Shark experience in South Passage – French Polynesia
Aquatiki II liveaboard with sharks below

It is easy to say that French Polynesia is exactly how you would imagine it to be. A remote tropical paradise. As you fly into Tahiti over the island’s fringing reefs and lagoons, you can see why it is so rich in marine biodiversty. The scenery of the big volcano in the background with lush greens making their way down to the blues of the ocean, is exactly like you see on the postcards. This is definitely one of my favourite trips we offer at Snorkel Venture. I love the remoteness of being out in the middle of the Pacific on a big catamaran, cruising the atolls. I first really started to hear about the Atoll Fakarava on the BBC documentary The Blue Planet with David Attenborough. It was famed for its wall of sharks in the passages. The passages are the gaps that lead to the open ocean, allowing water to flow through the atoll.

Taking a short flight from Tahiti we headed to Fakarava. Passing over pristine reefs and atolls. Once landed we were greeted by locals at the airport and adorned with beautiful flower necklaces. A traditional way of greeting and welcoming people to the islands. Jumping on board our boat the Aqua Tiki ii we wasted no time and set sail South towards the South Passage. A 4 cabin catamaran with a large galley and spacious deck area. Made the perfect setting for our first sunset cocktails and briefings on the boat. For me personally sleeping on yachts is the best night’s sleep. The sound of the ocean and gentle rock of the boat, is a great combination for a perfect night’s sleep. Especially when inside the atoll. 

With an early start and short sail we had arrived at the famed South Passage. With us being the only boat down there and a very small resort opposite, it really added to the remote tropical feeling. As soon as the boat moored up we started to see some shark activity. With black tips, white tips and the grey reef sharks. We started off our first snorkel in the reef around the boat. Just to get used to being with the sharks and make sure all the guests were comfortable. Here we had big napoleon wrasse, groupers, and all the usual small reef fish you would expect to find. But what I was not expecting was just the amount of sharks. Until then I had never seen as many sharks in one place. 

With the first snorkel under our belts it was time to make our way out onto the passage. We had been given clear instructions on how the snorkel should be and how we should behave in the water. With everyone ready we jumped in starting on an abundant sloping coral reef. Full of different coloured species of schooling fish. With a gentle current pushing us along the top reef. Sharks were already starting to appear gliding over the top reef. Tom, our guide from the Aqua tiki ii, started to take us off the reef and into the passage. Within a few metres off the reef and a depth of 15 – 20 metres you could start to witness the wall of sharks. 

With crystal clear water you could see in the channel from top to bottom, it was full of sharks. All predominantly grey reef sharks. The sharks were just hovering almost motionless in the current. You could see a shiver of sharks with 30-40 then the same again just further on and the same again and again. We could duck dive down and really see the wall. Was truly a sight to behold. I have never seen sharks in those numbers before or since. Was by far one of my best shark experiences I have ever had. Finally after so long of wanting to see the wall of sharks, my group and I were amongst them. We would spend the next day and a half exploring the South Passage and the endless beaches surrounding the inner atoll. Which was a perfect nursery for the baby sharks. Snorkelling in French Polynesia was definitely a highlight in my snorkelling career. The boat would sail us around the outer edge of the Fakarava atoll and on to the next atoll for the next 7 days. Visiting possibly some of the most remote reefs in the world with huge amounts of fish and sharks. 

About Author

Marcus Blake
Marcus joined the Snorkel Venture team in 2021. Prior to that for five years was managing dive and snorkel operations at Komodo Resort in Indonesia. He has been fortunate enough to have worked and travelled to some of the best snorkel locations in the world. Giving him a wealth of experience and knowledge of the oceans.