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Mahana Park is one of the best spots to explore Punaauia’s lagoon, the most extensive of Tahiti island. The beach opens up to calm, crystal clear waters that are ideal for snorkeling. Underwater, you may come across stingrays, small sharks, angelfish and dozens of other Polynesian reefs colorful species.

Coral reef snorkeling in Mahana Park, Tahiti
Some areas of the lagoon boast beautiful and healthy corals.

How to go snorkeling in Mahana Park?

Mahana Park is located in Paea, on Tahiti Nui’s West Coast, about 18km south of Papeete. There is free parking nearby. From there, walking to the beach takes a few minutes.

Mahana Park (Papehue Beach) snorkeling map

Getting into the water to snorkel in Mahana Park

Enter the water anywhere you like from the salt-and-pepper beach.

Mahana Park snorkeling tips and recommendations

You can snorkel the whole inner lagoon, but we recommend to stay in a 200m stripe along the beach.

The closest areas to the beach (↕3-6ft/1-2m) are covered with sand, rocks and seaweed patches. Coral is poor here. You will have to swim a bit to find a coral-covered seabed (↕6-12ft/2-4m).

Porcupinefish snorkeling at Mahana Park, Punaauia, Tahiti
A spotfin porcupinefish found between the corals.

Coral health is variable on this spot, but the sealife is varied and abounds from a dozen of meters from the shore. Juvenile blacktip reef sharks and spotted eagle rays like this lagoon, as well as small stingrays that often rest over sandy areas.

Many reef fish species can be seen on the coral reef area, such as the bright yellow lemonpeel angelfish, about a dozen of different butterflyfish species, parrotfishes and rather inquisitive sixbar wrasses. Look into sea anemones for orangefin anemonefish, the most common clownfish in French Polynesia.

Coral at Mahana Park, Tahiti
Different types of corals in Mahana Park’s lagoon.

Like many lagoons in Polynesia, this one is perfect for snorkeling with its calm, shallow waters. However, never try to swim past the coral reef into the open sea: strong waves and currents make the outer reef very dangerous.

This spot attracts few snorkelers, hence it is very preserved. Take part in this preservation and don’t damage corals nor leave anything behind you.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Snacks and food carts are set on the beach. If you’re looking for accommodation close to the spot, several family pensions are located inland.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth14ft/4m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersSwell, currents, stonefish, fire coral
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

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.