Maupiti Diving Day #1…..

Dear F&F,

In brief, the diving here is fantastic. But GETTING to the dive sites is a
bit rough. Inside the reef/lagoon where we are anchored, it is nice and
calm; very few local boats zooming around. In Bora Bora, there was always a
local or other cruiser zooming through the mooring area, their wake rocking
us around. Here there are just 6 of us, nicely spread out. And if we
understood correctly, the group of 4 German charter boats will be sailing to
Raiatea tomorrow.

Ronald, the current owner of Maupiti Dive Center and Lionel the new guy
taking over the operation in 1 week, both came in the small dive boat to
pick us up. No other clients, which is nice for us. Apparently he can take 4
divers, including him, but just 3 or 4 total is ideal as far as we are
concerned. We noticed yesterday there was no bimini for shade, so I wore my
seawater hat & cheap sunglasses for some sun protection.

Heading out the pass was rougher than when we came in yesterday. The swell
was larger and choppy so the power boat rose up then slammed down every
wave. Not comfy. We braced ourselves as best as we could and hung on. The
ride to the first site was rough, but thankfully only 15 minutes. That’s
pretty far in this 18 foot runabout. I was happy to backroll in to get down
below the chaos on the surface. All was calm, all was bright …

Wow: we though Bora Bora had great visibility. But here we could see for
miles and miles (sing)…Ok maybe not miles, but really clear, beautiful
water. AND pristine coral reefs. What an improvement from the other islands
in French Polynesia! When we asked Ronald later why the reef looks so great
here compared to Moorea and the other islands, he told us that he personally
exterminates (with a special process I’ll describe later) hundreds of the
Crown of Thorns starfish that are coral eaters. An infestation will decimate
a reef. He focused on the area of his 6-8 designated dive sites. His efforts
have really paid off. Moorea has been completely decimated, same for Tahaa,
Raiatea & Bora Bora was pretty bad too.

Ronald does no shark baiting, so any sightings are completely natural, and
consequently more rare, since there is nothing to attract sharks to divers.
We enjoyed our \”Shark Week\” with Gilles in Bora Bora very much. (PLEASE SEE
OUR VIDEO GALLERY….”FINS OF BORA BORA”). But Ronald\’s philosophy is good. We
saw two small white tip reef sharks, only about 30 inches long. Scott is
(trying) to take photos of smaller fish. Close up underwater photography is
much more challenging than wide angle. Just when he frames the shot, the
uncooperative critter swims away. Free of a camera, I admire the scenery,
smiling as I blow bubbles. Lionel led us into a cave that had 5 lion fish
hanging upside down as they like to do. Sort of bat-like. We saw a few eels,
one coral-banded shrimp and the usual assortment of tropical fish. The
variety of texture, shape and size of the coral is a canvas of beauty. The
swimming creatures bring the pretty picture to life. Fantastic! Hopefully
when we post the still underwater photos, you’ll get a feel for the
beautiful expanse of Maupiti’s hard corals.

The second site was just as lovely as the first. A bit further pounding ride
in the dive boat, along the motu where the airport runway is located. It was
a fairly short surface interval since none of us wanted to hang out in the
bouncing boat. We were greeted with a school of silvery barracuda with
black stripes. We had to keep an eye on our depth gauges because of the
short surface interval. We didn\’t readily notice the depth because of the
water clarity, there was a lot of light and visibility even at 80 feet.
Ronald guided us up to the shallower part of the reef so we could extend our
allowed bottom time, without needing a lengthy decompression stop;
beautiful. We got so enchanted looking at everything and swimming along that
an hour passed by quickly.

Voila! Off to a great start for Maupiti Diving. Ronald said the weather
forecast is for stronger wind & bigger waves Tuesday, so we will go again
tomorrow, while it is still \”calm\”. Ha! He says he won\’t take divers out if
it is too rough. There is a manta cleaning station in the pass, he will take
us there when conditions are right (incoming tide). It is nice that we are
not on any fixed schedule, so can just relax & enjoy.

Cindy & Scott