French Polynesia is comprised of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls spanning more than 2000 kilometres in the South Pacific Ocean. There are five island groups sporting a diverse diving experience namely: Austral Islands, Bass Islands, Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands, Society Islands (including Tahiti and Bora Bora), Tuamotu Archipelago (including Rangiroa), and Tikehau.
All the islands boast of a sheer diving pleasure for all levels of divers. One particular note is that most dive sites are within short boat rides from the shore and are just along or outside the barrier reefs.
For the beginner divers looking for a more relaxed dive or snorkelling, the best dive sites are at Rangiroa, Tikehau, Manihi, and Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago, where the huge lagoons sport various kinds of fishes and sharks. These lagoons are mostly shallow which is perfect for tuning up your diving techniques.
The most popular of the leeward islands is Bora Bora, well known for its rich marine life such as manta rays, eagle rays, schools of barracuda, lemon shark, whitetips, blacktips and grey reef sharks. There are diverse dives such as swim-through, wall diving, and open water. Due to the presence of strong currents, these dive sites are suited for advanced divers.
If you want to fly with the Mantas, visit Manihi which is also popular for its black pearls. Marine life includes Manta Rays and lots of marbled grouper. Advanced divers could also enjoy drift dives in these areas.
Wreck diving is also available in Raiatea sporting deep lagoon teeming with various marine life that also includes octopus.
Another beginner friendly island is in Tahiti sporting clear and shallow waters. Advanced divers could also enjoy steep oceanic drop-offs to explore sunken vessels, walls of bright corals, and see schools of smaller species of fishes.
French Polynesia has a tropical climate sporting year round diving season.
The best time to visit the islands is in April to November.
The water temperature hovers around 26°C to 29°C.
Natural hazards include occasional cyclones or typhoons.
The main airport in French Polynesia is Faa'a International Airport built on Tahiti's lagoon about 5 km west of Papeete. Its flag carrier is Air Tahiti Nui which flies directly to Tokyo, Los Angeles and Auckland. It is also in cooperation with several international airlines such as Air France, Japan Airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas.
There are also cruise ships but they have irregular schedule so air travel is the most convenient in French Polynesia.
There are also ferries traversing the islands but for convenience, just take the inter-island flights served by Air Tahiti Nui and contact your travel agents.
The overall transportation system in French Polynesia is exceptional.
Use the following links for more information about;
- Decompression Chambers in French Polynesia
- Foreign Travel Advice for French Polynesia (UK Government)
- More about the French Polynesia (Wikipedia)
Bora Bora sounds exotic, and it is. It's also home to some spectacular dive sites populated with some of the ocean's top predators. Blacktip Reef, Lemon, Whitetip and Hammerhead sharks are a few of the 16 species that are regularly spotted in...Go>
Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Tuamotus, and is also one of the biggest in the world. This magical island is made up of roughly 415 motus, islets and sandbars – with over 100 narrow passageways bisecting through. Along with stunning...Go>
Tahiti is the largest of the more than 100 islands spread over five archipelagos in the South Pacific, that make up French Polynesia. The landscape of the island is almost as spectacular above sea level, as the underwater paradise that lies below...Go>