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French Polynesia and Tahiti diving holidays

One of the world's most beautiful diving destinations: Tahiti and her islands. Whales, sharks and dolphins combined with fast currents and exquisite sandy islands all await those prepared to make the long trip to French Polynesia. Tahiti and her islands are about as far away from any large continent as it is possible to get. Located between 5 and 25 degrees below the equator and around 150 degrees from the Greenwich Meridian, they are also about as far as one can travel around the globe from the UK. The air temperature changes little, averaging an extremely pleasant 26C, while the water remains a comfortable tepid-bath temperature for most of the year. This is where the ocean is home to big marine life. Here, a variety of pelagics either take up residence or are en route to and from their breeding grounds, and huge humpback whale cows suckle their young for about a third of the year in the sheltered waters found off the island of Rurutu. Tiger, great hammerhead and grey reef sharks all enjoy the fast-flowing channels that supply an aquatic breakfast and supper to the gigantic lagoon of Rangiroa, while throughout the autumn dolphins gorge themselves on the tens of millions of breeding snapper at the narrow passage in Fakarava. 

I have come to French Polynesia to learn how to relax. No place better suits the idle than French Polynesia, a group of 118 tiny volcanic islands scattered like pebbles over a stretch of the South Pacific Ocean the size of Western Europe. Although the entire country is familiarly called Tahiti, French Polynesia actually encompasses five far-flung archipelagos: the Tuamotus, the Marquesas, the Austral Islands, the Gambier Islands, and the thirteen Society Islands, so named by Captain James Cook during his 1769 visit. (This was ten years before he met his ignominious end in Hawaii, 2,400 miles to the northeast.) Today, Tahiti and Bora Bora are the best-known of the Society Islands, though Moorea, Raiatea, and Huahine are also members of the chain. Ever since Cook's visit, French Polynesia has attracted pleasure seekers and runaways, people hoping to escape the grayness, the routine, of their lives. "I am entering into the truth, into nature," said Paul Gauguin, one of the most famous runaways, and looking at these islands, it is easy to believe him.  

Soon I am settled on my own deck, staring out into nothing—so hypnotizing, this clear aqua water! Here, time shrinks or expands, is impossible to measure or parse. The magazines I've brought remain untouched, and before I know it, the sun is fading from the sky, the afternoon is gone, and it's twilight.

Posted by a Alexandra Marshall on the Conde Nast Traveller website July 2006. These words somehow reflect the unique atmosphere of the Islands of Tahiti, contrasted only by the adrenaline and excitement of the diving. No place offers more shark encounters like the Atoll of Rangiroa or the unforgettable interaction with humpack whales in Rurutu. 

Tahiti is now more accessible than ever thanks to lower flight and accommodation prices. Like Alexandra says time shrinks or expands and is impossible to measure. Here two weeks will feel like month. Diving World offers you flexible tailor made itineraries thanks to our intimate knowledge of these Islands and dive sites.

Tahiti was rated shark capital of the Pacific by Skin Diver magazine and it definitely lives up to its rating. Lemon, grey, black tip, white tip, and hammerhead sharks all make the waters around Tahiti their home. 

To a diver, Tahiti spells sharks – tons of sharks that can be observed and enjoyed by both scuba divers and snorkelers alike. With an estimated population of 240,000 residents, Tahiti (more correctly known as French Polynesia) is literally outnumbered by the sharks that inhabit the outer reefs and open seas. While no one knows the exact number, the shark population is estimated in the millions. And because of the extraordinary underwater visibility (often 200 feet), it is not uncommon for a diver to view more than one hundred sharks on a single dive.

According to shark expert Dick Johnson, in his book Sharks of Polynesia, at least 16 shark species have been recorded in French Polynesian waters. It is definitely a sharky place, as I have observed five species in a single day of diving: Gray Reef sharks, Silvertips, Great Hammerheads, Whitetip Reef sharks and small Blacktips. Few places on earth offer this kind of variety and abundance for shark dives. 




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