The sharks of Rangiroa. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)
© GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet

Diving among sharks in Polynesia : Rangiroa and Fakarava

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

In 2012, I discovered Rangiroa and its spectacular shark gathering. My dream: to go back there and then, next time, to dive also in Fakarava, another legendary Polynesian spot to observe sharks.

The sharks of Rangiroa

Ah, Rangiroa ! It is the most famous spot, the most legendary, which fascinates divers from all over the world. You can see a "wall" of sharks, when the current is favorable, at the entrance of the Tiputa pass.

Sharks in Rangiroa ... (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)
The sharks at Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Philippe Bacchet)

For my first immersion, with the excellent small center Y Aka Diving, in this October 2012I'm lucky: the sharks, mainly reef grays, are there in large numbers, at a depth of about 40 metres. So we're at their level and it's an incredible feeling to be able to play right in the middle of the shoal. You almost feel like a shark among sharks!

The show is both beautiful and ... peaceful. The cattle swim in the current, indifferent to our presence. ????

No autofocus, no photos...

The heart beating, I point my lens towards a big grey for a first picture... In vain. The autofocus of my camera remained in "manual" mode inside the waterproof box ! Impossible, therefore, to focus. Impossible to make a single image... Rageant! 😡

Frustrated, I still take the time to enjoy this fabulous dive, just with my eyes, before having to run with the rest of the team in the current.

The sharks of Rangiroa. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)
Above, the kind of picture I would have dreamed of taking... (Credit: © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Philippe Bacchet)

On my second attempt, the camera worked (this time, I checked well before launching). Unfortunately, on this day, the shoal was much too deep, in the 60 meters. It was impossible for our group to go down among the sharks this time. We had to contemplate them from above, at a distance of about 20 meters. In fact, it is more like a "carpet" of sharks...

Otherwise, in Rangiroa, it is also possible to dive with sharks in the open sea, in the blue. It is forbidden to feed them or to bait them, to avoid disturbing their behavior, but it is allowed to attract them at a prescribed distance from the coast, by spreading a fish "smell" in the water. It is quite impressive: I invite you to go back see the video I posted at the time, with a silky shark quite insistent.

Silky shark and diver. Rangiroa, French Polynesia. October 2012.
Silky shark photographed off Rangiroa. Polynesia, October 2012.

Fakarava, I dream of it!

When I go back to dive in Polynesia, in a future that I hope will not be too far away, I will of course put Rangiroa back on the program, but also the atoll of Fakarava, that I do not know yet and that I hope to discover one day, also located in the Tuamotus. Its southern pass, Tumakohua, also has its "wall" of sharks.

If the comments on the forums and diver blogs are to be believed, the site is just as spectacular as Rangiroa or even more so, and easier to dive... I dream about it! 😍

UPDATE 2018. Arte diffuses aired in June 2018 the documentary 700 sharks in the night by Luc Marescot, about the expedition led by the biologist and underwater photographer Laurent Ballesta to Fakarava.
An exciting film and spectacular images, about the behaviour of these sharks, especially at night, when they hunt. Laurent Ballesta also published a book on this extraordinary adventure.
On YouTube, Arte then uploaded two 7-minute episodes of 360-degree images shot in Fakarava during Laurent Ballesta's expeditions. I give them to you below (don't hesitate to "move" in the video to enjoy them, it's fascinating): 

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012