Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Vaiava Beach (Plage Vaiava, commonly called “PK18”) is the most famous beach on Tahiti’s west coast. Very popular with both tourists and locals for its white sand and calm waters, it is very busy, especially on weekends. Opposite the beach is a superb lagoon dotted with coral patches around which you can see many colorful fish, such as parrotfish, butterflyfish and damselfish.
Plage Vaiava is located in Punaauia, a small coastal town in the west of the island of Tahiti. It is also called “PK18”, because it is located just in front of the milestone 18 (its distance in kilometers from Papeete).
From the center of Papeete, follow the direction of Punaauia then Paea/Taravao for about 18km. The beach is well signposted on the right. Free parking is available near the beach.
Gear up and get into the water from the sandy beach.
The lagoon facing Plage Vaiava is nearly 500m wide. However, we advise you to stay within a 200m long strip along the beach, which allows very beautiful underwater observations without getting too far away from shore.
In the lagoon, the seabed is sandy, dotted with many coral patches and coral bommies (↕3-6ft/1-2m). The main coral types found in the lagoon are massive coral and finger coral, in varying conditions.
PK18 lagoon allows snorkelers to observe a wide variety of reef fish. Butterflyfish (ornate butterflyfish, speckled butterflyfish, threadfin butterflyfish, double-saddle butterflyfish), sixbar wrasse, damselfish and convict tang (often seen in large shoals) are some of the most common here.
During your snorkeling, you may also encounter trumpetfish, pufferfish, parrotfish and goatfish. If you take a look around the coral, you may also find some pretty cushion starfish.
There are often trailers near the beach. Several pensions are found nearby.
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.
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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.
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