We spent 5 days here and did 8 dives, 2 a day. We were nervous about the level of accommodation we would be enduring after the Hilton but we were pleasantly surprised by our little flat with separate bedroom and kitchenette, a stone’s throw away from the bright blue sea.
Our view from the entry way of our flat in Rangiroa:
The waves are so loud but it’s great to fall asleep and wake up to that sound. The snorkeling isn’t great here in the lagoon but we’re not bothered- we are here to dive! We are on a 2 a day schedule while we’re here using a 20 dive pass with TopDive and will use the dives between us on 2 islands, here & Fakarava. I’ve never seen such nice facilities at a dive center – particularly such a remote one – they have free transport, hot fresh water showers, a sundeck, free nitrox, great staff and a beautiful spot near the Tiputa pass.
The first two days we did a reef dive in the morning and the pass drift dive in the afternoon. The pass couldn’t be dived in the morning as the current goes out to sea, but it changes about every 6 hours so in the afternoon it was OK. We have seen friendly turtles, groups of 30+ sharks (locally known as the “wall of sharks”), huge Napoleon wrasse and surprisingly healthy coral. The current is strong but as we’re usually going with it, it’s no problem.
This turtle swam to us! That is a first, our guide Moana and I pet it and played with it briefly:
But the BEST DIVE EVER was on the second afternoon – we did a drift dive through the pass but started in the blue looking for dophins, and we found them! A pod of about 7 approached us after 2 minutes in the water. They swim around us an let many in the group pet them- I got close but not close enough. They got within a meter of us and seemed very curious- they copied some of the movement including turning in a circle.
They swam with us for about 8-10 minutes before swimming away. Then we were off for another viewing of the “wall of sharks” which is right on the corner heading into the pass. After passing most of the way through the pass in a very swift current, we descended like aircraft landing on a runway to get into a canyon at about 26m. This was soooooo much fun! The current flew us along for about 8 minutes until we reached the end where we started an extra long safety stop. It was fun to have the current push us along, combined with the eddies and side to side current so it was really an adventure!
Divers petting the dolphins- unfortunetely one of them is not me…yet:
Unfortunately neither of us actually got to touch the dolphins but we’re not too bothered – for some it’s not something to recommend as they are wild animals. We wanted to be sure that if we did, it was because we had been invited to do so. Of the 8 dives we did here, on 4 we saw dolphins and 3 they stayed and played with us for up to 10 minutes! It is so amazing to interact with these intelligent animals- you can tell they are interested in us and swim fast around us, sometimes surfacing briefly, then returning to us! During one dive, there was a dolphin who was so excited it swam super fast with its mouth open clicking and singing- we weren’t sure what that meant but were later told he was just excited and playful!
Me and 2 dolphins – at the moment they appear to be swimming away but they did come back!
7 out of 8 dives we did at Tiputa Pass which was right next to the dive shop. But this morning we did the 15 minutes boat trip to the only other pass in Rangiroa – Avatoru pass. We were hoping to have good current but it was slack tide so we just enjoyed the reef, looking for big fish and dolphins of course! We also saw a large silvertip shark which came up pretty close to us. The final dive in Tiputa we also saw a manta ray, after which two dolphins flew past us without stopping – maybe just to say goodbye. Someone in the other group saw a hammerhead shark – we are still waiting for our hammerhead encounter but maybe in Fakarava or the Galapagos we will be more lucky.
Us with Moana, one of the dive guides who is also the local dolphin expert. We enjoyed diving with her and learning about the 7 named dolphins of the area, especially “TouchMe”, a dolphin that likes to be petted (especially by blondes!), hence the name.