My Top 5 Places to Scuba Dive, Rangiroa, French Polynesia

When the words “requin, requin” (French for shark) are shouted in Rangiroa, swimmers here do not run to shore fearing for their lives. On the contrary, most of the snorkelers and divers who come to this oval-shaped coral atoll in the Tuamotus stay in the water to relish a face-to-face encounter with one of these mesmerizing creatures. Grey reef, white- and black-tipped, lemon sharks, and hammerheads peer at divers in the renowned Tiputa Pass, a 60-foot deep channel that connects the island’s lagoon with the open sea. It was here that I dove down 40 feet only to be surrounded by at least 20 hammerheads in a matter of minutes. I guess they didn’t find me tasty. The perfect place to recover after your snorkeling adventure with Jaws is the Kia Ora Village, Rangiroa’s premier hotel. If you’re looking for that Robinson Crusoe experience, retreat to Kia Ora Sauvage, a small island about an hour away by boat from the main hotel. The island has just five basic bungalows and two cooks who prepare all the meals.