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Dive Review of Blue Dolphins Dive Center/Kia Ora in
French Polynesia/Rangoroa

April, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by William Ungerman, California, USA
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4739 has 1 Helpful vote
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
calm, surge, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
83   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
100   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Follow the Divemaster (sort of).  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
2 stars  
Not really oriented towards photography.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
3 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
The flight to Rangiroa took us from LAX to Papeete, the capital on the
island of Tahiti, via Air Tahiti Nui. It's an eight hour flight.  There are
posted extreme baggage restrictions on the prop flight into Rangiroa but
they were ignored by AIr Tahiti personnel (Thank God).  Papette is strictly
a transit point.  I wouldn't recommend making it a destination: typical
large city with street derelicts, slums, and strewn garbage.  From there we
took a one-hour ride into Rangiroa, which is the second largest atoll and
lagoon in the world.  Kwajalein is the largest and Rangiroa is tied in size
with Huvadhu in the Maldives.  1660 square kilometers, the lagoon has it's
own horizon and is breathtaking.  No amount of hype or hyperbole can
exagerate the beauty of this place.  Rangiroa means "Vast Sky" in
Tahitian and is in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

We stayed at the Kia Ora resort in an overwater bungalow and it was
fabulous.  The waters are azure and turquoise, brilliant white to deep
blue, a picture postcard in any direction you look.  The atoll is over two
hundred miles in circumfrance but only six miles are connected via concrete
bridges, basically Avatoru to Tiputa, the two passes you dive.  The low
bridges span the tidal estuaries.  The food at the hotel was excellent, but
see below.  We also ate at the Kai Kai and Vaimario restaurants, both which
will send a car to pick you up at the hotel.  This is good inasmuch as a
cab ride for any distance (yes, even as little as a 1/2 mile) costs 500
French Pacific Francs each way (a total of about $14.00).  No discount for
extra passengers either.  

The diving was grand.  When the current is right (incoming to the lagoon)
you are dropped with a backward roll from the rigid inflatables into the
ocean blue and drift into the pass (principally the Tiputa).  If the
current is slack or reversed, you dive the outer walls.  The incomming
current drifts are best.  Hundreds of sharks, an occasional Manta,
dolphins.  Yes, it's all here.  Now, I have seen Chevron Barracuda in
schools and swirling eddies in Palau, the Maldives, and Sipidan, but I have
never seen thousands of Great Barracuda in schools.  Only here.  Napolean
Wrasse on every dive (at least six or seven) and more Trumpet Fish than you
will ever see anywhere.  There is no soft coral and the hard corals within
the passes are scrubbed and scoured clean due to the voracious currents;
so, don't expect dazzling corals.  The water was warm (averaging 84 degrees
Farenheit) and the visibility well over one hundred feet.  We dove for five
days, two dives a day and were the only divers except for one day when
there were three others. There is a large and always fresh gear rinse tank
at the dive shop, which is right on the beach.  "Jean-Jacques"
was the instructor/divmaster, the Platonic Form and quintessential French
dive guide.  Jacques Cousteau has nothing on this guy.  He was great and
after the first dive, treated us like fellow divers, not dive tourists.

French is the predominant language inasmuch as Tahiti is virtually a French
colony.  It is a socialistic society with France subsidizing or paying for
everything.  Gas is cheap (the only thing) but health care is universal and
free to Tahitians.  I am surprised that institutialized sloth has not
overtaken Tahiti, but there appears to be some personal industry evident. 
Tourism and black pearls are the only activities.  Prices:  I would like to
say "attrocious," but this doesn't quite capture the essence. 
Let me be descriptive by illustration:  milk shakes - $18.00; T-shirts -
$50.00; Cokes - $4.50 a can.  Just a sneak preview of what you can expect. 
Breaskfast was included in the package we arranged with World Of Diving (a
great group by the way) but we were spending around three hundred dollars
(U.S.) for the four of us for the evening meal. The negative U.S. to Franc
rate of exchange exacerbates the staggering costs.  Well, ces't la vie,
you're on vacation....

There are three types of bungalows offered:  garden, beach, and overwater. 
The mosquitos were tearing up the folks in the garden variety.  My daughter
and mother-in-law stayed in the beach-style and said it was okay for bugs. 
They also had an ambient temperature jacuzzi.  The overwater ones have a
glass coffee table you can open and feed the hordes of tropical fish below.
 There is also a patio deck and ladder leading into the blue lagoon so you
can snorkel away.  Our bungalow featured a wood phallus jutting out from
the hand-carved woodwork although others had been apparently previously
chopped off in response to some complaints.  Well, us consenting adults
just hung our wetsuits on the thing.  Rain everyday be it a short shower or
a Biblical deluge.  Notwithstanding, the sun was out thereafter as well as
the 100-plus degree heat.  Overnight lows about 75.  Bonus for you good old
boys:  topless French lasses which I ignored upon spousal order.  Mostly. 
The flesh is back here in Santa Ana here but the spirit is still in

Everyone should go to Rangiroa once before they die.  Save your sheckles
and break that old piggy bank, it's worth the price of admission.
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