The Tiputa Pass (one of the only two passes in the atoll of Rangiroa, with the Avatoru Pass) is a mythical diving spot, world-renowned for its countless dolphins, hammerhead sharks and Manta rays. If the Tiputa pass is above all a scuba diving spot, it can also be explored from the surface of the sea doing a drift snorkeling. In drift snorkeling, you allow the gentle currents to carry you across the water of the pass. This activity is only possible when the sea is calm and with incoming current (from the open sea towards the inner part of the atoll). For safety reasons, this exploration must be performed with a guide.
The Tiputa pass is located between the villages of Tiputa and Avatoru, which are the main inhabited areas of Rangiroa. Two viewpoints has been created on both sides of the pass, and are worth the detour when the current is outgoing: dolphins come jump and play in the waves, a few tens of meters from the shore.
To explore the pass in snorkeling, you will have the choice between several tour organizers on the atoll. The prices ranges from 30 to 40 euros per person, for a tour of about 2 hours. Check with your hotel or your guesthouse, which will make the booking for you.
The boats leave Avatoru and Tiputa villages, and join the pass in a few minutes of navigation.
Because of the current and the depth of the past, drift snorkeling –rather impressive– is not recommended if you are not a strong swimmer. Most of tours will allow you to drift 2 or 3 times in the pass, going up on the boat and back at the entrance of the pass in the meantime. It is also possible, once inside the atoll, to let you drift to a nice patch reef (known as “The Aquarium” or “motu nui nui”-see map), which is a superb coral reef leaning on a motu.
Do not attempt to explore this spot without being accompanied by a guide.
Once the boat will be positioned at the entrance to the pass, your guide will tell you when you can jump in the water. The guide will remain at your side in the water, throughout the ride.
The exploration of the Tiputa pass consists in letting yourself drift by the current, between the entrance of the pass and the inner part of the lagoon. The boat will then pick you up at the exit of the pass.
The area offers a high probability of viewing big fish, but the sightings are uncertain.
The blacktip sharks, gushing over the seabed, are part of the most commonly observed species. Other species of sharks (grey reef shark, tiger shark, and hammerhead shark), Manta rays, eagle rays, Napoleon fish and turtles are regularly found in the pass, just like the common bottlenose dolphins, who visit it on a daily basis. The luck factor is very important on this spot. A few minutes apart, two groups of snorkelers can live very different experiences (sometimes without any sight).
The edges of the pass are covered with hard coral, and are the home to a varied reef life. You will see groups of black triggerfish, schools of jacks, several species of surgeonfish (including the colorful achilles tang), and butterflyfish.
You will find 2 or 3 snacks and restaurants in Avatoru and Tiputa, located near the piers, but the opening hours are reduced, especially at lunch time (do not arrive after 2pm).
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.
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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.
Coral reef with a vibrant marine life
Drift snorkeling in a deep pass visited by sharks, rays and turtles
Drop-off with blacktip and lemon sharks
Shallow sandy lagoon with reef fish and sharks
Steep drop off with coral, reef fish and sharks
Shallow reef and deep pass with sharks and Maori wrasse
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