The Tiputa Pass (one of the only two passes in the atoll of Rangiroa, with the Avatoru Pass) is a mythical diving spot, world-renowned for its countless dolphins, hammerhead sharks and Manta rays. If the Tiputa pass is above all a scuba diving spot, it can also be explored from the surface of the sea doing a drift snorkeling. In drift snorkeling, you allow the gentle currents to carry you across the water of the pass. This activity is only possible when the sea is calm and with incoming current (from the open sea towards the inner part of the atoll). For safety reasons, this exploration must be performed with a guide.

Drift snorkeling in Tiputa Pass aerial viex

How to get there?

The Tiputa pass is located between the villages of Tiputa and Avatoru, which are the main inhabited areas of Rangiroa. Two viewpoints has been created on both sides of the pass, and are worth the detour when the current is outgoing: dolphins come jump and play in the waves, a few tens of meters from the shore.

To explore the pass in snorkeling, you will have the choice between several tour organizers on the atoll. The prices ranges from 30 to 40 euros per person, for a tour of about 2 hours. Check with your hotel or your guesthouse, which will make the booking for you.

The boats leave Avatoru and Tiputa villages, and join the pass in a few minutes of navigation.

Because of the current and the depth of the past, drift snorkeling –rather impressive– is not recommended if you are not a strong swimmer. Most of tours will allow you to drift 2 or 3 times in the pass, going up on the boat and back at the entrance of the pass in the meantime. It is also possible, once inside the atoll, to let you drift to a nice patch reef (known as “The Aquarium” or “motu nui nui”-see map), which is a superb coral reef leaning on a motu.

Do not attempt to explore this spot without being accompanied by a guide.

The Tiputa Pass snorkeling map, Rangiroa

Water entrance

Once the boat will be positioned at the entrance to the pass, your guide will tell you when you can jump in the water. The guide will remain at your side in the water, throughout the ride.

Exploration

The exploration of the Tiputa pass consists in letting yourself drift by the current, between the entrance of the pass and the inner part of the lagoon. The boat will then pick you up at the exit of the pass.

The area offers a high probability of viewing big fish, but the sightings are uncertain.

Coral reef in the Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa

The blacktip sharks, gushing over the seabed, are part of the most commonly observed species. Other species of sharks (grey reef shark, tiger shark, and hammerhead shark), Manta rays, eagle rays, Napoleon fish and turtles are regularly found in the pass, just like the common bottlenose dolphins, who visit it on a daily basis. The luck factor is very important on this spot. A few minutes apart, two groups of snorkelers can live very different experiences (sometimes without any sight).

Unicornfish in the Tiputa Pass - Rangiroa snorkeling

The edges of the pass are covered with hard coral, and are the home to a varied reef life. You will see groups of black triggerfish, schools of jacks, several species of surgeonfish (including the colorful achilles tang), and butterflyfish.

Restaurants and accommodation

You will find 2 or 3 snacks and restaurants in Avatoru and Tiputa, located near the piers, but the opening hours are reduced, especially at lunch time (do not arrive after 2pm).

  • Level required Advanced
  • Maximum depth100ft/30m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a boat
  • Potential DangersCurrent
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (from $30pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are only recommended to good swimmers, in good physical conditions, and with excellent snorkeling skills. These spots can experience currents, moderate waves, important depths, tight or narrow passages, or tricky water entrance, and can be located near hazardous areas (channels, boat traffic, strong currents…). The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas can be important - up to 500 meters. The “advanced” category includes drift snorkeling (transported by currents) and snorkeling off the coast.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell.You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.