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Nuku Hiva | Hiva Oa

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.

    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 light.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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!
    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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