Diving in French Polynesia - Bluewater Dive Travel

French Polynesia

A diver observes a shark underwater in French Polynesia
A fish on a coral reef in French Polynesia
A white sand beach with trees and the sea in French Polynesia
Sharks underwater during a dive in Tahiti
A shark and a school of fish seen while diving in French Polynesia
A coral reef in clear water in Tahiti
A dolphin poses for an underwater photographer scuba diving in French Polynesia

Scuba Diving in French Polynesia

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French Polynesia Diving Highlights 

Its stunning underwater diversity makes French Polynesia diving some of the best in the world. French Polynesia is comprised of 118 incredible islands and atolls that host many varied dive sites, boasting colorful and lush reefs, various tropical fish, manta rays, and an array of sharks. One of its islands, Mo'orea, is also known to be one of the 3 places on earth where humans can safely swim and snorkel among whales.

In a nutshell, French Polynesia provides adventure for both the most and least experienced scuba divers--and even snorkelers and sightseers--offering a special experience for everyone.

For another great snorkeling destination, check our some of the best diving in Mexico.

Interested in diving French Polynesia?  View the liveaboard live availability in French Polynesia and book online at the best price or check out our sidebar for land-based options!  


Intro to French Polynesia

French Polynesia, casually referred to as Tahiti, is one of the world's top dive destinations, and definitely one of the world's best locations for shark diving. Boasting at least 16 species of shark, the shark population is very high--estimated to range into the millions--which means divers have the potential to see hundreds of sharks in the clear French Polynesian waters.  

Watch this 40-minute webinar to learn about Fakarava/Rangiroa, the marine life, and some of the great accommodation options, to see if this destination is right for you!


Read Scott Gietler's photo essay on the Wall of Sharks in French Polynesia or read  Renee Capozzola's "Epic Shark Diving in Paradise".

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Diving Information 

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Diving Rangiroa

Rangiroa scuba diving offers encounters with dolphins, gray reef sharks, and silvertip sharks. They also have schools of jacks and barracuda, eagle rays, turtles whitetip and blacktip sharks. Manta Rays are sighted occasionally. Visibility is excellent. The bigger sharks can be quite deep, 35 - 50 meters deep. Macro life is limited. In a week stay, you can usually get dolphins to make a few close passes, and they have been known to play with divers.

See also our full guide to diving in Rangiroa.

You might also want to check out shark cage diving. Check out our list of the best places in the world for shark cage diving.

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Diving Fakarava

Fakarava is one of the world's best diving destinations, and definitely boasts some of the world's best shark dives, alongside Rangiroa. There are two notable passes in this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that feed into the lagoon. The first is the Garuae Pass, located on the north side, which is the widest navigable pass in French Polynesia.

The second is the Tumakohua Pass, located on the south side. This pass is home to a narrow underwater valley known as Shark's Hole, which is heavily populated with lemon, whitecap and hammerhead sharks.

Shark diving in Fakarava is really diverse. Some of the sharks you can see include the grey reef, lemon sharks, blacktip and whitetip sharks. There are also many schools of fish, barracuda, and eagle rays. Visibility is excellent.

Read also our full guide to diving in Fakarava.


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Diving Moorea

Moorea's underwater world has an infinite range of canyons, chasms, and promontories. Fish feeding is common here so divers are often surrounded by schools of small and large marine life. Some of the highlights of Moorea diving include diving with sharks, such as the amazing lemon sharks.

With a lack of strong currents, Moorea is perfect for beginners while the deeper canyons attract the more advanced divers.

Learn about liveaboard destinations perfect for beginner scuba divers.


Moorea is also an amazing place, if not the best place in the world for swimming with whales, especially the humpback whale. A myriad of humpback whales migrates this area, from July to October/November. During this period of time, you encounter the whale population on the outer reefs of the island, searching for mates or nursing their young. 

Read also our full guide to diving in Moorea.

For another great destination with humpback whales, check out diving in the Dominican Republic.

Learn about the exciting whale encounters in San Ignacio, Mexico.

You might also want to read about our 2023 trip to Moorea.

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Diving Bora Bora

Diving Bora Bora, the most beautiful lagoon in the world, is on many divers’ “must do” list because of the abundance of large marine life. In Bora Bora, known as the "jewel of the south seas," diving is famous for manta rays and sharks, and you will see colorful hard and soft corals, teeming with reef fish everywhere.

The diving season in Bora Bora is year-round. The water temperature is always warm with an average of 84°F (29°C) in summer and 79°F (26°C) degrees in winter. The water is very clear, the visibility is over 100 feet (30m).

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Travel Information 

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How to Get There

The easiest way to get to French Polynesia is to fly into Faa’a International (PPT), on Tahiti and continue with a ferry or domestic flight to the island of your choice.  


How to Dive French Polynesia

 There are many dive resorts in French Polynesia with a wide range in prices, such as Hotel Maitai Rangiroa, Hotel Kaveka, and Manava Suite Resort Tahiti, just to name a few. Liveaboards are also available.  

Read more about diving in Polynesia from our Polynesia Trip Recap 2019.



December and January are the rainy months. Any other time is excellent for French Polynesia diving, although it can be crowded during French holidays and school holidays. Water temps are 81 degrees Fahrenheit.



The WiFi in many resorts around French Polynesian can be intermittent, especially in the islands of Rangiroa and Fakarava. It is worth checking if your cell provider offers data bolt-ons to give you connectivity during your trip.

There are also a surprisingly good number of options to buy local data when you arrive in Tahiti. Tahiti WiFi has a stand in the airport where you can rent a box that connects you to WiFi on most islands (it doesn’t work so well in Fakarava and Rangiroa). The box acts as a router and allows you to connect several devices to WiFi at one time. It can be pre-booked for you to pick up at the airport or delivered to your hotel https://www.tahitiwifi.com/. They offer various data packages starting at 5GB for 4,600 XPF ($7).

A cheaper option would be to buy a SIM card for your phone which you can then use to ‘hotspot’ to other devices. The Tahiti WiFi stand sells Vodafone SIM packages which work well in Tahiti and Moorea, but again aren’t so great in the more remote islands. They offer 3 packages starting at 2GB data, 30 minutes of local calls, and unlimited texts for around $4. Once you have your SIM card, you can top it up or buy more data at most supermarkets around the islands.

If you plan to island hop and will be exploring Fakarava or Rangiroa, your best option is to buy a SIM from local provider Vini https://www.vini.pf/mobile/international/vini-travel-card. These can be purchased from Cafe Maeva at the airport. Their packages are a bit more expensive but offer excellent coverage all over French Polynesia. For example, the Vini Travel Card costs 4,000 XPF ($33) and gives you 9GB data as well as some ‘bonus’ calls and texts. Once you have your SIM card you can top it up at most supermarkets around the islands.

If you arrive out of hours and everything at the airport is closed, there is a gas station within a 5 minute walk of the airport that also sells local SIM cards.

Another excellent option for compatible devices is an international eSIM, which has many benefits including the ability to purchase and set up your plan before you land in French Polynesia so you don't waste any of your precious vacation time. For more information, read this review of Airalo international eSIM, which details how to use it, how it works, and some tips for how to get the most out of the service.


Topside & Non-Diving Activities

  • Hiking
  • Sightseeing
  • Polynesian Dance
  • Pearl farms
  • Shopping in markets across the islands
  • Various tours & excursions

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Liveaboard Availability 

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: French Pacific Franc
  • Language: The official language is French but you can expect English to be spoken in some tourist destinations.
  • Main Airport Code: PPT
  • Time Zone: UTC-10
  • Electricity: 220 V 60 Hz

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Got Questions? Ready to Book?

Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation!

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Reviews (3)


French Polynesia (FP) is my favorite destination for diving as it consistently delivers big animals, great visibility, and beautiful top side scenery. I also like that it isn't yet "touristy" and has much fewer people than most places.

If you are into sharks, then FP is the place to go. It is one of the few places left in the world where you can see lots of sharks on pretty much every dive. Dives can be either baited or non-baited, and you will see sharks either way. There is also a diversity of marine life and other common animals include dolphins, eagle rays, turtles, manta rays, barracuda, tuna, eels, and schools of jacks.

Coral is pretty healthy throughout the Tuamotu chain (Fakarava and Rangiroa) but not so much around the Society islands (Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora).

For photography, wide angle and portrait will give the best opportunities and macro is limited.

Dive operators are plentiful and professional. Diving is land based and most dive sites are just minutes from the dive shop.

Food includes lots of fresh fish and fruit and has a French flair.

Beaches and top side scenery are breath-taking with the infinite multi-hued turquoise lagoons and white sandy beaches.

In my opinion, the only downside is that FP can be a bit pricey, especially on airfare.

Visited on 07/2014 - Submitted on 07/25/2014
  • Top Reviewer
Larkspur, CO
United States


I didn't go to Bora Bora mainly to dive, but was pleasantly surprised the day I did. I wouldn't recommend it if you're mainly interested in diving, but if you do go, plan to do at least one day of diving. Inside the lagoon there are places where you can see giant manta rays. Outside the lagoon, the coral seems quite dead, but there are lots of lemon sharks and a surprising amount of beautiful tropical fish. The visibility in the lagoon was 30-40 ft, outside in the ocean more like 100+ ft, with little current in either place. The topside accommodations are outstanding, especially if you stay in an over-the-water bungalow. We were at the St. Regis, and it is a phenomenal resort, but very pricey. Bora Bora is the ultimate destination for honeymooners, and a wonderful place for relaxation, where you can just "assume the position" by the pool or beach.

Visited on 07/2011 - Submitted on 07/30/2014

While French Polynesia is well within the tropics, the biodiversity is not as extensive here as you would find further west. That said, sharks are definitely a major draw to Fakarava where Tetumanu Village is located. I dived the grouper spawn with Bluewater Travel and stayed at the Tetamanu Village. We had excellent weather and great diving with superior visibility on in coming tides. While the accommodations are spartan, the food is good and diving can be done straight from the cabana perched on the edge of the pass. Just to see the dozens of blacktip sharks and yard long Mouri Wrasse on the skinny flats right behind the restaurant is worth the trip alone. The grouper spawn is a spectical and I would recommend getting there at least 4 days before the forecasted spawn to make sure you catch the gathering of thousands of grouper.

Visited on 05/2015 - Submitted on 11/27/2017


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