Sharks in Paradise


Sharks in Paradise

July 24, 2017

Blacktip Reef Sharks, Lemon Sharks & Hammerhead Sharks – Oh My!

Every July, #SharkWeek debuts with an exciting line-up of shark programming on television. But did you know that every week is shark week in French Polynesia? Each voyage, Paul Gauguin Cruises features a variety of shore excursions and SCUBA dives that offer the opportunity to see these majestic sea creatures in the wild.

We offer a variety of excursions and dives with shark watching for those who prefer to observe marine life from a boat to those who enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and diving in waters with sharks. Here is a list of options.

Shore Excursions

Lagoon Excursion with Maohi Nui – Bora Bora, Society Islands

Tour Bora Bora’s lagoon in a traditional outrigger canoe (motorized), with ukulele animation and narration on the culture, history, and nature of this beautiful island. The first stop is for snorkeling in a coral garden, where visitors can discover many different colorful fish, corals, and other inhabitants of a wonderful natural ecosystem. The guide accompanies visitors in the water. The second stop is to visit stingrays in shallow water. The approach is gentle and respectful, keeping in mind the preservation of nature. The last stop is on the ocean side, for the observation of blacktip reef sharks.

Shark & Ray Watching by Glass-Bottom Boat – Bora Bora, Society Islands

Get acquainted with sharks and rays in a unique way by viewing them from a glass-bottom boat during a ride in Bora Bora. Then, enjoy a swim with stingrays.

Fakarava Pinnacle Snorkel – Fakarava, Tuamotus

Experience the abundant marine life for which Fakarava is famous during this memorable snorkeling adventure. The snorkeling experience starts around the coral head. Discover a wide variety of species including sharks, tropical fish, groupers, parrotfish, triggerfish, and others.

Lagoonarium: Open-Air Aquarium Snorkeling Experience – Bora Bora, Society Islands

Experience Bora Bora’s fascinating marine life up-close during this unique snorkeling safari in an open-air aquarium. During the visit, there will be opportunities for up-close encounters with marine life, including sharks, rays, jack fish, turtles, parrotfish, and more. Snorkeling begins from the beach in shallow water, ranging in depth from 3 to 10 feet, and is suitable for beginners and experienced snorkelers.

Sharks and Stingrays Encounter – Bora Bora, Society Islands

Explore the exquisite beauty and undersea denizens of Bora Bora’s lagoon during a snorkeling safari. A guide in a covered snorkeling boat takes you to a shallow sandbank. Discover elegant, yet harmless stingrays in the lagoon with the guide, and watch in amazement as they glide effortlessly in the water. Next, you will continue on for a visit to a pristine coral garden. Upon arrival, you will receive your safety and diving instructions, then have an opportunity to snorkel in depths ranging from 4 to 5 feet. Along the way, admire an abundance of tropical and multicolored fish, including parrotfish and butterflyfish.

SCUBA Diving Excursions

SCUBA Shark Gallery – Moorea, Society Islands

During this memorable and educational shark dive, certified divers can observe the behavior of sharks in their natural habitat and discover why their reputation is undeserved. Depart the marina platform for the brief Zodiac® ride to the dive site. After receiving safety and diving instructions, join the dive master in the crystal-clear water to observe sharks in the wild. The blacktip sharks that thrive in the area will swim near the surface to welcome you and will likely remain there throughout your dive. You will even learn to distinguish the males from the females. At times, a larger lemon shark might make an appearance.

SCUBA Fakarava 2-Tank – Fakarava, Tuamotus

Advanced certified divers depart the marina platform aboard a local dive boat and receive a safety briefing during the 20-minute ride to the outside reef of the Garuae Pass of Fakarava. Once on the site, gear up, and when the whole group is ready, everyone will enter the water. Immediately admire the untouched beauty of the reef, which is protected by UNESCO. Dive along the edge of the drop-off among big schools of fish, grey reef sharks, and tunas. You may have the chance to spot a manta ray or a turtle feeding quietly.

SCUBA Rangiroa – Rangiroa, Tuamotus

Rangiroa offers some of the best dives in the world in and around the Tiputa Pass. Experienced divers won't want to miss this opportunity to explore this prime diving site. During austral summer (December-March), great hammerhead sharks and manta rays populate this area, and sedentary common bottlenose dolphins regularly play in groups in the pass or on the outer reef. Because of Tiputa Pass’ large size, each high tide creates a strong incoming current, while each low tide creates a strong outgoing current in those two passes. When the current is flowing inward through Tiputa Pass, about 100 shark species gather at its entrance, at 150 feet deep. Led by the strong current, sharks can remain motionless, allowing divers to observe them without any difficulty. The dive sites will be decided depending of the tide. Maximum depth on some dives in Rangiroa can be 100 feet.

SCUBA Hammerhead Sentry Point – Taiohae, Nuka Hiva, Marquesas

Enjoy a unique opportunity to dive with scalloped hammerhead sharks. They usually gather around a big rock at the entrance of the bay among jack fish, tunas, rays, and more. The sharks are very shy; there is no guarantee that you will have a chance to observe them, and due to the richness of plankton in the water, the visibility is limited and sometimes reaches only 20 feet. Divers will embark the dive boat from the ship’s gangway and receive a safety briefing on the way to the dive site. Upon arriving at the site, divers will gear up and roll into the water as a group. There is no reference line to descend, and the current and the swell can be strong, so this dive is offered only to very experienced divers with at least 50 dives and holding advanced diver certification.

Feedback from Guests

A number of our guests have enjoyed shore excursions and SCUBA dives that offer the opportunity to view sharks in French Polynesia.

Sean Castle sailed with us recently and remarks on his shark encounter experience. "Diving with sharks on my SCUBA diving excursion with Paul Gauguin Cruises helped me understand how misunderstood sharks are. These are not the man-eating creatures that the movies have made them out to be. Sharks are incredible and majestic creatures. I can hardly wait to do it again on my next cruise aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin in 2019."

Fourteen-year-old Nick cruised on The Gauguin when he was nine years old and swam with sharks. We asked him a few questions about his experience with swimming and snorkeling with sharks.

What was it like to swim with sharks?

To be honest, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I learned a lot about sharks and research and conservation efforts to protect the species.

Do you recommend it for other kids who are unsure about swimming with them?  

It was one of my favorite things I have done in my life, and I recommend it 100 percent.

If you come back to Tahiti, would you consider our Discover SCUBA Diving Program, where you have the opportunity to dive with blacktip reef and lemon sharks?

If I was given the opportunity to, I would do this in a heartbeat.

Our new Stewards of Nature program also provides opportunities to learn about sharks on summer and holiday sailings. Click here to view daily voyage schedules.

To learn more about our shore excursions, click here.

To find out about our SCUBA diving programs and excursions, click here.