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Current in French Polynesia

Discussion in 'The Pacific Islands' started by ab1040, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. ab1040

    ab1040 New

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Honolulu
    I'm hoping to get some advice on a possible trip to French Polynesia. It sounds like the best diving is in Rangiroa or Fakarava but I'm trying to decide if I'm up for it with the reports of potential strong currents. The back story is that I enjoyed about 150 dives before becoming rescue certified. My husband and I then had a bad experience with intense current in Mozambique. No one was seriously injured, no deco, but it was unsafe and extremely unpleasant. Ever since then I've been struggling to enjoy diving. I've done 20-30 more dives without incident and while I've been able to remain calm and nothing bad has happened I've just really been unhappy on the dives with current. Diving just lost a lot of its fun for me when it started to feel like a survival exercise rather than a relaxing pastime. I actually skipped our last dive at Rainbow reef in Fiji because I just didn't feel like diving again. We did some easy dives on the Big Island in Hawaii which I was happy enough with. It sounds like Bora Bora or Moorea may be more my speed at this point. My husband on the other hand remains an avid diver and I know he would prefer the better diving on the atolls. So my questions are just how strong is the current near Rangiroa and Fakarava? Is it possible/worth it to dives with less current? I know it sounds really lame and I'm embarrassed to ask but it seems like ever since we got rescue certified the dive masters want to take us to the more challenging dives and while we can technically handle it, I just don't enjoy it. Is diving in Moorea or Bora Bora even worth it? We live in Hawaii so tickets are reasonable and we could certainly go back in the future. Thanks in advance for any advice!
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  2. ColoDale

    ColoDale ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Cozumel
    Fakarava and Rangiroa will have strong currents if you dive in the passes and this also depends on the tide/time of day. Around the fringe reef on the passes there may be some current but also surge.

    The diving around Bora Bora and Moorea will have some current in the passes but our diving was on the inside of the lagoons and on outside the reef and a bit away from the passes. We did not dive passes in these locations. Inside the lagoon there is not much current but had a bit of surge. Outside the reef there was more surge. This is again dependent on tides for magnitude of current and surge (i.e. water coming out of the lagoons or entering).

    The diving was better in the Toumotus that Society islands but there were quite alot of sharks (reef and lemon) and ineresting fish around Moorea. Bora Bora was ok but not spectacular. The Tuomotu diving was live boat drift diving and Society was moored. And all off zodiaks.

    In the Tuomotus we saw Manta rays but not Bora Bora and Moorea. We did see dolphins in the Toumotu passes though from the boat coming back in as the time of day was wrong for diving the passes at least in Rangiroa.
    We saw eagle rays and pipehorses in the lagoon side on Moorea along with turtles and sharks outside the reef. Diving was better in Moorea than Bora Bora.

    There are a few threads within the last year on SB if you search on Tahiti or French Polynesia. My report is about 1.5 years old but has some photos and info. Others threads might help you.

    I concur with you that I want to enjoy the dive and not spend my time fighting current and surge especially if I have a camera and the boat is moored. Some sites were enjoyable and a few it was just a workout. However current and surge will exist to some degree in FP no matter what especially in and around the passes.

    Depending on how you do FP (land based or ship), I would definitely make your wishes known to the dive op in advance and see what they say. Maybe don't tell them about higher cert levels.
    tridacna likes this.
  3. Shasta_man

    Shasta_man Contributor

    <<I know it sounds really lame and I'm embarrassed to ask>> HOLD IT. Wrong attitude. Diving within your comfort zone is exactly what you should be doing. Otherwise, at the least, you get what you got which is no fun. You took on this hobby because you wanted to have fun, remember? So no apologies for wanting to enjoy diving and declaring your interests. Diving is about going amazing places and seeing amazing things with some fun adventure thrown in which should not include dying. :) Further, people don't get certified for rescue so they can go places they could die. You get certified so you can help yourself or others if it comes to that in any location. Diving shouldn't be life threatening experience and guides should be taking you places and at times where that is the case. It's about the critters and places you see not cheating death. My response is blunt because it sounds like you could get guilted to do something you don't want to and at the least, quit diving or enjoying it.

    I think of drift diving as some of the easiest diving you can do because you are flowing with the current. Done correctly that's what happens. At most, you go up current a short distance and then flow with it the rest of the dive. Sometimes current changes so the dive plan changes. That's how it should be done and what you should ask for wherever you go
    Hoag and chillyinCanada like this.
  4. Altamira

    Altamira ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: TX
    Was in FP, two years ago, and going back this month to dive Fakarava and Rangiora. Will let you know how those are for currents, but I believe they are drift dives so there will be current in the passes. Bora Bora and Moorea not much current, but did see a lot of Mantas on one dive at a cleaning station. Frankly, I will dive in FP, but am not going there primarily for the diving as I don't think it is nearly as good as the best places in the Caribbean, and a long way behind the Red Sea, Indonesia, and many others. But FP is a gorgeous place to visit.
  5. Damselfish

    Damselfish ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    I doubt having Rescue certification is causing them to take you to more challenging dives, more likely a coincidence of the places you've gone since Rescue. Rescue (at least the PADI version) says you have a minimum number of dives, but there's nothing in Rescue that has anything to do with learning to dive in currents, or really doing anything "advanced" diving-wise. Most ops are watching new customers the first dives to decide what their skills are and who they need to keep an eye on, and don't assume much of anything based on what cards they have or anything else. But how much leeway they have to choose "easy" sites depends on a lot of things.

    Currents aren't always bad, they usually mean more life to see (though with a little more effort.) And they're not always difficult to deal with, they can be fun. But as said, you need to dive at your comfort level - or maybe just a tiny bit past it to learn. If you never did dives in current then went straight to something crazy, maybe you need to step back and check out places where there is current but more modest, get practice and work up to it. And your husband needs to accept that if you're diving with him, and maybe sometimes he will do certain dives without you. It's all ok. I've been diving for a long time and I'm not a fan of anything crazy or having to fight currents either. And my ears are fussy and don't deal well with negative entries or drama. I've had a few experiences where I really wished I was not in the water. So I do my research and avoid places or ops that I'm pretty sure won't suit us. There's a few places I would love to see, where I know we would most likely not enjoy the current, temps, or other conditions, and I accept that we will just pass on diving those places.
    Altamira and chillyinCanada like this.
  6. vimaldude

    vimaldude Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: SF Bay Area
    I am with you there.

    I am also rescue certified and had a bad experience with currents in Indonesia. The dive master took us on a dive with strong current which changed half way through the dive. Worse, it became a down current and we were literally hanging off dead corals while the dive master tried to figure out what to do next. After a while the current abated a bit and we decided to call it.
    Since then, I have been wary of dive sites with strong currents.

    For me, I have decided to fight my fears and speak to the dive masters before any dive with currents. If it is just a drift dive, then I will go along but anything where you have to go against the current, I won't dive. Just not worth it for me.
  7. chris kippax

    chris kippax Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Australia
    Current dives are only bad if you fight the current. There is no reason to fight current. If the site is known for current the dive must be planned around it ie live drift/reef hook/crawl along the bottom/slow swim against until turn time/pressure then return with the current. The lower you are the less the current. No one enjoys fighting current it is like running in sand!
    Deinonych likes this.
  8. Sputnikboy

    Sputnikboy Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Trieste
    In Bora Bora and Tikehau I didn't have much problems with currents: they were present in the passes but nothing to remember. Tiputa pass in Rangiroa can be challenging, yes, but it depends on the DM/Instructor to choose a dive which is within the comfort zone of its divers. In Ali Baba cave (Fakarava-Garuae pass) I experienced a VERY strong current (on par with Peleliu Express) and while I had no problems, another diver in my group complained that the dive was not what he wanted/liked (he drifted away upside down for a good amount of minutes...).
    So yes, you have to be cautious sometimes but there are plenty of quiet spots even in Fakarava and Rangiroa, but it also depends on what you look for: these two atolls are known exactly for their passes and the quantity of dolphins and sharks, not for nice corals, reef fishes or macro.
  9. Damselfish

    Damselfish ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    Trouble is sometimes you do have to fight current. I've seen dives planned that way, sometimes for reasons that escape me. But currents aren't always predictable. I don't think anyone plans to dive in an up current or down current but they happen. Unexpected crazy currents can appear out of nowhere. Currents expected to be modest at the time turn out to be wild, or become that way. Just turning it into a drift may or may not be an option at that point. Some places are more prone to these things. Swimming lower is not always a solution, nor is crawling - which IMO _is_ fighting the current, just in a different way. And you have to come up sometime.

    A planned live drift or hook that goes according to plan is a different sort of thing (though some people aren't even fond of those.) And a swim against a current and drifting back is ok for something very mild, but I don't think those are the sorts of currents people are mostly concerned with here.
  10. chris kippax

    chris kippax Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Australia
    You will find the diving in Fakarava and Rangiroa is live boat. Just go with it, take a spool, light, whistle and dsmb and you should have no issues.

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