Rangiroa, or "Endless Sky" in Tahitian, is French Polynesia's largest atoll. A long, narrow grouping of 415 small motu strung together in a misshapen circle, it harbors a lagoon so large the entire island of Tahiti could fit in it. It's also impossible to see from one side of the lagoon to the other. Rangiroa's tourism industry has been built around the lagoon and the two passes (Avatoru and Tiputa) that connect it to the ocean. Divers descend on Rangi, as it's nicknamed, to "shoot the pass. View more
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Learn about the cultivating of black pearls in Rangiroa and French Polynesia on this visit to a local farm.
Board the tour vehicle for a 10-minute ride along the main road of Rangiroa and past the airport to one of the numerous black pearl farms on the island. Most pearl farms are small in size; the workers at the farm visited are representative of the farms in this area.
Your visit begins with a 20-minute introduction to pearl farming presented by the knowledgeable staff. Listen as farm representatives discuss the chronology and evolution of the industry and how oysters are selected and then grafted for production. Grafting is the key element, as it requires a skilled artisan to perform the precise opening of each oyster to introduce the mantel and the nucleus to the pocket inside. It is the mantel that coats the nucleus to form the pearl.
Following the introduction, move on to one of the work sheds where oysters are sorted and cleaned. Then, watch a grafter at work as he skilfully performs his trade. Afterwards, you have the opportunity to view a selection of unset black pearls. The guide provides explanations on how the pearls are graded for quality, shape, and lustre. There are round, baroque and semi-baroque pearls, ranging in grades from C to A.
Re-board the tour vehicle and return to the pier.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking to the tour vehicle and at the farm; guests must be able to enter and exit the vehicle via steps. This tour is suitable for guests with limited mobility but is not wheelchair accessible. Transportation is very basic; vehicles used are mini-vans and mini-buses and are the best available. Due to the limited number of vehicles available, all seats are utilised. We thank you for your understanding. Commentary at the pearl farm is by the local workers. They are not certified guides and their English may be basic and accented. Pearls can be purchased at the boutique at the end of the visit. They accept cash (Euro, USD, Pacific Franc) and credit card (American Express, Visa, Master Card). Guests needing more than 10-15 minutes to shop should return on the next transfer back to the ship or the Pearl Farm may return you to the pier. Space on this tour is limited.
Marvel at the underwater sights surrounding the island of Rangiroa during your two dives to the Tiputa pass and surrounds.
Your escort will meet you on the pier and take you to the awaiting zodiac-style dive boat. Once you receive your equipment, the dive boat heads for the site of your first dive. Following a thorough safety briefing by your PADI Dive Master and getting your equipment set-up and checked out, you are ready to plunge in to the awaiting beauty beneath the surface.
Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Southern Hemisphere and it is a diver's mecca. There are two passes in Rangiroa and both are just a short boat ride away. Depending on the sea conditions, you may visit caves full of Red Snapper, barracuda, and dozens of Napoleon Fish. The sites boast turtle, dolphin, ray and shark sightings. A highlight between November and February are the visiting Hammerhead sharks.
Following your first dive, re-board the boat for a surface interval and sit back as your captain skilfully manoeuvres the boat to your second dive site. With sufficient surface time allowed, get suited-up for your next dive.
The dive boast then returns you to the pier where the driver awaits to take you back to the ship's tender pier.
Please note: This adventure tour for certified divers only requires an extensive amount of activity. It must be reserved or cancelled a minimum of four days prior to arrival in Rangiroa to avoid penalties. Guests must have been diving within the last year; please bring your dive log. You must present your certification card to participate and be able to complete a required medical questionnaire and liability waiver. The tour includes all scuba equipment, including wet suit. You may wish to bring your own mask and snorkel. Nitrox is available upon request. The actual dive site will be determined by the captain/dive master based on weather and sea conditions. The dive profile will be determined by the dive master. All dive activities are guided by a certified PADI Dive Master and or PADI Scuba Instructor. Wear a swimsuit under a cover-up, plenty of sun protection and bring a towel and bottled water from the ship. The sighting of specific marine life cannot be guaranteed. A minimum number of guests is required to operate this tour.
Get an up-close look at French Polynesia's tropical underwater scene from a glass bottom boat on this scenic hour-long cruise. It is an easy and relaxing way to get acquainted with the coral gardens and their colourful inhabitants without having to be in the water.
Leave the pier in a glass bottom boat and cruise slowly over the huge coral heads that cluster in shallow areas near the Tiputa channel. Through large windows you can observe an amazing variety of marine life, including parrot, butterfly, and surgeon fish. You may even encounter black-tipped sharks and the majestic Napoleon fish.
The Polynesian boat crew attract the fish right under the glass panels, allowing for perfect viewing and photography. The boat's overhead cover provides protection from the sun and eliminates glare, ensuring that you will take home great pictures.
Conclude this glass bottom boat cruise back at the pier.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking to the tour boat; guests must be able to climb in and out of the boat. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility but is not wheelchair accessible. Snorkelling is not offered. While guides are knowledgeable, their spoken English may be basic and accented. Transportation is very basic; vehicles used are mini-vans, mini-buses and/or local Le Trucks and are the best available. Operation of this tour is subject to favourable weather and sea conditions. The boat does offer covering, providing protection from the sun; however, we recommend you bring hat, glasses and sun cream. The sighting of wildlife cannot be guaranteed. Participation is limited, but several departures will be available.
Rangiroa's turquoise lagoon is more like a vast inland sea, with the dry land forming a narrow chain of sandy motus that encircle this huge waterway. The marine life in the lagoon is some of the most spectacular anywhere.
Board the local boat pierside and transfer to the natural aquarium within the lagoon for an exciting experience. This open-water aquarium is known as one of best snorkelling spots on the atoll. With a local guide in attendance, you can admire the fascinating and colourful world of tropical fish and coral formations. Harmless black-tipped sharks may swim around you and, if you wish, you may even feed the fish.
This discovery into Rangiroa's unique open-water aquarium concludes with the boat trip back to the pier.
Please note: This tour is recommended only to guests who are physically fit and able to swim. Although only a minimal amount of walking is required, guests must be able to manoeuvre in and out of the snorkel boat using a 2-step ladder. Snorkelling takes place directly from the boat in water too deep to stand and there may be a current. Snorkel equipment (mask and snorkel only) provided but we recommend you bring your own equipment to ensure good quality and fit. Swimsuits should be worn under beach-type clothing. Please remember to bring your sunscreen, hat, towel and bottled water from the ship. Waterproof cameras are highly recommended. The 12-passenger motorboat is without cover. Local residents provide some commentary. Their spoke English may be limited and with an accent; they are not certified guides but the best available.