Scuba diving in the Tahitian Islands offers divers a rare treat, and Bora Bora’s offerings are some of the most dazzling. Due to the strikingly clear water and impressive coral reefs, the lagoon and waters around this tiny caldera teem with large and exciting marine life all year long. Part of French Polynesia, Bora Bora boasts an aquatic-centered tourist experience that is unique, even among other islands known for snorkeling and diving.
The next time you pack your scuba gear for a diving vacation, book a luxury resort on Bora Bora. From sea turtles and humpback whales to 16 different species of shark and schools of manta rays so large you’ll think the ocean was made out of them, the marine life around the island is a diver’s dream. Diving in and around Bora Bora can be basically broken up into two main categories: lagoon dives and ocean dives. If you’re more of a novice diver, the lagoon offers plenty of great dives and sea creatures with less risk than open-ocean diving. If you’re a more experienced diver, you’re going to love what’s waiting for you out in the big, blue, wide-open spaces around the island’s barrier reef.
Here are some of the best spots and creatures you’ll see once you’re in the water:
The Lagoonarium is an outdoor aquarium and enclosed breeding haven for the vast variety of marine life of Bora Bora. If you’re a new diver, this lagoon dive is simple and stunning, and should you just want an easy and memorable snorkeling experience, The Lagoonarium is perfect for that as well. You’ll see all kinds of sea creatures from turtles to sharks to sting rays and brightly colored fish. It’s illegal for manta rays and humpback whales to be held in captivity, so if you want to see them, you’ll have to brave the open water.
This lagoon dive ranges from 15 to 100 feet. Called “Manta Ray Channel” and “Manta Ballroom,” Anau offers a great opportunity to see a swarm of manta rays. As the fish that boasts the largest brain, there is still much that is unknown about the manta ray, but seeing over 30 of these giant beasts at one time — they can reach up to 20 feet in diameter — will more than catch your breath.
Another lagoon dive that ranges between 15 and 100 feet, Toopua features stunning coral walls that attract all sorts of fascinating marine life. There are also small caves and eerie swim-throughs at this site, and you’ll probably spy large groups of eagle rays, as well as some giant clams, which can get as large as 440 pounds and almost 50 inches across. Giant clams have beautiful colored mantles — no two are alike — that they extend and keep open during the daylight hours so the symbiotic algae that live inside them can photosynthesize. It’s truly a striking sight.
This ocean dive goes from 30 to 120 feet and features a bevy of sharks like the black tip reef shark and the lemon shark. You’ll also see rainbow jack fish, giant wrasse and moray eels. While it may be tempting to feed the eels — they are usually docile and shy around humans — it may be wise to avoid doing so. Moray eels rely on their keen sense of smell when it comes to eating, and they have markedly poor eyesight. Divers have lost knuckles to an eel that probably just couldn’t differentiate between what was a finger and what was food.
Ranging from 60 to 120 feet, this ocean dive is also known as the “White Valley,” and the marine life you are likely to see here is quite diverse. Dolphins, barracuda, grey reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, turtles and more make regular appearances in this area.
This ocean dive features a steep drop-off and ranges from 20 feet all the way to 150 feet. Blue and red branching coral adorns this dive, and you can see orange and green sponges throughout the dive’s multiple caves, tunnels and impressive swim-throughs. If you’re here in August and September, there’s a good chance you’ll see humpback whales.
Scuba diving in Bora Bora is the opportunity of a diver’s lifetime, featuring flora and fauna that seem to originate from another planet. From its stunning coral to the sharks, rays, dolphins and more that regularly traverse its waters, this island paradise must be experienced to be believed.
About the Author: Joseph Banes is a contributing writer and diving instructor. Image by Zanthia from Flickr’s Creative Commons