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French Polynesia Liveaboards

With its natural beauty and rich marine environment, French Polynesia is a stunning holiday destination. We are delighted to offer liveaboard diving holidays aboard the superb M/V French Polynesia Master to show you the best diving that French Polynesia has to offer.

Made up of 118 islands and atolls, French Polynesia spans an area roughly the same size as Europe. This expanse of islands and atolls are split into five groups: the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos. Of these five, the Society archipelago is unquestionably the most famous, and home to the legendary islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti.

Diving in French Polynesia...
The varied topography in French Polynesia lends itself to exciting and unique diving. From shallow lagoon dives to reef diving, the rich waters surrounding the French Polynesian archipelagos are home to a vibrant marine wildlife.

Water temperatures average around 27°C and visibility is superb, between 30 - 50 metres, making diving in French Polynesia truly spectacular. Common sightings in the archipelago's waters include rays, grey sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, dolphins, tropical Pacific fish, Napoleon wrasse and even humpback whales! Novice and experienced divers alike can revel in the fantastic underwater environment, while adrenaline junkies can explore some of the more remote coral atolls and drop offs.

Your scuba diving holiday in French Polynesia will leave you with unforgettable memories and breathtaking experiences. It is undoutedly one of the top diving destinations around the world and one where divers of all levels can jump in and enjoy the fantastic underwater marine environment.

French Polynesia encompasses 118 islands, with a number of diving hot spots. The warm waters and sheltered lagoons have combined to create an ideal environment for the varied marine life that calls these waters home. Common sightings include colorful fish, to manta rays, moray eels, sea turtles and sharks.

M/V French Polynesia Master
The M/V French Polynesia Master is the newest vessel in the Master fleet. Built by divers, for divers, she departed on her maiden voyage at the end of 2016. Enjoy some of the top dive sites in French Polynesia on board this stunning liveaboard vessel.

The M/V French Polynesia Master welcomes a total of 25 divers on each liveaboard trip, maximizing safety and comfort for all guests on board. Both 7 and 10 night diving safaris are offered on board this stunning vessel. Guests will be able to choose between standard and premium twin/double cabins on the lower, mid and upper deck. Cabins feature en-suite facilities and individual air conditioning units alongside ample storage room for your personal belongings. For your added convenience and flexibility, the M/V French Polynesia Master offers cabins that can be used either as a twin or as a double bedded room.

The communal areas available to guests include a spacious indoor lounge on the middle deck. Relax and unwind from your day's diving while watching your favourite movie or your latest underwater shots on the plasma screen television. The indoor dining area brings you a tantalising array of mouth-watering meals. Take in the spectacular scenery of French Polynesia from the shaded outdoor lounging area on the upper deck. Bask in a relaxing Jacuzzi on the upper deck after a sunbathing session and enjoy the stunning topography surrounding you.

Photographers can take full advantage of the camera set-up station. Additional storage drawers mean that even photography charter groups will have no problem finding enough space for their equipment!

Dive equipment is set up and stored on the rear of the main deck. All guests are allocated an individual set up station, with under bench storage for masks, fins and other personal items. A central camera table can be used to store prepared equipment ahead of the dive, with dedicated rinse tanks provided. Divers can take advantage of the on deck shower hoses or use the starboard side deck head to rinse off between dives.

Explore the tabs located above for additional images and information on the M/V French Polynesia Master and diving in French Polynesia.

ITINERARIES:

Fakarava and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (7 nights):
The varied topography and plethora of marine sites ensure that diving in French Polynesia stands out as a truly spectacular destination.

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Fakarava Island are a true diving paradise. Enjoy drift diving through the passes that support a flourishing marine environment, where white tip and black tip sharks are frequently spotted. For lucky individuals, diving with humpback whales is possible during the humpback whale season from July to October.

Qualification Needed:

We can welcome everyone, but we recommend being qualified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent and have a minimum of 30 logged dives. The scuba diving regulation system in French Polynesia is particularly severe. The rules governing this field of activity are of prime importance and flouting them may result in heavy consequences. Therefore, depth limits given by the Cruise Director must be followed. Each destination has different diving conditions based on the season and time of the trip.

Sample Itinerary:
**PLEASE NOTE** The itinerary below is an example of the planned route and dive sites cannot be guaranteed. All dives sites are subject to weather conditions and the final route taken is at the absolute discretion of the captain and dive guides.

The diving day aboard M/V French Polynesia Master has a typical schedule as follows:-

- Light Breakfast followed by a briefing and dive 1
- Full Breakfast, relaxation period, briefing and dive 2
- Lunch, relaxation period, briefing and dive 3
- Snack relaxation period, briefing and dive 4, where possible
- Dinner

Itinerary Highlights

We will dive Fakarava Island in depth, however your dive team will also provide for dives at the numerous smaller islands along the way, including; Toau, Kauehi, Faaite, Niau and Raraka, which make up the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. On a typical 7-night itinerary we will offer between 18-20 dives. The following is a description of the dive sites we may visit during your 7-night liveaboard safari aboard M/V French Polynesia Master.

Fakarava Island
Garaue Pass -- The northernmost channel of Fakarava Island and arguably the best site in the region for consistent shark sightings. The pass itself is 1600m wide and should only be dived at slack water due to the very strong currents. Starting at the outer wall we encounter the huge ‘‘wall of sharks’’ where hundreds of greys congregate. Black tip, white tip, hammerhead, tiger, silky and oceanic white tip are amongst the other species seen. Napoleon wrasse, surgeon fish and the typical schools of big eyes and yellow snapper swarm over the reefs, joined by turtles, morays and lionfish. In June and July, large numbers of grouper aggregate to spawn, a truly spectacular sight. Manta rays also visit.
Maiuru -- A submerged plateau on the outer edge of the pass levels out at 18m into a lovely hard coral garden. At the ‘drop off’ you can encounter shark activity, whilst over the reef large schools of paddletail snapper and barracuda form. Manta rays and eagle rays come by for cleaning and a quick meal and there are plenty of smaller creatures, including nudibranchs and crabs to spot amongst the corals and sponges.
Ohutu -- The second plateau starts at 12m and drops to 30m with vibrant corals; a superb place to watch manta rays.
Restaurant Pier -- This shallow site is perfect for an afternoon dive where schools of snapper, black tip reef sharks and Napoleon wrasse are common, with a stunning atmosphere for photography.
Tumakohua -- The southern pass of Fakarava is just as dramatic as the north, though only 200m across, it can be dived with both ingoing and outgoing tides. Big schools of grey reef sharks can be seen in the deeper water whilst along the shallower reef black tips dart about. Manta rays and leopard whiprays are also frequently seen.

Toau Island
Otugi Pass -- The 400m wide channel is best dived on an incoming tide for the schools of grey reef sharks and silvertips.
Teahuroa -- The outer reef wall is where huge schools of snapper congregate. Reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse, barracuda, surgeon fish and big eyes join them, whilst manta ray sightings are possible too.

Kauehi Island
Outer Wall -- The sloping outer wall of Kauehi Island is encrusted with huge hard coral formations and sponges. Butterfly fish, surgeon fish, banner fish and snappers all form large schools over the reef. Puffer fish, morays, tuna, barracuda, wrasse and lionfish are a common sight, whilst mantas, grey reef shark, eagle rays and the occasional hammerhead make up the larger visitors. Great for spotting leaf fish and nudibranchs too.

Marquesas Islands ( 10 Nights):
French Polynesia conjures up images of white sandy beaches and picture perfect lagoons. With majestic islands rising out of the water landscape, French Polynesia is a treasure trove to explore both above land and under the water.

Qualification Needed:

We can welcome everyone, but we recommend being qualified as PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent and have a minimum of 30 logged dives. The scuba diving regulation system in French Polynesia is particularly severe. The rules governing this field of activity are of prime importance and flouting them may result in heavy consequences, depth limits given by the Cruise Director must be followed. Each destination has different diving conditions based on the season and time of the trip.

Sample Itinerary:
**PLEASE NOTE** The itinerary below is an example of the planned route and dive sites cannot be guaranteed. All dives sites are subject to weather conditions and the final route taken is at the absolute discretion of the captain and dive guides.

The diving day aboard M/V French Polynesia Master has a typical schedule as follows:-

- Light Breakfast followed by a briefing and dive 1
- Full Breakfast, relaxation period, briefing and dive 2
- Lunch, relaxation period, briefing and dive 3
- Snack
- Briefing for sunset or night dive
- Dinner

For your final full day aboard, two morning dives are scheduled to allow plenty of time for off-gassing before disembarkation for the following morning and your flight home. The Cruise Director is happy to listen to requests from guests to visit or remain at certain sites and providing it is possible and the schedule allows, then guest's requests are respected.

Itinerary Highlights

The following is a description of the dive sites you may visit during your liveaboard safari as M/V French Polynesia Master cruises around the Marquesas Islands. We wish to show you the very best of the islands, however there is also an exploratory element to this itinerary as well and we will likely include sites that are little known or being dived for the very first time.

Whilst we attempt to ensure the number of dives we have scheduled is fulfilled, bad weather can hinder the yacht's ability to reach a specified dive site in good time. The safety of all on board is paramount and we always do our best in offering diving at alternate locations should we be unable to visit the sites listed below:

The Hammerhead Sentinel
Named for the scalloped hammerheads that can be spotted here, this site offers a quandary for the photographer. Whilst there is always the chance of hammerheads, as well as grey reef and other shark species, the macro life here is amazing too! Multiple dives will offer the chance to break out your lens collection to see dragon eels, boxer crabs and various nudibranchs.

Melonheaded Whales
A must see for both divers and snorkelers alike, as long as there are calm seas. Though they can be seen elsewhere, this site on the east of Nuku Hiva is one of the best spots for seeing melonheaded whales (closely related to the pygmy killer whale). These playful and curious mammals leap in the surf and don't take too much encouragement to investigate those in the water.

Matateiko Point
This rocky outcropping is on the western point of Nuku Hiva. The wall drops away steeply from the island here and offers an abundance of masked morays, dragon eels and more. Manta rays are often seen here as well as the occasional shark cruising the reef.

Motumano Point
Exposed to open sea currents, this site acts as a magnet for large pelagics. Several species, in particular hammerheads and white tip reef sharks, come here along with schools of trevally and barracuda to hunt on the schools of red and black snapper. There is also a great chance for manta sightings here in the currents!

Tikapo Rock
Spectacular before even jumping in the water, this is a perfect place for spotting both pelagic and reef species in large active numbers. Currents can be strong here, but you are rewarded with schools of trevallies, unicorn fish and barracuda. There are also often groups of eagle rays as well as a plethora of reef species and white tip reef sharks cruising.

Ekamako Cave
A large cave with two chambers awaits here, with not only groups of stingrays and giant lobsters, but also interesting natural phenomena. There is a vertical tube filled with fresh water from above, as well as a large air pocket, large enough to take a break and have a quick chat before continuing.

Dulcinea
Dulcinea is a rocky seamount that just brushes the surface in a protected bay. While the site is often covered with snapper, urchins, lobsters and other crustaceans, there is a large tunnel joining the two sides of the site that should be investigated, if only for the huge groups of soldier fish waiting at each entrance.

Clark Bank
The top of this large sea mount is at only 9m, though the walls below drop away beyond 1500m, so as you can imagine, this site boasts plenty of sharks, barracuda, tuna and even passing mantas.

Loson Bank
Another open sea shoal, far to the west of Clark Bank, Loson tops out at 17m before dropping away to depths of more than 1000m. Again, you can expect lots of pelagic action in the big open blue!

Fatu Hiva Island
Something a little more sedate after the high energy current and pinnacle diving, Fatu Hiva has some spectacular scenery, both above and below the water. The towering spires that encircle Hanavava Bay drop steeply into the water below leading to a rocky reef that is abundant with anemones, three-spot damsels, cowries and eels.

Ua Huka Island
Beginning with a rocky substrate, the bottom here transforms into sand in deeper water. Mantas are frequent visitors to this site and while you wait, on the sandy bottom, shrimp gobies stand guard as their blind shrimp companions diligently keep their hideaways clean.

Tuamotu Archipelago (7 nights)
The Tuamoto Archipelago of Fakarava Island are a true diving paradise. Enjoy drift diving through the passes that support a flourishing marine environment, where white tip and black tip sharks are frequently spotted. For lucky individuals, diving with humpback whales is possible during the humpback whale season from July to October.

Qualification Needed:

We can welcome everyone, but we recommend being qualified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent and have a minimum of 30 logged dives. The scuba diving regulation system in French Polynesia is particularly severe. The rules governing this field of activity are of prime importance and flouting them may result in heavy consequences. Therefore, depth limits given by the Cruise Director must be followed. Each destination has different diving conditions based on the season and time of the trip.

Sample Itinerary:
**PLEASE NOTE** The itinerary below is an example of the planned route and dive sites cannot be guaranteed. All dives sites are subject to weather conditions and the final route taken is at the absolute discretion of the captain and dive guides.

The diving day aboard the French Polynesia Master has a typical schedule as follows:-

- Light Breakfast followed by a briefing an dive 1
- Full Breakfast, relaxation period, briefing and dive 2
- Lunch, relaxation period, briefing and dive 3
- Snack relaxation period, briefing and dive 4, where possible
- Dinner

Itinerary Highlights

The following is a description of the dive sites we may visit during your liveaboard safari as the M/V French Polynesia Master cruises between Rangiroa and Fakarava. We have included the highlights; however the yacht may also stop at numerous smaller islands along the way including Arutua, Kankura and Niau. On a typical 7-night itinerary we will offer between 18-20 dives.

Rangiroa Island
Tiputa Pass - Dropping in at the outer edge divers can hook into the reef wall and watch the amazing shark display. Hammerheads, tiger shark and huge schools of grey reef shark are the main draw. Drift on the incoming tide through The Canyons, where schools of big eyes hang out and mantas can be seen hanging in the cross current. End the dive at Shark Cave where white tips typically come to rest. Other common fish species are grouper and Napoleon wrasse.
Tiputa Reef -- On the ocean side of the pass the reef plateaus out at 20m into a magnificent coral garden. Schools of barracuda, turtles, white tip sharks, small wrasse and many colourful reef fish species can be seen. Mantas put in an occasional appearance, bottle nose dolphins too.
Deep Blue -- Or simply ‘‘The Blue’’ is the deep water on the ocean side of Tiputa Pass. Here we drop divers directly from the boat to descend to 20m and hang in the blue as the sharks are tempted up to the shallower depths by dropping stones. Expect to see grey reef, silky and silver tip sharks as well as bottlenose dolphins.
Nuhi Nuhi -- A shallow coral garden where angel fish, butterfly fish, anthias and all manner of small creatures can be spotted. Look out for leaf fish.
Mypristis -- The coral reef acts as a nursery for grey reef sharks in season. Typically divers can see large numbers of marbled grouper and many anemones with resident clown fish.
Avaturo Pass -- Strong currents are to be expected but bring forth a wide range of pelagic species from reef sharks to tuna and the occasional sailfish.

Apataki Island
Tehere Pass -- The strong currents through the pass mean divers can literally hang like a flag in the breeze! Reef hooks are essential if you want to stay and enjoy the hundreds of grey reef sharks hunting on fusiliers. Tuna, dolphins and swordfish can also be seen. The seabed and wall is more rubble than coral reef so simply drift in the current and enjoy the large pelagics.
Pakaka Pass -- A more gentle drift than the Tehere Pass brings you through a pristine coral garden with table and staghorn corals. Silver tip and black tip reef sharks are seen darting in about the shallow corals, whilst numerous eagle rays are frequently sighted.

Toau Island
Otugi Pass -- The 400m wide channel is best dived on an incoming tide for the schools of grey reef sharks and silvertips.
Teahuroa -- The outer reef wall is where huge schools of snapper congregate. Reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse, barracuda, surgeon fish and big eyes join them, whilst manta ray sightings are possible too.

Fakarava North
Garaue Pass -- The northernmost channel of Fakarava Island and arguably the best site in the region for consistent shark sightings. The pass itself is 1600m wide and should only be dived at slack water due to the very strong currents. Starting at the outer wall we encounter the huge ‘‘wall of sharks’’ where hundreds of greys congregate. Black tip, white tip, hammerhead, tiger, silky and oceanic white tip are amongst the other species seen. Napoleon wrasse, surgeon fish and the typical schools of big eyes and yellow snapper swarm over the reefs, joined by turtles, morays and lionfish. In June and July, large numbers of grouper aggregate to spawn, a truly spectacular sight. Manta rays also visit.
Maiuru -- A submerged plateau on the outer edge of the pass, levels out at 18m into a lovely hard coral garden. At the ‘drop off’ you can encounter shark activity, whilst over the reef paddletail snapper and barracuda form large schools. Manta rays and eagle rays come by for cleaning and a quick meal and there are plenty of smaller creatures including nudibranchs and crabs to spot amongst the corals and sponges.
Ohutu -- The second plateau starts at 12m and drops to 30m with vibrant corals. This is a superb place to watch manta rays. Restaurant Pier -- This shallow site is perfect for an afternoon dive where schools of snapper, black tip reef sharks and Napoleon wrasse are common, with a stunning atmosphere for photography.

Travel Information:

Flight Time: The flight times may vary depending on your chosen route and departure airport, but will last approximately 20 hours.

Time Zone: French Polynesia has 3 variable time zones. Tahiti is GMT -10 hours Gambier Islands are GMT -9 hours, and the Marquesas Islands are GMT -9:30.

Passport and visa: Your passport needs to be valid for a minimum of 90 days following your departure date from French Polynesia. Many nationalities will not require a visa to enter the country, as long as it's for a period of 90 days or less. For more information on French Polynesia's visa requirements, please click here.

Language: French is the official language, but Tahitian and French are both used.

Currency: The Comptoirs Français du Pacifique (CFP), or Tahitian Franc, is the currency used in French Polynesia. The approximate exchange rate is £1 to 149.98 CFP (Nov. 2014). Most major credit cards are accepted, however smaller shops and grocery stores may not always accept credit cards. Additional fees may be charged for the use of credit cards.

Electricity: The voltage is 220 volts and they use one main type of plug (type C/E). These are the plugs with most common is the plug with 2 parallel flat pins.

Telephone: French Polynesia uses he GSM system for mobile phone service. Coverage may be blacked-out in certain areas. For more information on black out areas, please refer to the local operator's website, Vini, which can be accessed by clicking here. Mobile phone coverage in the main inhabited islands in French Polynesia is available, however once at sea, the signal will be much weaker. The country code is +689 or 00689. Dial +44 or 0044 and remove the first 0 from the area code of the number required to direct dial the UK from French Polynesia.

Weather: French Polynesia has a tropical climate with a variety of factors to be taken into consideration including; humidity, rain, sunshine and heat. There are only two seasons: the summer season from November to March, and the winter season from April to October. The average temperature in French Polynesia in the summer is about 30 degrees, with an average temperature of 27 degrees in the winter.
The majority of the rainfall in French Polynesia occurs during the summer months. Historically, winter is the best time to visit the island archipelago weatherwise!
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