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French Polynesia, who to dive with?

Discussion in 'The Pacific Islands' started by jjmochi, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. Manuel Sam

    Manuel Sam Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    CWK: I've stayed at The Hotel Tiare Tahiti in Papeete. Nothing fancy, but reasonably priced and in town on the main drag (Pomare Blvd) opposite the waterfront. I second the recommendation to eat at Les Roulottes. Among other things, they serve inexpensive Chinese food served piping hot off the wok, and there is a good variety of other foodstuff as well. Steak Frites - steak with French fries - and poisson cru (raw fish) are other popular choices. As long as you don't mind it being basically street food provided by food trucks. It starts at around 6:00pm.

    If this is your first trip to French Polynesia, and you are just spending a night or two in Papeete, here are a few practicalities that could be useful to you:

    If you need local currency (XPFs), there is at least one ATM and a change machine (doesn't always work) at the airport or you can exchange in town. There is even a bank at the airport but I have never seen it open during the hours I have been there. Usually I exchange at a bank in town but on my last trip in 2017, I found that banks now limit how much you can exchange at a time (supposedly to reduce money laundering), and their rates were slightly worse than those offered by a small store I found on a side street running east of the public market - sorry, never noted the name of the store.

    There is also a luggage storage facility at the airport, in case you don't want to drag all your luggage into town. Don't recall their hours - prices vary according to size of luggage and of course, number of days. This is a consideration especially if you wish to avoid taking a cab into town, which will run close to $30 US each way. In other words, if you can free yourself of big and heavy luggage, then the cheapest option into town is to exit the airport, cross the road and look for the bus stop to go east towards Papeete, These are not fancy buses and they do not have AC, but for less than $3 US, they will get you into town. I am not sure that they will take foreign currency tho. The other caveat is that they stop running early in the evening - if you decide to use these buses, please do check. There is obviously a trade-off here, saving the cab fare vs paying the storage fee.

    I earlier mentioned the Papeete Public Market - it opens really early and I am not sure how late they operate, but there are a lot of prepared food stands in there in addition to the normal grocery and produce stands. This is not fancy food, mind you, but it is relatively inexpensive and satisfying (to me at least). A foot-long Casse-Croute is a French Baguette sandwich, for less than $3 US. They don't put much meat in it, but the baguette itself is outstanding. Gotta give it to the French for passing on their bakery know-how to the Tahitians.

    BTW, your comment regarding the additional baggage allowance for divers on interisland flights on Air Tahiti is correct. All I had to do was to show my C-card to the counter agent doing the check-in.
    Wingy and CWK like this.
  2. divinh

    divinh Photographer

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco
    On my trip, also in 2017, there were two ATM's near the exit gate and I /think/ I discovered two more further down the terminal.

    My taxi ride to/from the airport was $20 USD, each way, equivalent.
  3. Sputnikboy

    Sputnikboy Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Trieste
    In a sad turn of events, I'm at Fakarava in this moment and I will be forced to skip the daytrip to the south pass as no diving outfit goes there because of unusually strong wind. With only three nights here (I couldn't really stay more this time) I knew it wouldn't be a done deal having the right tide for Tumakohua, but luck seemed to be on my side on that. Now that I'm here though, the wind has broken my plans, damn it!
    Not feeling very interested in going to Garuae... Oh well, sometimes things don't go as planned... :(
  4. Wingy

    Wingy Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Perth West Aust.
    Fakarava seems to be the one place that divers have problems caused by weather or planes or logistics more than any other - I realise not getting to do the south pass would be a bummer but.....

    You're in the Tuomotos!! I'm Jealous - enjoy
    Sputnikboy likes this.
  5. Sputnikboy

    Sputnikboy Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Trieste
    Well, the following morning we got to at least going to Tetamanu even if not with a diving trip: fair enough, the most important thing was to show my gf how wonderful is the marine life there (snorkeling is top notch for obvious reasons) and what a paradise are "le sable rose". :cool:
    I'll go back one day (for sure not next year...) so my second try in Tumakohua pass will only be postponed. :scubadiver:
    Wingy likes this.
  6. FairyBasset

    FairyBasset Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Munich
    I just wrote a trip report in this forum if that helps your planning at all. We dived with top dive except in Fakarava south, where we dived with the team at Tetamanu Village - they were awesome. We decided to miss out on BB completely, as we didn't want the honeymoon vibe and had heard the diving wasn't really worth it. We wished we could have squeezed in Tikehau as that is supposed to be great diving... next time!

    Most people in our dive groups were OW, AOW, so you don't need to worry about doing a rescue course if you are diving with top dive. Though RD is probably the most fun course you can do and well worth learning the skills. Using a reef hook is easy, there is a thread about it in this forum. I used mine twice in the 30 dives I did in FP, and most people didn't even have one.

    Having in SMB and knowing how to use it is an essential safety device for all divers and I strongly recommend you have one and know how to use it. You can never know if anything will happen on any dive and you get separated from the group. SMB makes you much easier to find. Get a decent reel, which is easy to use, so you don't get dragged up with the SMB.

    If you've dived Nusa Penida, you should be fine here as the currents are similar and the wall dives on the outer reefs had very little current while I was there. We didn't experience anything similar to washing machines etc. Maybe that does happen, but I felt the guides at Top Dive were very safety conscious and I'm sure the same goes for other operators too, as they are a long way from any deco chamber.

    Hope you have a great trip!

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