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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 drift-snorkeled, letting the gentle currents carry you through 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.

Drift snorkeling in Tiputa Pass aerial view
Aerial view of the Tiputa Pass.

How to go snorkeling in the Tiputa Pass?

The Tiputa pass is located between the Tiputa and Avatoru, Rangiroa’s main villages. Two viewpoints have 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 snorkel the pass, you will have the choice between several tour organizers on the atoll. The prices range from 30 to 50 euros per person for a 2-hours tour. Your hotel or your guesthouse will make the booking for you. The boats leave from Avatoru and Tiputa jetties and reach the pass in a few minutes.

Because of the current and the depth in the central part of the pass, drift snorkeling is not recommended if you are not a confident snorkeler. Do not consider snorkeling in the pass without supervision.

The Tiputa Pass snorkeling map, Rangiroa

Water entrance for snorkeling the Tiputa Pass

Once the boat will be 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 drift.

Tiputa Pass snorkeling tips and recommendations

Snorkeling 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.

Most tours will allow you to drift 2 or 3 times in the pass, getting back on the boat between the different drifts. It is also possible, once inside the atoll, to let you drift to a nice patch reef known as The Aquarium (Motu Nui Nui), which is fringed by a vibrant coral reef.

Coral reef in the Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa
The edges of the pass feature vibrant coral reefs.

The pass offers a high probability of encountering big sea creatures, but the sightings cannot be guaranteed.

Blacktip sharks are the most common big fish in Tiputa, but you may also spot other shark species such as the grey reef shark, the tiger shark and the hammerhead shark. Manta rays, eagle rays, Maori wrasse and green sea turtles are frequently encountered in the pass, just like the 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).

Unicornfish in the Tiputa Pass - Rangiroa snorkeling
A school of unicornfish in Tiputa Pass.

The edges of the pass are covered with hard coral, and are the home to rich reef life. You will observe schools of black triggerfish and jacks, several species of surgeonfish (including the Achilles tang), and butterflyfish.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

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 lunchtime.


  • Level required Advanced
  • Maximum depth100ft/30m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a boat
  • Potential DangersCurrent
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (from $30pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

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.