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

Blue Dolphins Dive Center/Kia Ora, Apr, 2009,

by William Ungerman, California, USA (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 4739 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments 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 Rangiroa.

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.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, surge, currents, no currents
Water Temp 83-85°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 100-150 Ft/ 30-46 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Follow the Divemaster (sort of).
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 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
UW Photo Comments Not really oriented towards photography.
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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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