South Passe (Tumakohua Passe) Fakarava
14 – 18/6/2021
The shark diving in Fakarava in the south passe is fantastic. We did numerous dives in the passe and saw the marbled grouper resting on the sandy ‘bunny slope’ area that you dive. The bunny slope is also like a shark superhighway; they swim up and down the slope and there are a lot of them.
I expected the experience to be terrifying. Since the time in Fiji when we snorkelled with Andrew, his brothers and their wives when I had a reef shark circling me while pregnant with Ava, I have very successfully exited the water after seeing a shark. The encounter was very serene and peaceful floating amongst blacktip and grey reef sharks that swim by above, below, and beside you. If you get too close, they will quickly turn away from you. There were usually a few whitetip reef sharks lying on the sand strip sleeping but if you got too close, they swam away swiftly. We did see one shark repeatedly diving on the sand and rubbing its body as though scratching an itch. The shark diving is a pretty cool experience and definitely the best of the Tuamotus.
Interestingly enough Charisma tried to get their dive tanks filled and couldn’t find a dive operator who would do it. I don’t know if this is the norm or whether it was because it was spawning time. If you can’t get your tanks filled then you either miss the opportunity or you have to pay to go with a dive operator. Our dive compressor has gotten a lot of use here.
Unfortunately, we have had the underwater camera die on us; we think the seal had worn out as it was used so much last year, so water got in. Yes, we do have a dive camera housing, but this occurred while snorkelling. We have ordered new ones and hope they will arrive before we leave French Polynesia. We are anxiously watching the FedEx tracking (LA to Hawaii to New Zealand) and wait for it to leave its current location in New Zealand.
Andrew during our shark dive.
We did not dive the north passe as the anchorage is too far away from the village anchorage to dinghy with a 15 hp motor and with the currents and waves in the passe it would have been too dangerous.
21 – 23/6/2021
By the time we arrived back in the anchorage after our trip to Motu Hirifa, there were close to 40 boats anchored to see the marbled grouper spawning.
A very busy anchorage with over 30 yachts
We did a few more dives over the next two days in the south passe and took Seth from Distant Star with us. Most of the marbled grouper were gone from the sand slope and had moved out into deeper water, perhaps in preparation for spawning, but the number of sharks had increased dramatically.
It was then time to say goodbye to Fakarava! Photos below are of the resorts and dive centres lining one side of the passe.
Motu Hirifa 18 – 20/6/2021
The wind did pick up in the south anchorage and we moved to another anchorage at Motu Hirifa (Hirifa Island) about 6 miles away where we spent a few days until it settled down and we were able to return to do some more dives.
The anchorage in the south-east corner has a restaurant and a kite surfing school which Makawi attended and enjoyed. On the island there are also slack lines set up which entertained the teens and a rope swing which entertained Leif, Eden, and Kline. The restaurant had a puppy, a couple of hefty sows with large litters of adorable piglets, which Ava loved. We had a pot-luck dinner on our last night in the anchorage where we said goodbye to Maya who was staying to work at the kite school.
After dinner, we had a bonfire and then Ashe brought out her fire twirling sticks which entertained everyone for hours. Ashe is absolutely amazing with them and actually makes it look quite sexy. Max, Seth, Alexis, and Maya enthusiastically participated and had a fantastic time, I have included a few short clips of each person. Seth did manage to singe a bit of his hair, but it will grow back.
Videos of the Utopia Crew; Max and Ava
Videos of the Distant Star Crew; Ashe and Ilo.
Videos of the Charisma Crew; Alexis, Chris, Seth and Maya. Don’t worry none of the littles had a go at fire dancing.