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 made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and 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

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  1. the mere appearance of the word "shark" makes me swoon; question of semantics!
    the picture where we see 4 of them in "torpedoes" impresses me a lot, almost shells coming out of a mysterious submarine!
    That said, the photo is beautiful and the article interesting 😉

    1. @Ysbilia: This is the photo I would have dreamed of taking... It is signed by another photographer and was provided to me by the Tahitian tourist office. It gives a good idea of the atmosphere when we are in the middle of the sharks' "carpet". Conclusion: I will have to go back there, one day soon, to make my own pictures... 😉

  2. @Corinne : My biggest regret is not having been able to dive in the Tuamotu, and in particular to do "shark" dives as it was originally planned for my stay in Polynesia this year, for the reasons you know. 🙁
    But, I hope to come back one day to snorkel in Fakarava, I know it's possible, and it's better than nothing ! Snif, snif!!! 😥
    So go quickly, so we can enjoy your beautiful images 😉

  3. I confirm: the south pass, at Tetamanu, is just heaven!
    The center is in the middle of the channel, there is a great atmosphere, and the shark wall is incredible. The corals are in very good condition and Eric, the dive director, has stories to tell every night until the end of the night.
    I really loved the southern pass (much more than the northern pass where you need 20 minutes of navigation in a RIB before each dive).
    I really don't recommend the center "Dive Spirit Fakarava" in the north, which was very unpleasant with me, refused to pass me the camera in the water, with disastrous consequences: the box that opens, the loss of the complete camera. 😡

    1. @Robin Maltête: and me, I went to read your impressions on the crazy discussion of and, as a girl who wisely avoids as much as possible to jump into the water with my tank, I took good note of your recommendations and non-recommendations for my future trip... 😉 A thousand thanks for this precious feedback!!!

    2. Hello, I would also like to do this dive and had planned to pass the level 1 this year but I realize that it will not be enough. What level did you pass to do this dive? If the level 2 is enough, I'll take it too, otherwise I think I'll have to say goodbye to sharks...

    3. I am a level 4 and have logged 400 dives. I would not recommend the south pass of Fakarava to a level 1 diver: the briefings are quite short (that's an understatement), there is a lot of current, it would be a real pity to be blocked at 29m (in Polynesia, it's +9m) and the 700 grey sharks in one go, it can still be scary for beginners... Finally, for me, this place is a kind of grail for the diver, so it is more reasonable to have already done a lot of dives all over the world before approaching it, otherwise the Mediterranean will seem very bland afterwards...

    4. Thank you for this quick response!
      I understand, but I am particularly fond of sharks ..
      and as it's part of my world tour I will have done a lot of diving before.
      you're talking about Fakarava, it's the same for Rangiroa I guess?