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Dive Review of Top Dive/Maitai Dream Fakarava in
French Polynesia/Fakarava

May, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by jeff thornton, ca, United States (1 report)
Report Number 4123
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Fiji, Hawaii, Cabo, Wakatobi, Lighthouse Reef, Turneff, Bali, Great Barrior
Reef, So. Calif.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
calm, choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
82   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth, Location, Stay with group during drift for pick up  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
We arrived via Air Tahiti from Papeete to the small Fakarava landing strip
without the hassles of big airports, and within 30 minutes of landing, we
had our bags and were on our transport to Le Maitai Dream Hotel. The hotel
caters to a varied clientele,and we would guess only 25% of its guests were
divers on our stay (we were outnumbered by honeymooners with Euro bank
accounts); so the English/French divers were arranged with a native
speaking dive master. We were briefed on the diving and told if the wind
continued, they would not be able to bring the dive boat to the house dock,
and we would have to relocate boarding at the airport.  When morning
arrived the trades had resumed and we could actually see the bottom, and
happy to see we were loading from the dock.  We dove 6 dives for 3 days,
and all dives were on the Garuae Pass, an easy 30 minute ride on a
comfortable 30 foot Atea that seats up to 14 divers. We had dives ranging
from 4 divers up to 12. For the larger groups we were divided up by
language and we had two dive masters with two different drop off and pick
up sites, so our dives were limited to 4 divers. We saw up to 3 zodiacs in
our drop off zones with other groups of divers but the impact was not
felt,especially since there are several canyons to drift on the pass dive.
The first dive of the day was either on the left or right elbow of the
inside of the pass, which was a gentle (not a steep wall) slopping reef
that was absolutely beautiful. It was a challenge to see it all: we had
small critters in the reef systems, large schools of snappers hanging off
the ledge of the reef, and sharks and manta rays out in the blue of the
pass. Our profile was always the same: drift over the reef, while leveling
off on the wall at 70 to 80 feet keeping a keen eye to the open blue of the
pass and above. We would swim to a sandy rubble field where schools of
baracuda,sharks and passing tuna would drift by, and return along the same
wall, back to our boat inside the lagoon. In contrast to all other dive
operations, the second dive of the day was our deepest dive since the
incoming current swept into the lagoon for the after noon dive.(We suspect
they do not like morning dives in the pass with a open water pick up) On
these dives, we would back roll outside the lagoon and quickly descend into
the current down to 115 to 140 feet. When the wall came into view we would
grab hold of a rock and position ourselves for a 5 to 8 minute show of
hundreds of silver tip, black tip, and grey sharks. This current RIPS, we
have seen currents in Indonesia... but this one is a speedway. On one dive,
our DM broke away from the plan to descend to 115 ft to 145 feet to get a
better view of a couple of 200 to 400 lb Groupers. Quickly our alloted time
passed, and depending on the current, we would climb up the wall hand over
hand on the reef until we reached 80 feet and were swept by the current
into a series of canyons at 65 feet that held huge schools of fish hiding
from the current. We ultimately drifted into one sand bottomed canyon that
protect us from the current to some extent, and we would be entertained
watching large groupings of snapper and sharks swimming in the current
above. It was important for all divers to stay at the same depths since the
current's intensity varied at different depths; you do not want to be 2 to
5 feet above your dive buddy, or you will zip past them and will find it
hard to catch up. 45-50 minutes after we entered the water, we drifted into
the lagoon for a simple pick up on two latters.  Several dive computers
flagged Deco times ranging from 0 to 9 minutes, and the saftey stop
consisited of drifting together deeper into the lagoon for a pick up.
Mathias Michel is the manager and DM.  He is a happy DM, who enjoys his
work and speaks a fair amount of english that is harder to understand with
the wind and engine noise. There is another DM who is French who was less
attentive and he seemed happier working with French speaking divers;
unexplicably he came to the aid of one diver on a dive who did not appear
to be having problem, and gave her take his backup regualtor. After the
dive she had no idea why he took this action; he told me later, in sign
laguage, he thought she had a problem with her regulator.  Mathias assumes
most divers know what they are doing and tends to let divers alone.  Divers
not used to swift currents should take caution, as surge and currents are
unpredictable. Most divers will have to rely on dive computers since DECO
limits are met with the deep dives for athe second dive. All divers used
100 cc tanks due hard breathing due to current and potential for DECO Time.
Compared to other DM's at diver focused resorts, Mathias is rather
cavalier, and BCs' and regulators were tossed around a bit too much for our
liking on deck. Top Dive is based at the hotel and will keep your gear on
the dive boat; cleaning and replacing tanks between dives. I rank this site
as phenonomal experience and a great example of a healthy eco system of a
South Pacific Atoll/pass.

The Maitai is a very well run and serviced Hotel with good food and wine
choices. Our Bungalow was large and comfortable and we would defintely come
back again.
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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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