What Is It Like To Dive The Passes Of The Tuamotus

School of sharks in French Polynesia

If you’ve never been diving in French Polynesia, you’re missing out on one of greatest diving experiences in the world! Diving a pass!
Diving Tuamotus passes is exactly the type of dive that is full of surprises. Every time you experience it you will never know what you will run into! Hammerheads, grey reef sharks, school of barracudas, dolphins, eagle rays, manta rays, turtles , Napoleon wrasses! You can even encounter all of them in one single dive! It’s just adrenaline for your eyes mixed with a high-energy drift diving.

What is a pass?

A pass is a natural opening between two ecosystems, the lagoon and the outer reef. When the tide changes, the passes funnel water into the lagoon then from the lagoon to the open sea. As the tides shift, the water squeezing through the passes creates strong, river-like currents, which make a thrill ride for us, divers, and create a smorgasbord for all marine life. The lagoon’s nutritive elements are carried into the ocean on the outgoing tide, providing a daily ration of food, which keeps this ecosystem healthy and robust and attracts thousands of fish of all sizes, and these fish in turn attract bigger fish that want to eat them, hence you find a lot of sharks here.

How passes are created

French Polynesia pass and atoll

For a coral reef to develop, sun light with an average water temperature of 26°C (78°F) and a salinity of 35g/kg are required. Freshwater, which typically flows from the rivers into the ocean, prohibits the formation of the reef at the river mouth. This is the reason why there are breaches in the coral, called passes, in the coral reef that rings the lagoon. The fresh water flows through the rugged, steep mountains and valleys to the lagoon and its reef creating a natural path to the ocean.

How do we dive the passes?


We plan dives in the passes around the incoming tides to have sufficient flow to concentrate the marine life. Moreover, due to the density of the current at incoming current you won’t be swept outside into the deep blue!
Drift dives (shooting the pass) begin outside of the reef near the pass entrance. Dives typically start deeper at the mouth of the pass ( please read the diving regulations in French Polynesia ), where you’ll encounter large schools of sharks. You’ll feel the tug of the incoming tide and then just let the moving water do all the work, be prepared to experience “shooting the pass” as you go from a slow drift to electrifying rush in the narrow pass. Finally, the river of water thrusts you into the lagoon where the boat will meet you.

One of the best ways to dive the passes is to dive French Polynesia by liveaboard. They will bring you to the best ones of the area at the optimal time, as timing is crucial for the best pass diving experience. Choose the French Polynesia Master for your next diving holidays in French Polynesia!


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