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Avatoru pass is not as famous as its mythic neighbor Tiputa, but drift snorkeling is also possible -and great!) there. A boat drops you at the channel entrance and lets you drift along with the current down to the inner lagoon. In the meantime, you’ll feast your eyes on the rich underwater life: if you’re lucky enough you will spot sharks, rays and turtles from the surface of the sea.

The Avatoru Pass, Rangiroa
The Avatoru Pass, Rangiroa.

How to go snorkeling in the Avatoru Pass?

The pass is located next to Avatoru village, at the western tip of Rangiroa Atoll’s main inhabited Motu. Booking a boat tour is the only safe way to snorkel here. Several local operators offer tours including 2 or 3 drift snorkels in the pass (2h, €40 to 50 per person including hotel pick-up).

Another option is to book a day tour to the Blue Lagoon: most of them leave from Avatoru pontoon, near the pass, and often include one drift snorkeling in Avatoru Pass, usually in the morning, before heading to their final destination. Make sure of that when booking.

The experience is quite impressive: drift snorkel means you will be carried away, taken by a moderate current over an important depth. As a consequence, it is not to be undertaken by young children or debutant swimmers. Do not consider snorkeling this location without a guide.

Water entrance for snorkeling the Avatoru Pass

Once your boat is in the pass, you will enter the water directly from it. A guide will stay with you all the way down to the pick-up point.

Avatoru Pass snorkeling tips and recommendations

You will enjoy observing the underwater world all along your journey from the pass entrance to the inner lagoon. After letting you jump in the water, your boat will follow you at a distance and ultimately pick you up at the pass exit in Rangiroa lagoon.

Manta ray in the Avatoru Pass
Manta ray encounters are frequent in the pass.

The central part of the pass is fairly deep (↕100 to 115 ft/30 to 35 m), but gets shallower as you approach Motu Fara, the motu splitting the pass on the inner lagoon side (↕12-30ft/4-10 m).

Deep areas are best for spotting sharks (mainly blacktip reef sharks), rays (including majestic manta rays) and green sea turtles. Just like in Tiputa Pass, luck can change everything in this spot. Just a few minutes apart, two groups of snorkelers can have totally different experiences and spot many species or just a few.

Coral in the Avatoru Pass
The hard coral reefs edging the two sides of the pass offer more usual snorkeling depths.

Snorkeling is more “classic” along the pass shores and around the motu (↕5-10ft/1,5-3m). Some areas are covered with corals sheltering numerous fish, including triggerfish, trevallies and surgeonfish.

A tour to the Avatoru Pass generally includes 2 to 3 drifts, which should be enough to explore both the center and the edges of the channel. If you take part in an excursion to the Blue Lagoon, you will most likely have to settle for only one drift.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

Several snacks and restaurants are settled around the pontoon and in Avatoru village. Opening times may vary, consider inquiring about it in advance.


  • Level required Advanced
  • Maximum depth65ft/20m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsTour price
  • 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.