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

Raie Manta/Ariana Pension, Sep, 2003,

by Laura Todd, CA, USA . Report 842.

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

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy, noCurrents
Water Temp 74 to 78 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Snorkeling only - contact with whales regulated
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales >2
Corals 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
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations 2 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments 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 professional.

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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