Located in Fakarava Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Tumakohua Pass is famous for its “wall of sharks”, which attracts scuba divers from all over the world. For snorkelers, it is also a beautiful site to discover, both in the pass (which can be explored in drift snorkeling) and on the reef flat (which can be snorkeled freely from the island shore). In the area, you will discover coral reefs inhabited by Napoleon wrasse, blacktip reef sharks, and a myriad of colorful fish.

Snorkeling the Tumakohua Pass, Fakarava

How to get there?

Tumakohua Pass and Tetamanu Island are located south of Fakarava Atoll, about 1h30-2h by boat from Rotoava and the airport. To visit Tetamanu, you can book a stay in one of the island’s guesthouses (Tetamanu Village, Tetamanu Sauvage or Motu Aito), or make the day trip from Rotoava (from euro 100pp.). The reef flat (zone 1 on the map) can be snorkeled freely from the shore. To explore the pass (zone 2 on the map), you’ll have to book a drift snorkeling tour. Do not attempt to explore the pass without being accompanied by a guide.

Tetamanu snorkeling map, Fakarava

Water entrance

To snorkel the reef flat, water entrance is made from Tetamanu island’s shore, taking care not to step on coral. For drift snorkeling, you will enter the water from your tour boat.

Exploration

Two areas are recommended for snorkeling around Tetamanu:

  • The coral reef edging the inner shore of the atoll, between Tetamanu Island and Motu Aito (zone 1 on the map above). This area, shallow and sheltered, is suitable for beginners. Here, you’ll discover the diversity of Polynesian marine life, including several species of butterfly fish and triggerfish, parrotfish, schools of yellowfin goatfish and Moorish idol.

Maori wrasse in Tetamanu, Fakarava

  • The Tumakohua Pass, which borders Tetamanu Island’s western shore (zone 2 on the map). The exploration of the pass consists in letting yourself drift by the current, between the entrance of the pass and the inner part of the atoll. The boat will then pick you up at the exit of the pass. It is sometimes possible to spot the “shark wall” (↕20-30m) near the water entrance point, but Tetamanu snorkeler’s favorite is the Napoleon wrasse, often found in shallow areas near the piers (↕0.5-1m). Peaceful and inquisitive, swimming with this unique fish will leave you with an unforgettable memory. Between these two points, you will drift along the reef drop off which borders Tetamanu island (↕1-5m). Snappers, surgeonfish and groupers are easy to spot above the coral reef.

Coral reef on Tetamanu reef flat

Restaurants and accommodation

Three guesthouses (Tetamanu Village, Tetamanu Sauvage and Motu Aito) are set up along the reef.



 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaRéserve de Biosphère de Fakarava
  • Maximum depth100ft/30m in the pass, 18ft/6m on the reef flat
  • Water entranceFrom a beach (for snorkeling the reef flat) or from a boat (for drift snorkeling in the pass)
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsCosts of the stay on the island

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.