ATOL 4112. ATOL Protection extends primarily to
customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom.
Nuku Hiva Dive Sites
The water temperature in the Marquesas is approximately 28C (82.5F)
all year round. Since the waters are devoid of any protective barrier
reefs, divers should be prepared to cope with sometimes difficult conditions,
particularly the swell, to get to the site. Certain sites need require
advanced experience. The Melonhead Whale (pygmy orca) season is from January
to April and the hammerhead season from June to November. Mantas and other
fish species are prevalent all year round.
- MATATETEIKO POINT
At the western side of the island, this site is the farthest from Taiohae.
It features is a rocky platform visible from the surface at the bottom
of the cliff that continues underwater for about 100 yards towards the
open sea. The descent is gradual until 100ft. It is bordered by walls
and peppered with small canyons and caverns. This point is an ideal
location for admiring schools of prowling predators: barracuda, jacks,
tuna & whitetip sharks. Expect a challenging current that usually sweeps
over the area, but also expect the most prolific underwater life drifting
with the turbulence. Take the time to explore the small canyons and
scattered boulders, as they harbour soldierfish, octopi, lobsters and
snappers. Look around and above you so as not miss the manta rays and
hammerheads that often pass by in the shallow waters near the cliff.
Dulcinea is a rocky seamount that just breaches the surface lying within
a protected bay. It features interesting underwater topography that
is divided into two connected tunnels shaped like an inverted "V". The
site is home to a profusion of snappers, urchins, shells, lobsters and
other crustaceans, while the entrances to the caves are flanked by massive
schools of snapper and soldierfish that provide a magnificent back drop
for photographers. Novice divers wishing to experience cave diving will
appreciate this site because the conditions are easy and forgiving;
though a torch is advised, you never actually loose sight of natural
- THE PYGMY ORCAS
This site is one of the most stunning in all of French Polynesia. Good
weather conditions are essential, as the south-east side of the island
is exposed to the prevailing winds and the swell. If the sea is choppy,
it's not accessible. The prominent and unique feature of the dive is
the incredible concentration of melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra)
that congregate in the area every morning. It's hard to count them,
but according to some estimates, there can be as many as 400. They usually
gather and stay at the surface, sometimes playing, sometimes motionless.
Snorkelling is the best way to approach them, as bubbles tend to scare
them away. You can hear their distinct, piercing sounds, and you will
easily notice their white lips, which are thought to be phosphorescent
at night to lure the squid they feed on. Occasionally, you can also
see yellowfin tuna and sailfish cruising in this area.
- EKAMAKO CAVE
This site offers an unforgettable cave diving experience and provides
a unique opportunity to approach stingrays. Ekamako is a large, open-fronted
cavern deeply undercutting the basaltic cliff at 30ft. A torch is indispensable
for exploring the cavern. Upon entering, you will cross a vast chamber
that on the left slopes up gently to a large air pocket. The sandy bottom
is literally carpeted by stingrays, the star attraction of the dive.
The numerous crevices and fissures in the left section of cave are home
to huge lobsters. Given the shallow depth you will have plenty time
to explore all the nooks and crannies of the cave and interact with
the stingrays that make this cave their home.
- MOTUMANO POINT
This strategic location exposed to open sea currents, acts as magnet
for pelagics. Numerous sharks, in particular hammerheads and whitetip
reef sharks, have made this area their hunting ground. And if you want
to approach manta rays, this is a site not to be missed. Schools of
snappers, barracuda & jacks can be seen in vast numbers.
- HAMMERHEAD GUARD ROCK
According to statistics compiled by the Marquesas Diving Centre, divers
have a 70% chance of spotting hammerhead during their dive at this site.
Between the surface and 90ft they, plus mantas, are seen with such regularity
that this must surely be one of the best places in the world to dive
with hammerheads & mantas. Usually the sharks pass by at a depth of
less than 50ft, which provide a unique opportunity for novice divers
to approach them in shallow waters. The sharks are often curious and
will come close to divers. The visibility is usually 60ft on average,
but can be reduced to 15ft on an outgoing tide, when the currents carry
particulate out of the bay. In this instance, your chances of glimpsing
the hammerheads dwindle dramatically. If sharks are not in the area
or if the visibility is minimal, focus on the wall. Its caverns form
a good habitat for moray eels and scorpionfish, and shells are plentiful,
including the Gauguini, a rare species endemic to the Marquesas. The
reef walls here are excellent for macro photography - not something
one normally associates with French Polynesia!
- TIKAPO ROCK
This site boasts spectacular topography. Above the water a 1200ft cliff,
where hundreds of birds nest, dominates Cap Martin, at the exit of Taipiva
valley. Rising from the depths, a rocky pinnacle breaches the surface
beneath this cliff. Tikapo a perfect place for spotting a dense population
of both pelagic and reef species. Photographers will enjoy this site,
particularly for shooting pelagics, as the current is too tricky to
master close-ups of smaller fish. Going around the pinnacle you will
come upon impressive schools of jacks, unicornfish and barracuda in
search of a meal. There are abundant groups of eagle rays, parrotfish,
triggerfish, butterflyfish, pufferfish, soldierfish, and hunting packs
of dogtooth tuna, together with scorpionfish among the crevices. Whitetip
reef sharks are also common here. Invertebrates are relatively limited,
except for porcelain crabs, urchins and encrusting sponges that form
delicate orange patches.
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