Jan 252012

The Tiputa Pass in Rangiroa, French Polynesia is legendary for several reasons.

Divers and snorkelers are in on the secret.  They know it as one of the most famed dive sites in the world. Called “Shooting the Pass”, you’re dropped off via Zodiac into the ocean side of the atoll, and you drift through the pass.  You’ll likely see many reef sharks and lemon sharks and perhaps even a hammerhead or two. Some divemasters have reported seeing tiger sharks in the pass.  You may also spot manta rays, large javanese eels, Napoleon wrasse, large titan trigger fish and even bottlenose dolphins.

Sailors may know the Tiputa Pass as 14.973°S 147.629°W or as a force to keep them waiting outside of the atoll.  There are only two passes, or entries, into the atoll of Rangiroa – The Tiputa Pass and the Avatoru Pass. These passes can only be navigated at certain times due to their strong currents, and usually this is 2 times per day (just after high tide and just after low tide).  It’s often reported to be a white knuckle ride.

Tiputa Pass at High Tide

And still others know that the Tiputa Pass is home to one of the most amazing “dolphin shows” that nature has ever produced.  And no, I’m not referring to captive dolphin shows which I think are a travesty (that’s another topic altogether, one that I may tackle sometime soon).  I am referring to the once daily occurrence when the dolphins gather in the pass to frolick in the waves produced by the strong current flowing into the lagoon.  Here you can stand and watch them jump, flip and play for almost an hour.  And what a sweet hour it is.

A Calm Moment at the Tiputa Pass

Here’s a short video, shot by Mr. Reeftraveler, that shows the Tiputa Pass in action.

And here is an underwater video by Mr. Reeftraveler of Manta Rays “shooting” the Tiputa Pass.

I read alot of trip reports on Tripadvisor and other sites.  I’ve read reports of travelers claiming to be bored in Rangiroa and those that have said three days is enough.  Each to their own, but this I can’t fathom.  Perhaps if you aren’t an ocean lover and need streets lined with glossy gift shops.  Ok, I could see then how Rangiroa may not be for you.  But oh how I long to revisit this unspoiled paradise.

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