Unlike the “high islands” of Tahiti or Moorea, the Tuamotu atolls are flat, ringed with white sands and shaded with coconut palms. The archipelago is a diving mecca, world-renowned for diving with sharks (10 shark species are commonly spotted in Rangiroa), but also with other big species as manta rays or dolphins.
The Tuamotu are not a destination for shore snorkeling, although it is decent in some places, as off the shore of the Kia Ora Resort in Rangiroa. To reach the best spots, you will have to plan excursions to remote reefs and motus located in the immense lagoons.
The most popular tour in Rangiroa is the Blue Lagoon (a lagoon within a lagoon, with incredibly blue waters), where you can snorkel with blacktip and lemon sharks above a sandy seabed (1-hour boat trip from Avatoru). If you prefer reef snorkeling, the Aquarium, just 5 minutes by boat from Avatoru and Tiputa piers, is one of the best –and most accessible- options.
The Tuamotu are the perfect place to enjoy a drift snorkeling through one of the passes, these narrow cuts in the atolls (the most popular being the Tiputa Pass, in Rangiroa), letting the swift current carry you amongst the fish and corals. Avatoru Pass in Rangiroa or the south pass of Fakarava (Tumakohua, also known as Tetamanu), are also great drift snorkeling options.
If you dream about encountering manta rays, then head to Tikehau atoll. In the “Pearl Farm”, island’s most famous snorkeling spot, you will encounter manta rays that come to this cleaning station to be scoured of parasites by little cleaner wrasses, in less than 10 meters of water.
There is no really high or low season to go snorkeling in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Lying just below the equator, the islands are warm and mostly sunny all year-round, tempered by a steady sea breeze. There is significant rainfall throughout the year on the atolls. The warmer and rainiest season runs from November to April, while the weather is at cooler and drier between May and October. This is the best time to visit the archipelago.
More than 220 spots have already been published on Snorkeling Report, but there are still many spots to be added! You too can contribute to populate the map by sharing your favorite snorkeling spots around the world. The more snorkelers will contribute, the easier it will be for you, and other snorkelers, to find sites and enjoy the underwater world!
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You can’t miss them at the Blue Lagoon; frequently sighted at Tiputa Pass and Avatoru Pass
Common in the deeper areas of the Blue Lagoon
Regularly observed while drift snorkeling the Tiputa Pass and Avatoru Pass
On reef spots, in particular at The Aquarium
On reef spots, particularly at The Aquarium
On all reef spots
Coral reef with a vibrant marine life
Drift snorkeling in a deep pass visited by sharks, rays and dolphins
Shallow reef and deep pass with sharks and Maori wrasse
Drop-off with blacktip and lemon sharks
Drift snorkeling in a deep pass visited by sharks, rays and turtles
Steep drop off with coral, reef fish and sharks
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