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Dive Review of Top Dive/Maitai Dream Fakarava in
French Polynesia/Fakarava

Top Dive/Maitai Dream Fakarava, May, 2008,

by jeff thornton, ca, United States ( 1 report). Report 4123.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Fiji, Hawaii, Cabo, Wakatobi, Lighthouse Reef, Turneff, Bali, Great Barrior Reef, So. Calif.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 82 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth, Location, Stay with group during drift for pick up
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We arrived via Air Tahiti from Papeete to the small Fakarava landing strip without the hassles of big airports, and within 30 minutes of landing, we had our bags and were on our transport to Le Maitai Dream Hotel. The hotel caters to a varied clientele,and we would guess only 25% of its guests were divers on our stay (we were outnumbered by honeymooners with Euro bank accounts); so the English/French divers were arranged with a native speaking dive master. We were briefed on the diving and told if the wind continued, they would not be able to bring the dive boat to the house dock, and we would have to relocate boarding at the airport. When morning arrived the trades had resumed and we could actually see the bottom, and happy to see we were loading from the dock. We dove 6 dives for 3 days, and all dives were on the Garuae Pass, an easy 30 minute ride on a comfortable 30 foot Atea that seats up to 14 divers. We had dives ranging from 4 divers up to 12. For the larger groups we were divided up by language and we had two dive masters with two different drop off and pick up sites, so our dives were limited to 4 divers. We saw up to 3 zodiacs in our drop off zones with other groups of divers but the impact was not felt,especially since there are several canyons to drift on the pass dive. The first dive of the day was either on the left or right elbow of the inside of the pass, which was a gentle (not a steep wall) slopping reef that was absolutely beautiful. It was a challenge to see it all: we had small critters in the reef systems, large schools of snappers hanging off the ledge of the reef, and sharks and manta rays out in the blue of the pass. Our profile was always the same: drift over the reef, while leveling off on the wall at 70 to 80 feet keeping a keen eye to the open blue of the pass and above. We would swim to a sandy rubble field where schools of baracuda,sharks and passing tuna would drift by, and return along the same wall, back to our boat inside the lagoon. In contrast to all other dive operations, the second dive of the day was our deepest dive since the incoming current swept into the lagoon for the after noon dive.(We suspect they do not like morning dives in the pass with a open water pick up) On these dives, we would back roll outside the lagoon and quickly descend into the current down to 115 to 140 feet. When the wall came into view we would grab hold of a rock and position ourselves for a 5 to 8 minute show of hundreds of silver tip, black tip, and grey sharks. This current RIPS, we have seen currents in Indonesia... but this one is a speedway. On one dive, our DM broke away from the plan to descend to 115 ft to 145 feet to get a better view of a couple of 200 to 400 lb Groupers. Quickly our alloted time passed, and depending on the current, we would climb up the wall hand over hand on the reef until we reached 80 feet and were swept by the current into a series of canyons at 65 feet that held huge schools of fish hiding from the current. We ultimately drifted into one sand bottomed canyon that protect us from the current to some extent, and we would be entertained watching large groupings of snapper and sharks swimming in the current above. It was important for all divers to stay at the same depths since the current's intensity varied at different depths; you do not want to be 2 to 5 feet above your dive buddy, or you will zip past them and will find it hard to catch up. 45-50 minutes after we entered the water, we drifted into the lagoon for a simple pick up on two latters. Several dive computers flagged Deco times ranging from 0 to 9 minutes, and the saftey stop consisited of drifting together deeper into the lagoon for a pick up. Mathias Michel is the manager and DM. He is a happy DM, who enjoys his work and speaks a fair amount of english that is harder to understand with the wind and engine noise. There is another DM who is French who was less attentive and he seemed happier working with French speaking divers; unexplicably he came to the aid of one diver on a dive who did not appear to be having problem, and gave her take his backup regualtor. After the dive she had no idea why he took this action; he told me later, in sign laguage, he thought she had a problem with her regulator. Mathias assumes most divers know what they are doing and tends to let divers alone. Divers not used to swift currents should take caution, as surge and currents are unpredictable. Most divers will have to rely on dive computers since DECO limits are met with the deep dives for athe second dive. All divers used 100 cc tanks due hard breathing due to current and potential for DECO Time. Compared to other DM's at diver focused resorts, Mathias is rather cavalier, and BCs' and regulators were tossed around a bit too much for our liking on deck. Top Dive is based at the hotel and will keep your gear on the dive boat; cleaning and replacing tanks between dives. I rank this site as phenonomal experience and a great example of a healthy eco system of a South Pacific Atoll/pass.

The Maitai is a very well run and serviced Hotel with good food and wine choices. Our Bungalow was large and comfortable and we would defintely come back again.
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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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