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Maupiti’s “Fausse Passe” (false pass) is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. By snorkeling in the pass, drifting with the light incoming current, you will be able to observe coral beds and a large variety of tropical fish.

Doublesaddle butterflyfish at Maupiti
Double-saddle butterflyfish are found in large schools in the pass.

How to get to the “Fausse Passe” snorkeling spot

“Fausse Passe” is the name given the two passages located between the motus north of Maupiti. Unlike a “real” pass, these two passages are very shallow and do not cut the reef. It is therefore not possible to enter the lagoon from the open sea using these passages, hence the name “false pass”.

The snorkeling spot is located in the narrower of the two passages, which splits Motu Pae’ao and Motu Tuanai (see map below). To snorkel the Fausse Passe, ask your pension about the available boat trips.

Fausse Passe de Maupiti snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling the “Fausse Passe”

The Fausse Passe is crossed by a light incoming current and is explored in drift snorkeling. After getting into the water at the pass entrance (open seaside, north), you will let yourself be carried by the current, contemplating the seabed until the pass exit (lagoon side, south). In any case, follow the instructions of your guide.

Drift snorkeling in Maupiti’s false pass

On this spot, the depth varies between 1 and 10ft/0.5 and 3m. It’s the perfect water height to enjoy underwater life from the surface. In the pass, the seabed alternates between coral reefs (more or less healthy) and sandy beds.

Surge wrasse in Maupiti
Male surge wrasse are some of the most colorful fish found in French Polynesian lagoons.

A beautiful diversity of fish occur in the pass, including angelfish, triggerfish, many wrasses species and pufferfish. In some places, you will be surrounded by schools of double-saddle butterflyfish, seemingly fed by some guides.

Guineafowl puffer in Maupiti
A guineafowl puffer.

Tahaa’s Coral Garden is another famous drift snorkeling spot in the Society Islands. It has roughly the same features as Maupiti’s Fausse Passe, although narrower and shallower.

Restaurants and accommodation

Lunch on a motu is included in most day trips. Check with your pension when booking.


  • Level required Advanced
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m
  • Water entranceFrom a beach or a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price

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.