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

TOPdive/Kia Ora: "Wonderful diving with dolphins!", Sep, 2018,

by Stephanie Knott, CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 10742 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 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We did 18 dives with Top Dive (excellent organization), which was on the premises of our hotel, the Kia Ora. We dove the Tiputa Pass if the current was flowing into the lagoon and otherwise stayed just outside the pass. (The visibility is very poor if the current is outgoing.) We were usually dropped off (back roll) in the deep offshore blue water, where we would often hang at about 60-70 feet and wait for big stuff to show up. The water was a magnificent blue. We didn’t spend too much time near the reef, except when diving in the pass, which was a fast drift unless we dipped down into a depression and held on.

On about half of our dives, we had close encounters with dolphins. Sometimes a small group (up to five) would just check us out, but some of them would come within three feet of divers and hang vertically and wait to have their bellies rubbed! Our policy is not to touch reefs or sea creatures, but these dolphins really initiated the contact. We also saw lots of black-tip reef sharks: down at 90 feet, we saw hundreds schooling at depth (130 feet or so) below us. We also saw a silky tip and a hammerhead; others saw a tiger shark. Other sightings included a few mantas and spotted eagle rays. The reef wasn’t particularly interesting, and I don’t remember many small tropicals (which I usually catalog extensively but didn't pay much attention to on this trip), although there were schools of good-sized humpback snappers, fusiliers, barracuda (great and big eye), and bannerfish. Saw four-foot Napoleon wrasses.

Top Dive uses nitrox (32%) for all divers, even those without nitrox certification. We never approached the 132 foot critical depth. We had our own gear, but Top Dive provided to others what looked to be excellent equipment—wetsuits, BCDs, dive computers—at no extra charge. Most of the dive guides were extremely experienced and excellent: knew the reef, how to negotiate the currents, and pointed out interesting things. We received comprehensive dive briefings. Rides to the dive sites (only two different drop-off points for all our dives) were about 8 minutes long, and dives lasted 45 to 60 minutes. There were no dedicated place or rinse buckets for cameras on the boat, but the crew took good care of them. TopDive offered a 30% discount on multiple (20) dives (shared between two divers) purchased in advance, with additional dives at 20% off per dive.

We stayed in the Kia Ora, the nicest hotel on the atoll. We booked a pool villa, which is large and lovely (comfortable bed, lots of storage space, clean, good shower, plenty of hot water, good lighting, plunge pool) but without an ocean view. It is also closer than other rooms to the roosters next door, which kept one of us up. There are also some roosters wandering around the property, however, and they crow at all hours. Internet is terribly slow (0.26 mbps).

The on-site restaurant is very nice and quiet, with friendly service, although the water could have come more quickly. The food was fairly good (particularly the breakfasts), although it generally looked better than it tasted (nice plating). The food is more expensive than most vacation spots, but there is no tax or tip, and everything has to be shipped in (once per week). We made the mistake of paying in advance for three-course dinners (about $80) and discovered that even if ordering the most expensive appetizer, main and dessert, one couldn’t pay more than $77. Our usual dinners would have cost around $60. (All prices USD.) We recommend Café Rio, a small, very casual restaurant a mile or two from the hotel. The owner will pick you up and take you back to the hotel. Portions are large and prices reasonable. See our Trip Advisor September 24, 2018 review for the Kia Ora for more details about the hotel and restaurant.
Websites TOPdive   Kia Ora

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Papua New Guinea, Sulawesi, Fiji, Cook Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef, Little Caymen, Cozumel, Belize, Saba, Baja, California, Hawaii
Closest Airport Rangiroa Getting There LAX to Tahiti and then a 1-hour flight to Rangiroa

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm, choppy, currents
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 50-80 Ft/ 15-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Dove with small group; usually above 100 ft
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No camera facilities on boat or at shop, but since we were staying at the hotel where the dive boat picked us up, that wasn't a problem. Crew was careful with gear.
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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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