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Last updated on October 7, 2022
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Several snacks and restaurants are settled around the pontoon and in Avatoru village. Opening times may vary, consider inquiring about it in advance.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Coral reef with a vibrant marine life
Drift snorkeling in a deep pass visited by sharks, rays and dolphins
Drop-off and shallow lagoon with blacktip and lemon sharks
Manta ray cleaning station and shallow coral reefs
Coral patches with colorful fish
Free shore access
Shallow sandy lagoon with reef fish and sharks