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Dive Review of Te Ava Nui/Havaiki Pension in
French Polynesia/Fakarava atoll

Te Ava Nui/Havaiki Pension, Sep, 2003,

by Laura Todd, CA, USA . Report 791.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Palau, Fiji, Tonga, Hawaii, Bahamas, Bay Islands, Sea of Cortez
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Due to very strong currents, the drift dives are a group thing, with DM signaling where and when to be. Wall dives are limited to 1 hour.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments Am not a UWP, but........... there are no accomodations on either boat or shore for photographers aside from a big set of shelves that could be used to work on cameras. The boat ride could be fatal to your camera; the driver only knows 2 speeds - full stop and full out, which means that with the slightest wind in the lagoon, both you and your camera will spend most of the 20 minute trip airborne, only occasionally crashing down into the boat.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This is the biggest pass in all of Polynesia, and I was ready for just about anything to swim up beside me. What I mostly got was sharks - the mantas, whales and hammerheads did not make an appearance. But the shark wallpaper is pretty impressive with literally dozens of blacktips (5-6'), smaller white tips and the occasional big lemon. They get really close; be sure to look behind you. We also could count on the big Napoleon wrasses, barracuda and dogtooth tuna. Not much in the way of small stuff. The coral is much nicer than say Rangiroa, in the same vicinity. The weather was beautiful and the sea was utterly flat. Be ready for the ripping current. On the last day, there was an especially nice vertical swirling bait ball of hundreds of sennet-looking fish with baby black tip sharks cruising through. Overall, the diving was good with the potential to be great. The same can't be said of the dive operation, however. There is no bathroom at the shop - guys are encouraged to pee off the dock and the back of the boat, women wherever. There are two hard bottom inflatable boats with safety gear and drinking water. The lagoon is often rougher than the ocean due to wind and the local driver is a maniac who goes at full throttle no matter what the conditions; count on getting beat up and bounced around. I found sitting down in the bottom of the boat with my back up against the stern minimally painful. They offer only 2 dives per day, one each morning and afternoon. After each, there is an inexplicable hour alotted to drinking tea and hanging around. As is typical here, they do transport you to and from your lodging. They use large steel tanks, which means most folks won't need a weight belt (very cool), but the things are sooo heavy and the staff acted like it was an imposition to have to carry them. There is a little bit of anti-French discrimination going on. Each morning the owner would give the briefing in French, adding "current more than yesterday" in English, then ask in English, "you understand?" The staff encouraged divers to hang on to and pull themselves along the coral. Now there's a bunch of Japanese beginners who think that's how it's supposed to go. There was also the constant promise of a day trip to dive and picnic around some uninhabited motus that never materialized. The owner did choose to take a group of (mostly) beginners whose skill level he had no idea about (it became clear) to one of those shallow crevice/tunnel type sites with skylights, etc. that can be quite pretty. However, even in calm seas the surge put this site completely beyond this group. One person repeatedly hit her head on the ceiling of the tunnels, and everybody crashed into something or somebody at least once. The owner led this bunch into more than one dead end and pointed out absolutely nothing. I found a nudibranch, some cool shells and a few little sharks on my own.

If Havaiki were to add a solar hot water heater, they would easily be the best small pension in all of Polynesia. The setting is exquisite on a small white sand beach. Your bungalow is within arm's reach of the gorgeous turquoise water. The fabulous view faces the pass and the sunset. Each bungalow has a small and large bed, porch, private cold water bath and is simply but lovingly decorated. We had no bug problems but mosquito nets are provided. Kayaks and bikes are free to guests. Snorkeling right out the door is decent. There are nice touches like a drying rack on each porch. I could go on for days about the food: whole mahi mahi, roast lamb, fresh parrot fish, all with exquisite sauces, pasta carbonara, homemade soup, each meal better than the last. Desserts were on the simple side. Clothilde and Joachim run a pearl farm and will let you watch whatever process is underway. When we were there, they had tons of "D" quality pearls for $6 each, and good prices on very high quality ones, but not much to choose from in the middle. Night life consists of the sunset accompanied by Clothilde's potent rum punch. Word to the wise: rinse off your beach chair first thing - thier adorable boxer "Cassis" is a sweetie but has the unfortunate habit of peeing on them.
Re getting there: Don't take the weekly Hawaiian Air flight from Honolulu. They stranded us for FOUR DAYS on the return. On day #2, they actually woke up a planeful of people at 2am, put them on the aircraft for a 5am "departure" only to announce that the part was not yet in Tahiti and probably wouldn't be for two more days!! I got my self out of there on the next Air Tahiti Nui flight (night flights meant I was only awake for 48 hours unlike alot of my fellow strandees) and am eagerly awaiting the many first class round trip tickets Hawaiian is no doubt busily printing.
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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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