Trip Report - Rangiroa & Fakarava March 2015

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Kevster

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Perth, Australia
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Trip Report – Rangiroa & Fakarava – March 2015

2 Week vacation all organised by Travel Agent Etahititravel.

Flights – Tokyo – Papeete – Average flight. Poor food & limited entertainment on offer.
Papeete – Rangoria – Short 1 hr flight. No problems with luggage. My carry on is approx 11 Kgs.


Weather – Mixed but mostly fine, sunny, light winds. Calm seas.

Rangiroa
Accom- 6 nights Half board at Hotel Maitai. Nice hotel with pool, approx 5 mins drive to dive shop. Food was good. Would stay here again if I return visit.
Room was nice, clean and modern , air con ,TV, fan. No wifi. Accom was very reasonable priced.

By the pool
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Dive – 4 days diving with Top dive, 2 dives per day. Free car pick up from hotel in mornings and return after dives. Free nitrox. 1 dive was approx 80 euros. Only dived 2 different dive sites. 1 site was approx 5 mins travel time the other was approx 20 mins travel time.
Top dive were ok. Average 8-10 divers on boat. Multiple guides over 4 days. 1 guide was very safety conscious always checking on me , asking me to stay close and checking air. Other guides were more relaxed. Various reports on this board do not recommend Top Dive but I did not have any problems and would happily dive with them in the future. As I was a rescue diver, we did one deep dive to 48 m.
The diving was very good. No need for wetsuit, water temp 28-29 C & excellent visibility. Average currents.
Highlights – Dolphins, 1 manta , 1 Great hammerhead , a few silvertips, marlin.

4-5 days diving was about right , a longer stay may get slightly repetitive.

Overall I was very happy with my visit to Rangiroa. I would definitely return , in Jan , peak season for Great Hammerheads or mid Sept , peak season for fish.

Fakarava
Quick 45 min flight to Fakarava. Boat transfer to South Fakarava, approx 1.5 hrs.

Accom – 3 nights at Pension Raimiti. This was truly an amazing place to stay. Tropical paradise. The resort was very basic, no electricity in the beach bungalows but the setting is amazing. The food, atmosphere and general setting made this one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. Do not expect luxury & make sure you get a “pacific side: bungalow for the ocean breeze. There is also a resident turtle that hangs around the lagoon side and several black tips hunting in the shallows in the mornings and evenings. Overall this was a great place.

Pacific side Beach Bungaow
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Diving
2 days diving South Pass with Top Dive. The downside of staying at Ramiti is it takes approx 40 mins transfer to get to Top Dive Shop. The Top Dive shop is located by the village close to the South Pass. If you stay in the village , the dive shop and dive site are next to each other.

The dive shop in the South Pass is very very basic. Most of the guides come down to the south for a week then move back to the North.

The diving was amazing. 4 dives at the South Pass. I have never seen so many sharks. Viss changed depending on whether tide was in-coming/out going. Hundreds and hundreds of reef sharks. Truly one of the best dives I have ever done.

A dozen black tips in the shallows
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Transfer to North Fakarava.
Stayed at Pearl Havaiki resort. The resort was nice with a fantastic beach. 5-6 large nurse sharks were resident at the pier.
The food at the resort was really good.
Room had fan but no air con.

Diving
1 day diving North Pass with top dive. Unfortunately we did not dive the pass as the current was outgoing. We dived locations either side of the pass. No real current. Fantastic reef , but not many sharks. Note this was due to the 2 sites we dived. I am sure the North pass is similar to the south pass , but larger. We did not dive the pass where the sharks are.
Main highlight a 2.5-3 meter Tiger shark. We were all diving at approx 20 m on the slope , when I looked up there was a tiger cruising by in the shallows.


Conclusion

Overall it was an amazing trip. Tiger shark, great hammerhead and hundreds of reef sharks.
This was some of the best diving I have ever done. The sharkest place I have ever visited , including Galapagos, Cocos, Bahamas. I will definitely return. The South pass at Fakarava is unbelievable.

French Polynesia was not as expensive as I thought it would be. Hotel accom was reasonable priced. Some of the meals were a bit expensive, but based on quality and remote location it was acceptable.

Photography
I found there was no need for strobes as most of the sharks were distant. Fisheye was too wide. Hard to get good shots of sharks (tiger & hammerhead as they were distant, approx 10 m away)

Sunset Lagoon side @ Raimiti
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qwimjim

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Canada
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Thanks, so you would still recommend Rangiroa? You raved about Fakarava so I was wondering if you felt that perhaps in retrospect Fakarava should deserve more time than Rangiroa?

It sounds like a world class location for sharks but what about the rest, it doesn't sound like you saw many manta? For someone who also wants lots of fish, big schools of fish, plentiful healthy colorful coral, etc.. does it also get top marks in those respects as well? Saying it was sharkier than Cocos and Galapogos is almost hard to believe!

Thanks for the heads up on when to visit, I found it hard to find this information online. I imagine for the giant hammerheads you have to be rescue certified to do the 50m dives and AOW won't cut it? Is it on the deep dive that you saw the great hammerhead?

And last question I promise! How does the diving compare to Palau which seems like similar type/style diving? Another option we're looking at is a combo Nusa Lembongan/Komodo trip. We would prefer to do land based diving. Having trouble deciding! We're not so much interested in macro/critters/muck.. would like to see huge amounts of fish and colourful reefs and some big stuff and just be wow'd as much as possible :)
 

Kevster

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Perth, Australia
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Think i saw your post on wet pixel.

Fakarava was better than Rangiroa 60/40 split in terms of days would be about right.I only saw 1 manta and it was a brief swim by. There were a few large groups of fish. however i was told in Rangoria Aug/Sept/Oct s the time when fish appear in big groups. In March dive guide said the reef felt empty. It was not.

My trip to Cocos was very average, not many hammerheads , water was too warm. Galapagos was good, lots of hammerheads at wolf. But the number of sharks at fakarava is just amazing.

The giant hammerhead i saw was on the site we were not expecting to see hammerheads!!! It was shallow around 20-25 m at the end of the dive...
The deep dive to 50 m we did not see any Giant HH. The deep dive would be the perfect place to dive a re-breather.

Palau is good and offers more variety i.e Caverns, wrecks,more macro.
 

qwimjim

Contributor
Messages
223
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Location
Canada
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50 - 99
Think i saw your post on wet pixel.

Fakarava was better than Rangiroa 60/40 split in terms of days would be about right.I only saw 1 manta and it was a brief swim by. There were a few large groups of fish. however i was told in Rangoria Aug/Sept/Oct s the time when fish appear in big groups. In March dive guide said the reef felt empty. It was not.

My trip to Cocos was very average, not many hammerheads , water was too warm. Galapagos was good, lots of hammerheads at wolf. But the number of sharks at fakarava is just amazing.

The giant hammerhead i saw was on the site we were not expecting to see hammerheads!!! It was shallow around 20-25 m at the end of the dive...
The deep dive to 50 m we did not see any Giant HH. The deep dive would be the perfect place to dive a re-breather.

Palau is good and offers more variety i.e Caverns, wrecks,more macro.

Thanks! Not too many people have the breadth of experiences that you've had, it's nice to pick your brain :) Just checked wetpixel and saw your post, so FP seems like a winner. I'm not so much into wrecks or macro, and i will be going to Playa Del Carmen to dive cenotes for a week this summer so that should quench my cavern diving needs.. so as far as fish/coral/big stuff is concerned it sounds like FP may be a good choice over Palau or Komodo?
 
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scubajunky17

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I can confirm though I'd kind of rather keep it a secret that Fakarava and Rangiroa are the bomb, it is the only place I have ever dived where I was completely blown away by every dive, and I mean that. I also dived the Galapagos - wolf ,darwin etc two trips to Palau. You cannot compare Palau to Fakarava and Rangiroa.
They are unreal. but try and keep it quiet please!
 

qwimjim

Contributor
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Location
Canada
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50 - 99
I can confirm though I'd kind of rather keep it a secret that Fakarava and Rangiroa are the bomb, it is the only place I have ever dived where I was completely blown away by every dive, and I mean that. I also dived the Galapagos - wolf ,darwin etc two trips to Palau. You cannot compare Palau to Fakarava and Rangiroa.
They are unreal. but try and keep it quiet please!

Wow another strong endorsement :) just curious what month did you go? I emailed a dive OP there, said jan feb is his favorite time, because it's the best time for hammerheads, reef sharks are mating and better visibility than when they mate again in June. And water is calmer. But he said most people go in July and August when groupers are mating but it's more crowded and more wind
 
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