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Rangiroa Island: A Paradise... With Sharks!
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An hour's flight from Tahiti, in the Tuamotu Archipelago, one will find Rangiroa - the second largest atoll in the world, and the largest in the South pacific. Rangiroa - meaning "Vast sky" in Toamotuan - is home to the lagoon that covers an area of more than five hundred square kilometers, making it the second largest lagoon in the world.
The shallow lagoon communicates with the Pacific ocean through two narrow channels: Avatoru and Tiputa. A vast quantity of clear, turquoise water flows from the ocean into the lagoon, and from the lagoon into the ocean, creating a strong current. Following the tides, there are various breeds of fish, such as jacks, rays, manta, tuna, barracuda, triggerfish, snappers, moray eels, or Napoleon fish, as well as turtles, dolphins and sharks, such as hammerhead, black tip reef, white tip reef, gray reef and whale sharks, and an occasional tiger shark.
The variety of its marine life, and the fantastic visibility, make the Rangiroa's lagoon one of the best diving spots in the world! In the Avatoru pass area, there are at least five driving spots, and three in the Tiputa pass area, including the phenomenal Shark Cave, in addition to other diving spots, most notably Nuhi Nuhi (The Aquarium) in the lagoon waters. When the water is flowing into the lagoon, the conditions are ideal for a drift dive along the Avatoru and Tiputa pass. You are carried along with the current, controlling only your direction and speed. When the tide is flowing out, diving takes place on the ocean side of the reef near the two passes. A short distance away, the reef drops to a depth of a more than a kilometer. This is the place where the big pelagic creatures can be seen.
Rangiroa Island is the only marine habitat for wild dolphins in the French Polynesia. There are hundreds of motu, small islands; only the two largest ones near the Tiputa pass are populated. Although an isolated part of the South Pacific, Rangiroa can be reached by several of French Polynesian destinations.
The climate is subtropical year-round, with a dry and a rainy season, and the conditions for diving are almost always excellent. In different seasons, one can expect to see different marine species. Still, diving outside the Rangiroa lagoon is best left to the more experienced divers; there are plenty of diving spots inside the reef which are suitable for all levels of scuba divers.
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