The reason why a few tourists come out to this atoll in the Tuamotu Islands is to spend as much time under the water as possible. Fakarava is one of the top-notch diving spots in the world with a marine life that is truly unchallenged!
We had contacted the Te Ava Nui diving centre from Rapa Nui and received a prompt answer from the owner, Jean Christophe, who also happened to be on the Easter Island. Yes, it is a small world! This was not the only coincidence: we took the same plane going from Hanga Roa to Papeete and from Papeete to Fakarava, so we had time to talk about diving and what would be a good and inexpensive place to stay.
Well, Fakarava more than met our expectations and they were very high, since many divers with great experience had told us it is one of the best diving spot in the world. We are just overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of fish we have seen so far, that is to say after five dives: of course you have the impression to dive into an aquarium as in Red Sea, with at times hundreds of small fish of all colors surrounding you.
But this is not what we came here for! In five dives, we actually saw more than two hundred Grey Reef Sharks, sometimes being surrounded by them and having them swimming between us. We also saw Silvertips Sharks resting on the ground: they are one of the very few species of sharks that can breathe without moving! One of them was far more than two meters long. We also saw many Eagle Rays, once a mother with three young ones, a lot of Napoleon Fish, some really big one, and the usual Barracudas, Parrot fishes and what not!
Another fascinating phenomenon was the large schools of fish: sometimes, it seems like penetrating a wall of floating shiny bodies. Often they are so close together that from the distance it appears to be one huge fish!
The people diving with us are all extremely experienced divers, some of them having been to the most famous diving spots in the world. Many of them are using state of the art equipment and cameras. A few gentlemen were truly shocked to see that we went down without a diving computer and even more horrified to hear we had only about twenty dives. “This is no place for someone with only 20 dives”, one German gentleman snapped at Gilles. Well, we enjoyed it as much as they did!
During the second dive, Gilles for the first time in his young diving career faced a major challenge. When the guide, Jean-Christophe, made the group report their air pressure, he had 80 Bars, just fine. Then he became preoccupied with his goggles and when he checked again he was down to 30 Bars, in what seemed to have been only a minute. By the time he reached the nearest guide he was down to 10 bars. During these seconds of light panic, he also felt that breathing became extremely difficult. Gilles simply clung on Jean-Jacques who gave him air through his “Octopus” and then passed Gilles on to Jean-Christophe, the guide in charge of our group, so he could at least do the required deco-stops to the surface. Quite an experience!