Rangiroa & Fakarava: Scuba Diving in the Tuamotu Islands

The Tuamotu Archipelago, often known as the Tuamotu Islands, is a French Polynesian group of slightly under 80 islands. They make up the world’s largest atoll chain, covering an area nearly the same size as Western Europe, which is a total land area of 850 square kilometres.

With so many beautiful beaches and lagoons, the Tuamotu Islands are also one of the top diving locations in the world. Scuba diving on the islands, especially in Rangiroa and Fakarava is a unique experience because it allows you to swim with a variety of fish and other marine animals. You can also combine diving into these two magnificent islands with an overwater bungalow stay in iconic Bora Bora for a more terrific experience, or access the Tuamotu islands through selected cruises such as the Paul Gauguin Cruises.

manta ray
Manta Ray

Apart from the unique experience it may provide at any time, scuba diving has a number of health benefits, including stress relaxation, reduced blood pressure, increased muscle strength and flexibility, and so on.   Passionate divers know the sheer exhilaration you get from dives does a body good.

Diving in Rangiroa

Rangiroa can be recognized as one of the world’s largest natural aquariums. This renowned diving spot should be at the top of any keen diver’s list, because of its variety, the accessible lagoon and access to a range of accommodations from basic dive resorts, family-run pensions or up to 4-star luxurious resorts.

Diving in Rangiroa is very exceptional because, in just one dive, you will experience swimming with a variety of fishes such as dolphins, different kinds of sharks, turtles, tuna, and barracudas. There are also good resorts and outstanding diving spots in Rangiroa such as the Avatoru Pass, Tiputa Pass, and the Tiputa Canyons, some of which are also good for snorkelling.


The Tiputa Pass is located between the settlements of Tiputa and Avatoru, northeast of the atoll of Rangiroa. The Avatoru Pass, only a few hundred meters from the Tiputa pass, is also popular and warrants part of your diving time. Here are some of the best diving spots include:

  • Shark’s Cave (La Grotte Aux Requins)
  • Canyons (The Valley)
  • The Run (La Marche)
  • The Crossing (La Traversée)
  • The Windmill (L’éolienne)
  • The Blue (Le Bleu)
  • The Half Windmill (La mi-éolienne)
  • The Angle (L’angle)

sea turtle in Tahiti

Diving in Fakarava

Fakarava features two beautiful passes and a large and deep lagoon. Passe Garuae, the lagoon’s main entrance, and Tumakohua, the lagoon’s southern entrance, are the largest passes in French Polynesia. Fakarava is pristine and untouched, so it has a huge diversity and density of sharks and fish. In a single dive, you will have the chance to see a wall of up to 500 sharks.


The Garuae Pass is Polynesia’s widest navigable pass. The pass has several dive alternatives: great topography, marine life, and fun drift diving. The pass is so wide that divers can scarcely see both sides and spotting large schools of fish is common. Scuba divers can also get a chance to see sharks, groupers, parrotfish, and wrasses and occasionally humpback whales.

shark in French Polynesia


Shark’s Hole is a tiny underwater valley near Tumakohua Pass. Lemon, whitecap, and hammerhead sharks are very rich in the area. Shark encounters are almost common here. It has a shark wall that draws divers from all over. Scuba divers can swim among squirrelfish, damselfish, snappers, and other reef fish. In addition to drift diving, the Tumakohua Pass offers stunning underwater landscapes.

Best Time to Dive in Rangiroa and Fakarava

Rangiroa offers year-round scuba diving. From around late August to mid-October, divers can see manta rays and humpback whales. If you want to see hammerhead sharks and eagle squadrons, the best time to go to Rangiroa is from January to March. November to April is the wetter season while May to October is the dry season.

Fakarava also offers year-round diving. although the seas can be rougher sometimes from June to September and December to March can be a wetter time to visit with more rain. Sharks can be seen year-round and are especially attracted to grouper spawning in June and July.

Interested in more information about diving in the Tuamotu Islands? Check out my video with Sebastien from Top Dive Tahiti:

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Carl Henderson