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July 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Out-of-Practice, but I Want to Dive French Polynesia

from the July, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Undercurrent:

I have a booking in August 2018 aboard the Lindblad Orion in French Polynesia, including Fakarava and the Southern Line Islands and more. Diving will be offered, and I will need to get myself up to speed before I go. They require the PADI refresher course for those who have not been diving recently, which I will happily do. It has been well over 20 years since I dived. Here's my question: all the info from your fine readers tends to be from the POV of experienced divers, but I need to find a destination with a good PADI facility which will give me some quality personal attention.

Any thoughts? I'm planning on taking a week next April, within an easy flight from NYC. I have thought perhaps Saba. I think a smaller destination would be better than a big-time operation. I am fully confident that my skills will return quickly. In my active diving years, I had excellent buoyancy control and was very efficient on my air consumption. While Hawaii would be a slog in terms of travel, I do have siblings on the West Coast, so could include a visit there, but heading South probably makes more sense. Being a bit out of the scene for so long leaves me a little unclear on my best options.

- Fred Kolo (NYC)

Fakarava has serious currents, so it's no place for nervous, inexperienced, or out-of-practice divers. I suggest you spend time somewhere in the Caribbean or Florida, first getting your diving up to speed, and then go somewhere where there are currents (but not so serious) such as Cozumel, so you get used to diving in moving water, long before you get to French Polynesia. If you can't make two trips, make a single long trip to Cozumel, starting off easy. There are plenty of guides there to work one-on-one with you, which you'll find in our reader reports. If you go to Hawaii, make it Maui, where you can find strong surge at Lanai and drift diving the backside of Molokini, at the Oval Office, and elsewhere. Try Lahaina Divers or Mike Severns. (For a taste of what to expect in French Polynesia, read the accompanying article. Top Dive is the primary operation throughout islands.)

-- john@undercurrent.org

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