polynesia. It can either be used as a stop over on to a remote atoll, or there is some great diving on the north west coast.
How to get to French Polynesia
French Polynesia has only one international airport which is located on the island of Tahiti. Tahiti International Airport (PPT) has international connections to several countries, including the USA, New Zealand, Australia and France.
Capital Airport International Airport Tahiti International Airport (PPT)
Best time to dive French Polynesia
French Polynesia is blessed with year round warm weather. The dryest months are during June to October, when air temperatures are cooler. This results in the best visibility due to less rainfall. Water temperatures can range between 26°C in August to 29°C in March. Divers can dive in just a rash vest, or a 3mm wetsuit is suitable for those who get cold easy.
Water Temperature 26° to 29°C
Visibility 10m to 30m+
Useful information for travelling to French Polynesia
Time Zone UTC – 10 hours
Currency French Pacific Frank (XPF)
Electricity 230 V
Plug Socket C, F
Language French. English is spoken in most hotels.
Calling Code +689
Our dive trips to French Polynesia
We have been lucky enough to visit French Polynesia twice, first in January 2018 and then again in April 2018. On our first trip we spent a week on the atoll of Fakarava. The south and north pass dive sites at Fakarava are a must for any diver and rank among the best dive sites we have been to. During a single dive you can expect to see hundreds of reef sharks. There is also the chance to see big pelagic species such as hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and manta rays.
We then spent a week on Tahiti. Unfortunately the weather was terrible, and we only got to dive on a couple of days. We did a couple of scuba dives on the local reefs, and also managed to spend a morning freediving some small wrecks.
Finally in April we managed to return to French Polyneisa through work. This time we headed over to the island of Moorea just off Tahiti. The diving here is also excellent, and we spotted several lemon sharks on our dives. We also found a beach with super friendly stingrays, which swim right up to you demanding food.
You can read more about the dive sites we visited in the posts below.