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Dive Review of TOPdive/Kia Ora in
French Polynesia/Rangiroa

TOPdive/Kia Ora: "Dive in Paradise", Jul, 2018,

by MAX WEINMANN, GA, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 10385 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments After a very disappointing experience with the French Polynesia Master Liveaboard, it was with tremendous trepidation that I reached Rangiroa. Had I had known what I know now, I would have forgone the liveaboard and just gone straight to Top Dive. Rangiroa is beautiful and epitomizes the Tahitian islands of paintings and tropical paradises that divers dream of.

Upon reaching their on site store in the Kia Ora Resort, I was welcomed by one of their supervisors who greeted me warmly and promptly started organizing my dive schedule. There are 4 dives per day, 7am, 10am, 2pm and 4pm. I needed some rest and chose the 10am and 2pm pathway as I really just couldn't deal with the concept of getting up early.

After a light breakfast I made my way to the dive shop and geared up. If you need any gear, they have everything you'll need ; including camera gear. Even though it was the Tahitian Winter, I was fine with my 3mm suit. There was one dive boat most of the time, but there were more available depending on the number of divers. On most days, there would be 2-3 groups of about 4-5 divers,each group accompanied by a single guide. The dives would either be on the inside or outside of the pass depending on current and time.
What struck me was that the guides were extremely friendly, knowledgeable and patient. These people didn't behave as scuba police, but rather placed a watchful eye on their group of divers. Groups were usually organized according to experience as best they could and to depth rating.

We would motor quickly to the dive site and then backward roll into the water with or without our cameras.

The guides were well acquainted with all the sites and knew exactly where to drift in order to reach the expected destinations and fish life. And we were never disappointed. We experienced dolphin, marlin, turtle,oceanic hammerhead, dozens of shark, snapper, tuna and more.

Of course, when divers witness wild dolphin, all bets are off and to hell with the depth limits as the dolphin would eagerly engage us at around 100-110 feet.Some of the dolphin became adorned with numerous divers clinging to their fins like hysterical human christmas ornaments until the dolphin became bored at which time they would shake them off and cunningly plunge deeper and continue to zoom all about us.To experience this once is the experience of a lifetime, but on almost every dive was purely amazing!

Laurent and Nicolas, our dive guides were superb in this regard. They laughed off the limits and upon the departure of the dolphin merely returned to pointing out all form of amazing underwater life. The surgeon fish were also spawning at that time creating huge clouds of fish through which were darting shark, napolean wrasse and others. When we thought it could never get any better, the dolphins would return. Of interest, they had kept divers at bay as a calf had recently been born in the pod, but with time, they grew more social as the baby matured. And lo and behold, the mother and calf skirted around us close enough to obtain some photos.

Over exuberant divers would sometimes end up on the spare reg of the guides who patiently never scolded anyone who succumbed to dolphin fever.

Overall, Laurent and Nicolas run a superb operation. They are attentive to divers needs, requests and capabilities. They're good natured hosts who are wonderful ambassadors of diving and French Polynesia, while providing experiences of a lifetime at many of the islands in a highly professional way with an experienced crew.
I cannot wait to return !
Websites TOPdive   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving New Guinea, GBR, Sea of Cortez, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, Palau
Closest Airport Rangiroa Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 80-85°F / 27-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility - Ft/ - M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Divers are limited according to qualifications ; open water divers to 20 meters, master divers 30 meters
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments The boats are rigid hull inflatables and are packed by the side of the driver or in the back. Either way, the ride is stable and extremely quick, so rinsing can wait until you're back at the store.
Drivers handle cameras sensibly and very carefully and will pass them down to you, retrieving the cameras at dive's end even before the divers.
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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By gailmorris in , at Sep 15, 2018 01:52 EST  
Divers clinging to the fins of the wild dolphins? Seriously hope you are kidding about that.
By report author: MAX WEINMANN in GA, US at Sep 15, 2018 03:20 EST  
Sadly, despite briefings strongly discouraging that type of behavior many divers demonstrated a type of deep water dolphin narcosis where the only thing of importance was to come into physical contact with the dolphin irrespective of depth, dive tables and the laws of reason. Confronting them was not met with any type of logical or meaningful response other than a distorted sense of entitlement.
By gailmorris in , at Sep 15, 2018 10:01 EST  
Unfortunately, a few years ago , I dove there with Top Dive and the dive master didn't stop a diver from grabbing a sea turtle on either side of his shell and shaking the turtle as the wife and daughter filmed it. Up top, the Dive Master told us he wasn't suppose to harass the divers.
By kevin willoh in CA, US at Jan 12, 2019 18:10 EST  
I know this is a long shot but I was wondering if there are any depth regs enforced regarding freediving? I find the 30m max scuba depth disconcerting as there are a few very deep sites there (the cavern for example).
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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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