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Dive Review of French Polynesia Master Liveaboard in
French Polynesia/Tuamotu Archipelago

French Polynesia Master Liveaboard: "10 Days Diving The Tuamotu Archipelago", Nov, 2017,

by SY, London, GB ( 2 reports with 6 Helpful votes). Report 9966 has 4 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I put this trip together c. 5 weeks before departure and needed to ensure availability of international and internal flight in order to make my dates - this was all successful.

Brand name hotel accommodation in Tahiti is expensive and can be limited - with such short notice it was touch and go in finding reasonable priced accommodation. I arrived in Tahiti a day early and stayed at a very acceptable B&B about 15 minutes walk from Papeete centre. Post liveaboard, I returned to Tahiti for a few days on land (undertook a few land excurisons - one of which takes you into the mountains for the day) and stayed at hotel which though well appointed was rather pricey and not convenient for getting into Papeete. Note: Tahiti is relatively expensive - hotel dinner c.£70 for 3 courses, a pizza at a food truck c.£20. Private transfer c.£15-20 for a short journey - best to book a private transfer as taxis are more expensive or hire a car.

Given the time of year I went, I could have undertaken a shore based dive to see tiger sharks and also gone whale watching but given my short trip prep timescale I failed to organise such additional excursions, but as I'd just done 10 days on the liveaboard, I was not too miffed and also i was advised that it would be rare to see more than 2 tiger sharks on a dive.

The liveaboard:

French Polynesia Master - a relatively new boat, launched c.11.2016. Large, spacious but the top sun deck had no shade (was being addressed) and would be uncomfortable during the hot day or on windy days. I was in an above deck cabin ()only one left when I booked) which was priced at a premium, however, cabins below deck were about 50% larger.

Cabin was though comfortable, boat is well stocked with meds and spare (new gear) available for purchase or hire, food is usual western orientated fare, served buffet style with lots of fresh fruit and viennoise everyday.

There are lost of international power points with integrated USB sockets. Some point placement was illogical - required really long power cables. Storage outside cabin was plentiful with a large wall of drawers with locks in the saloon area and also out in the camera area.

Boarded boat in Tahiti followed by a days sailing in relatively rough seas to checkout dive location. The boat usually starts from Rangiroa but was in Tahiti for a regular inspection. Trip ended in Fakarava so an internal flight out the next afternoon to Tahiti.

Diving is from RIBS of which there were 2 med size and 1 large (RIBs all relatively new with great engines) with 4 dive guides so dive groups were small and RIBs provided adequate room but if you're not fit enough to haul yourself out of the water into a RIB there could be a problem; available ladders only included one open-ended.

Negative entries were required when the current was running hard. Underwater, some stiff currents encountered but nothing as bad Cocos or Malpelo though I understand that at different times the current can be challenging. Water temperature was generally in the 27 degree celsius range. I dived with a 3 mm full wetsuit and a 4th element thermocline short sleeve vest and was comfortable enough.

There were generally 3 dives during the day with a night dive on offer on c. 3 nights.

It was rather annoying to end the trip by diving the Tetamanu Pass, Fakarava 9 times over c. 2 days. It is a great site for seeing the sharks and mantas and rays riding the in-coming / out-going currents but still 1 day diving the site through the day to catch each current flow would I think have been sufficient and another site could have been dived.

With 4 dive guides dive groups were small with groups reasonably well separated. Dive briefings were comprehensive. However, my particular dive guide (a European) was not amongst the best with whom I have dived (raced ahead, was rushed when there was no need, sometimes wasn't focused on the job, didn't care if he broke off the healthy hard coral, encouraged touching the animals, got in the way of filming) but hey you get used to these things. I was not too pleased though to see touchning of the animals was not discouraged (as at other locations I have dived) and some divers really didn't practice good dive etiquette but hey you get used to these things.

Note: the dive guides apart from chief guide are seemingly all on short-term 6 month contracts so you may be with a guide who is new to the region and spends the trip getting to know the sites (the new guide and his / her group dives with a more experienced guide and his / her group from the large RIB so that "mass" could be quite crowded)

Cyclinders are luxfer 80 cu ft c.11 litres / luxfer 100s were also available. Nitrox is extra. Refills were very quick and crew were happy to top up cyclinders to c.215-20 bar.

Corals: primarily a hard coral area with only one soft coral - anemone seen.

Dived c. 10 separate sites with the entry the first time in Rangiora being a standout - dropped down onto a solo hammerhead and then moved onto a wall of blacktip and silvertip sharks, dolphins, mantas and eagle rays.

All in all the trip, my first in the area, was well worth it. The weather was great though we did end the trip with cooler days and rain on the last dive day (but gear was put into the engine room to dry out). There were a range of dive sites with good animal interactions, but more variety could I believe still be added. Boat crew were great and very affable.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Oct 2017: Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia
June 2017: Cayman Islands
Mar 2017: Southern Red Sea
Jul 2016: Malpelos
Feb 2016: Maldives
there's more globally but it'll just go on and on..
Closest Airport Papeete, Tahiti Getting There London (Air NZ) to LAX; LAX (Air Tahiti) to Tahiti. Fakarava internal flight back to Tahiti post liveaboard trip. No difficulties with international flights or internal flight but spaces on internal flight can be limited and no flights out on Thurs from Fakarava with min 2 night stay

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, dry Seas choppy, currents, no currents
Water Temp 25-27°C / 77-81°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 10-25 M / 33-82 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth was limited to 29 metres and apparently dive guides are legally liable if authorities (who do check the logs) find breaches in dive profile. All guides are led. As long as withing sight of guide, own profile could be managed within reason.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments large fresh water rinse tanks. Dedicated camera area with air hose. Lots of power points which incorporated USB sockets. Lots of drawer storage in camera area and inside saloon.
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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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