Beginner Diving in French Polynesia

The South Pacific nation of French Polynesia is comprised of around 120 remote islands and atolls, which cover a combined land area of 1,400 square miles. While this is a similar area of land to that covered by London’s 32 boroughs, the French Polynesian islands are scattered over a total area that is five times larger than the whole of France. If you are looking to escape the madding crowds, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more remote destination. French Polynesia has much more to offer than its remoteness, and in spite of the need for an epic journey to reach this French overseas country, you will be rewarded with truly epic shark diving and wonderfully luxurious resorts. While the adrenaline-inducing dives in the shark-filled passes, when the currents are running, are best left to more experienced divers, the protected inner lagoons are teeming with rich fish life and provide excellent beginner diving in French Polynesia.

With so many islands scattered over such an immense area in the vast South Pacific Ocean, planning a dive odyssey to French Polynesia can be a little daunting. Our team of dive travel specialists has already schlepped their dive gear across the island groups to be able to recommend the best diving and the best resorts. With such a long journey to reach your destination, good planning is essential, and we can help you put together your dream itinerary to ensure you make the most of your time above and below the waves.

Bora Bora

If you are not the most experienced diver, the island group of Bora Bora offers some of the best beginner diving in French Polynesia and makes for a great first stop. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque airport; Motu Mute Airport is perched on a motu (islet) at the edge of the lagoon. The lagoon itself is protected from the currents and is an ideal place for beginner divers to explore. There are myriad species of colourful tropical fish flitting between the coral heads, and chances to see black-tipped reef sharks and turtles. It's also possible to see manta rays dancing in the lagoon, and the outer wall dives, away from the currents of Bora Bora's pass dive, allow for sightings of more black-tipped reef sharks and even huge lemon sharks.


Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Tuamotus island group and one of the largest in the world. It is home to some world-class diving and snorkelling, and allows visitors to combine traditional Polynesian-style living with epic beginner diving. In French Polynesia, you are never too far away from the sharks, and a dive in Rangiroa will be no different. The less-experienced diver should speak with the dive staff regarding the currents in the passes, but the lagoon dives, with plenty of turtles, barracuda, rays and a few sharks, will be perfect for your first Rangiroa dives.


To the west of Rangiroa is the atoll of Tikehau. Its name means Peaceful Landing in the local Tuamotuan language, and its inner lagoon was described by Jacques Cousteau as richer in fish life than any other lagoon in the world. The shallow lagoon is home to fields of pristine and healthy hard corals, a plethora of colourful reef fish, and offers a good chance to spot smaller sharks and rays. The more famous dives are clustered around the lagoon's pass, where sharks, dolphins and manta rays congregate. Less-experienced divers should speak to the dive staff regarding the strength of the currents during their stay. Diving the passes when the currents are strong ensures there are big numbers of sharks, but the passes can also be spectacular when the tides are slack...

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Emily C and Eleanor are our 'Beginner Diving in French Polynesia' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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