Sunset dive in the Tiputa pass, Rangiroa

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During a pleasant trip in the Tuamotu islands I finally arrived on the atoll of Rangiroa. This large atoll boasts a good international reputation in terms of scuba diving. One of the best destinations in French Polynesia. I was looking forward to testing the foundations of this reputation. In any case, I’d soon be in the water to try out the famous “Sunset dive” in theTiputa pass!

Warmly welcomed by Magali and Audrey of the TOPDIVE center – the divecanter sales team, I donned my wetsuit and tried to contain my excitement.

The dive group and I met our instructors: Francisque, (better known as “Sissou”) a jovial, funny and well-built chap; Claudio a cheerful Hispanic and his melodious accent; Nicolas, who provided a good dose of serious professionalism and fun; and Manu, a Polynesian instructor with an indelible smile on his face. After a detailed briefing of dive plan and safety features, we were off.

Sunset dive in Tiputa pass

Sunset dive in Tiputa pass, Rangiroa

With a relaxed atmosphere onboard our dive boat, it had the makings of a good sunset dive!
I certainly enjoyed the time each monitor spend with each diver, sharing our feelings and apprehensions of the dive to come. Pretty comforting when you have butterflies in your stomach…

Making the last adjustments: mask, fins, tank, weight belt… finally ready, we were all set for surface entry! 1,2,3… back-roll !

Our immersion in the big blue was fast and uneventful. Before that dive, I never had the opportunity to dive in the deep ocean just before crossing a pass… it felt good. Like being in an aquatic safari where you feel very, very small … but, with a HUGE sensation of freedom!

We arrived in the pass and there “the show could start”. Neither predator nor prey, we were just spectators mesmerized by a natural spectacle in the pass.

“ Like being in an aquatic safari where you feel very, very small … but, with a HUGE sensation of freedom! ”

The hunters (Jack fish, sharks, dogtooth tunas, barracudas and humphead wrasses) paid us no mind. They were too busy at lunchtime! I did not realize that the Humphead wrasse was the absolute master here…not even sharks bothered them. For the first time I could see Humphead wrasses hunting. They present watchful eyes big as ping pong balls in perpetual motion.

The prey seemed agitated. Schools of Heller’s barracuda – trying to form a compact shoal to show strength in numbers! Unfortunately for them this did little keep the predators at bay. We attended to an unbelievable show 10 meters below us. This large shoal of fish made me think of a dialbolic cloud lying on the grass… I let my childhood imagination run wild. Some adventures do that sometime!

In the pass, a soft drift led us to a dancing ballet of hundreds of Surgeonfish. Since it was the mating season, the males changed color to seduce the females… it was quite a spectacle!

For this type of dive – the benefits of NITROX were much appreciated: a long dive with a short decompression stop. Upon surfacing, we took in a wonderful view of a tiny motu (islet) with its isolated coconut tree. It was the perfect exotic postcard.

At the end of the day, one wonders why all of your dive mates have this sweet little expression on their faces. Funny, how the simple joys of nature express all the happiness of that moment and make your day or your divetrip !

© Photos : T.Kotouc, F.Protche

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