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Dive Review of Raie Manta/Ariana Pension in
French Polynesia/Rurutu (Austral Island Group)

September, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Laura Todd, CA, USA
Report Number 842
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Hawaii, Honduras, Fiji, Sea of Cortez, Palau, Tonga, Niue
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
choppy, noCurrents  
Water Temp
74   to 78    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Snorkeling only - contact with whales regulated  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
There are no accomodations for photographers even though world famous UWP's
come here.  Bring a waterproof hard case for your stuff and expect to do
all care at your accomodation.  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
2 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
2 stars    
This trip was for whale watching, not diving, but is easily combined with
the quite good diving elsewhere in Tahiti. This operation is only open July
through October when the whales are around Rurutu.  They are the only shop
in town and it shows - a little competition would do Raie Manta a world of
good.  For US $100 per outing, customers are apparently entitled to a pick
up at their accomodation and 3 hours at sea and that's it.  The staff
barely spoke to customers all week, preferring to chat amongst themselves
and with the local boat drivers.  These guys deserve a mention for the
"Utterly Lacking in Service" award for stopping unanounced at the
local grocery store with an open truck full of shivering customers post
afternoon outing for about 20 minutes so the owner could do his personal
food shopping. Also sorely lacking was safety equipment.  The only thing
that could vaguely be construed as safety gear that I saw was a cell phone;
no life jackets, no throw ring, no radio, no first aid kit.  Speaking of
which, if you want anything to eat or drink, bring it with you.  They
advertise that raincoats are provided; in reality this means there are 6
coats for 24 customers.  These do nothing to keep you dry but do prevent
freezing in the high winds and constant saltwater spray.  At these prices,
you'd think they could invest in some simple ladders, but no.  Everybody
has to scramble back into the fiberglass fishing boats using the swim step.
 All of this wouldn't be too big of a deal in calm conditions, but it was
rough as hell for us all week = swells in the 2 -3 meter range (6-9 feet
plus) with gnarly chop sloshing around on top of that due to the high
winds.  Bring more seasick medication than you think you'll ever go
through.  I found the climate otherwise delightful with daytime temps in
the low 80's and into the low 70's at night, but others were cold.  It is
much cooler here compared to the rest of Tahiti. The most important thing
to know is that the island is not overrun with whales.  The humpbacks do
come here consistently, but only 12 - 20 and they are mostly different
whales each year.  Some years they are very tolerant and even seek human
interaction, sometimes they are quite shy.  They are wild animals and there
is no guarantee as to the nature of your contact with them.  We had quite a
bit of good surface sightings including breaches but only 4 chances to be
in the water with whales in a week.  

Pension Ariana has a lovely setting with bungalows scattered down a
flowering hill above a nice beach with sunset views.  Unfortunately the
accomodations could have been a lot cleaner; one customer complained that
they arrived to find the sheets from the previous guests still in place. 
The rooms were dark and very buggy.  Mosquito nets would go a long ways;
bring your own as "Mama" is not real receptive to feedback.  The
food was simple but adequate.  One guest who used the kitchen to prepare
food for her baby stated that it was dirty.  A better choice would be the
new Manotel, which has four pretty bungalows and reportedly great food. 
The only downside here is that there is no landscaping to speak of and the
beach is across the road.  It's very helpful to have some French here.  Do
take the island tour; there are interesting caves and very nice views.  The
local women do very high quality pandanus weaving; the intricate hat bands
are especially nice.  Credit cards are not used on the island.  It's best
to pre-book everything with a Papeete travel agent, who will meet your
international flight with vouchers.  I have found Tahiti Tours to be very

DON'T take the weekly Hawaiian Air flight to Tahiti; they stranded us on
the return for FOUR DAYS due to an electrical problem.  Hawaiian's idea of
compensation for this delighful sidetrip was a discount on future travel
for those who stuck out the whole four days and squat for those of us who
got home a little earlier without any help from Hawaiian.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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