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Last updated on July 1, 2023
Located in Fakarava Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Tumakohua Pass is famous for its “wall of sharks.” The endless supply of food here attracts sharks and brings scuba divers from all over the world to see them. For snorkelers, it is also a beautiful site to discover, both in the pass which can be explored by 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, several species of sharks, and a myriad of colorful fish.
Tumakohua Pass and Tetamanu Island are located south of Fakarava Atoll, about an hour and a half 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 $100 pp.).
Fakarava South Pass has drift snorkeling. It is advised to enter the water only during incoming current (from the ocean to the lagoon). The dive club can inform you about current/tide times.
For drift snorkeling itinerary (itinerary 2 on the map), it is advised to enter the water from a boat, near the white buoy (water entrance 1 on the map). Ask to the dive club if they can drop you. Alternatively, you can enter the water from the shore, behind the church, but the water entrance here is tricky (from a reef flat, too shallow at low tide – water entrance 2 on the map). For shorter (and easier) drift snorkeling, enter the water from pontoon 1 (water entrance 3 on the map).
To snorkel the areas close to the resort (pontoons/”pools” areas, area 1 on the map), you can enter the water from the pontoons or from the beaches.
Two areas are recommended for snorkeling Tetamanu & Fakarava South Pass:
The “pools”, two small natural lagoons found between the jetties (zone 1 on the map), are a perfect start for beginners. Here you’ll swim with almost tamed Napoleon wrasse and dozens of blacktip reef sharks that come here to enjoy the leftovers from the restaurant. From time to time, grey sharks and whitetip sharks also come up to the flat.
Have a look under the jetties: in the shade, you’ll find huge schools of snappers, trumpetfish, groupers, moray eels, and resting Napoleons.
In the healthy coral areas at the top of the drop-off, you’ll discover the diversity of Polynesian marine life, including about 10 species of butterflyfish, triggerfish, parrotfish, schools of yellowfin goatfish, and Moorish idols.
The exploration of the pass consists of letting yourself drift with the current, but only during incoming current.
If you start from the white buoy, you will snorkel over the “shark wall” (↕65ft/20m), where about a hundred grey reef sharks patrol in the current. If you are lucky, you may spot in the blue green sea turtles, manta rays, or other species of sharks.
On the drop-offs that border the pass, you’ll spot many fish around dense and colorful corals. Local sea life includes the Napoleon wrasse, which is a Tetamanu snorkeler’s favorite sighting. Around 15 individuals, including 2 or 3 bright green terminal phase males, live around the village. Peaceful and inquisitive, swimming with this unique fish will leave you with an unforgettable memory.
You can exit the water from one of the jetties, or extend your snorkeling and drift to the yellow buoy. Be careful though, as the current gets stronger past the restaurant.
Two guesthouses, Tetamanu Village/Tetamanu Sauvage, and Motu Aito are set up along the reef.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
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.
Steep drop off with coral, reef fish and sharks
Shallow sandy lagoon with reef fish and sharks
Coral patches with colorful fish
Free shore access
Drift snorkeling in a deep pass visited by sharks, rays and dolphins
Coral reef with a vibrant marine life
Drift snorkeling in a deep pass visited by sharks, rays and turtles
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