CENTRE DE PLONGEE MARQUISES

Xavier CURVAT

BP 100 Taiohae - 98742 Nuku Hiva

Marquesas Island- French Polynesia

 

 

 


GENERAL IMFORMATION

* THE MARQUESAS ARCHIPELAGO


Totally apart from the rest of French Polynesia, due to isolation, its geology, and its culture, a long visit is recommended, for the interest of the dives, as well as for its totally environment, free of damage caused by pollution and over developed tourism. The archipelago is composed of twelve islands, of which only six are inhabited. Nuku Hiva is the second largest island of French Polynesia. Being so far away Tahiti (1500 km) these islands have been separated during along time from the modern world. The population of the island is very low and the people are hospitable and peaceful. The "capital" is a village of some one thousand inhabitants which survive on coprah, fishing and handicrafts. Inter-island connections are rare. Despite this lact of contact, fortunately Nuku Hiva carries out a cruise to discover the neighbouring islands of Ua Huka, Ua Pou, or the southern group of which one island; Hiva Oa, Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel are buried. If a visit to Nuku Hiva is satisfying enough, one or two days visit to the north coast could be considered (magnificent and virtually deserted), regretting that a plane is to be taken afterwards.

* GEOGRAPHY


High islands lacking barrier reefs. The inhabitants are concentred in deep valleys. The density of the population is very low. Virtually no pollution. The inhabitants live off coprah harvest, fishing, and local public employment. Handicrafts (especially carvings on precious woods) are soaring trade. Agriculture is in developed, no industry.

* HISTORY


Inhabited by Maoris who came from south East Asia islands more than two thousand years ago, the Marquesas were the origin of the migrations towards the Hawaiian Islands and Easter island. Discover by the Spanish navigator Mendana exactly four hundred years ago, then forgotten during two centuries, the Marquesas then became a French protectorate following a voyage by the French Etienne Marchand, who discovered the northern islands (Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou and Ua Huka). Decimated by the diseases brought by the Europeans sailors, the marquesan civilisation almost disappeared at the beginning of the century and those who survived attempt to rediscover the richness of culture. Connected after the second world war to French Polynesia the islands experience a very limited economic development.

 

 

 

OBSERVATIONS / PRATICALITIES

WHAT TO BRING :
For better diving comfort, bring a mask, flippers and full wet suit 3 to 5 mm, underwater light, and your diving computer. The dive center loan, steel tank, shorty, jacket(scubapro), regulator R 190 (scubapro), weight belt, flippers, mask...
Warning: Bagage allowance 20 kg on Air Tahiti flights.The price of the dives includes the loan of diving material.
Possess a current diving certification card from a recognized scuba diving instructional agency.

ENTRY:
Except for French citizens, anyone visiting French Polynesia needs a passport.
Citizens of Argentina, Canada, Chilli, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.S, and some other European country can stay up to one month without a visa.

MONEY:
The unit currency in French Polynesia is the franc CFP, whose value is tied to the French franc and euro. 1 US$ = "100 FCP" that depend the currency.
Exchange only at the Taiohae bank, some hotels accepts credit cards.
Note that there is a weekly limit of 35000 CFP for ATM withdrawals or advances from any one account.
The C.P.M don't accept credit cards.

TIME:
The Marquesas are a half-hour ahead of the rest of French Polynesia (noon in Tahiti is 12:30pm in Marquesas).

ELECTRICITY:
The electricity is usually 220 V, Sockets are generally the European two round pin style.

Health:
The mosquitoes and nonos (no see'ums, biting flies) have bad reputation, but are in fact not so annoying if you protect yourself properly: light trousers, and insect repellent are recommended for valley excursions. No obligatory vaccinations.

SHOPPING:
The Marquesans handicrafts are well known for their tattoos and woodcarving.

 

 

 


PRINCIPAL DIVING SPOTS IN NUKU HIVA

With more than one hundred kilometers of basalt coast line beaten by the by the pacific ocean, Nuku Hiva is a privileged land for under water exploration, a large number of caves teeming with spectacular fauna. And of course the hammerhead sharks have not been forgotten. The Marquesas Diving Center organise daily outing more than ten dives sites, of which the most remarkable are:


1) HAMMER HEAD GUARD ROCK:
It is always impressive to come across, in the deep, manta an rays and a wide diversity of marine life. More surprising still, and very rare, to spot hammerhead sharks with such regularity. This is virtually guaranteed to happen between the surface to 90 ft. According to statistics compiled by the Marquesas Diving Center, divers have a 70% chance of spotting hammerhead during their dive. Usually the sharks pass by at a depth of less than 15m, 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 amounts to 20m on average, but can be reduced to 5m at low tide when the current, flowing out of the bay, carries particles. In this case, 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 scorpion fish, and shells are plentiful, including the Gauguini, a rare species endemic to the Marquesas that is ideal for macro photography. Ten minutes by boat ride. Expertise rating: Intermediate.


2) TIKAPO ROCK:
This site boasts a spectacular topography. Rising from the depths, a rocky peak brush the surface. Found at the exit of Taipiva´ valley (where Herman Melville stayed, and hence wrote his book Taipee), domited by the cliff approximately 400m faced off Cap Martin, where hundreds off birds nest. Tikapo a perfect place for spotting a dense population of both pelagic and reef species. Photographers will enjoy this site, particulary for shooting pelagics, as the current is too tricky to master close-ups of smaller fish. Going around the peak, you will come upon impressive schools of trevellies, unicorn fish and barracuda sweeping around in search of easy pickings. There are large numbers of jacks, abundant groups of eagle rays and, parrotfish, triggerfish, butterfly fish, puffer fish, soldier fish, and hunting packs of dogteeth tuna, together with scorpion fish around the crevices. White tip reef sharks are also common here. Invertebrates are relatively limited, except for porcelain crabs, urchins and encrusting sponges that form delicate orange patches. Site exposed to the swell and sea wind. Half an hour by boat ride. Expertise rating: Intermediate.


3) THE PYGMY ORCAS
This site is one of the most stunning in all of French Polynesia. Please note that good weather conditions are essential, as this 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, with their noses emerging, vertical or horizontal, sometimes playing, some times motionless. Snorkelling is the best way to approach them. 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. The site itself is quite impressive, since it is anywhere between 300m and 1km off the coast, in a blue sea. Occasionally, one can also see yellofin tuna and sail fish cruising through this area. About 40 minutes by boat ride. Expertise rating: Novice.


4) EKAMAKO CAVE
This site offers an unforgettable cave diving experience and provides a unique opportunity to approach stingrays .It centers on a large, open-fronted cavern deeply undercutting the basaltic cliff at 10m. A flashlight is indispensable for exploring the cavern. Upon entering, you will cross a vast chamber that continues on the right until a freshwater resurgence; on the left, it slopes up smoothly to a large air pocket. The sandy bottoms of both sections are 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 and sleeping lobsters. Given the shallow depth, you will have plenty time to explore all the nooks and crannies of the cave. 15 minutes by boat ride. Expertise rating: Intermediate.


5) MOTUMANO POINT
This strategic location exposed to open sea current, acts as magnet for pelagic. Numerous sharks, in particular hammerheads and white tip 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 .Be on the lookout for schools of snappers, barracuda, trevallies and the star attractions of the dive, manta rays and hammerheads. White tip reef sharks tend to gather around the extremity of the tip, an area subject to a surge and strong currents. 30 minutes by boat ride.Expertise rating: Novice.


6) MATATETEIKO
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 100m toward the open sea. Entry place in a sheltered inlet next to the emerging platform. The descent is gradual until 30m.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, treallies, tuna and white tip 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 soldier fish, octopuses, lobsters and snapers. 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. 40 minutes by boat ride. Expertise rating: Intermediate.


7) DULCINEA
Dulcinea consists of a rocky seamount brushing the surface in a protected bay. It features an interesting underwater topography that is divided into two connected tunnels shaped like an inverted V. The site is typically profuse with snapers, urchins, shells, lobsters and other crustaceans, together with curtains of soldier fish that provide a magnificent backdrop for photographer near the exit. Novice divers wishing to experience cave diving will appreciate this site because the conditions are optimal. Though a flashlight is recommended, you never loose sight of natural light. 15 minutes by boat ride. Expert rating: Novice.

 


DIVING CONDITIONS:


Water temperature: 28░ all year round. Since the Marquesan waters are devoid of any protective barrier reefs, divers should be prepared to cope with sometimes difficult conditions, particulary the swell, to get to the site.
Certain site need good experience.
For melon Headed whale (pygmy orca): January to April.
Best time for hammerhead sharks: June to November.
Pacific manta ray and all the fauna are present all year round.

 

 

 


DIVING RATES

 

1 DIVE 68 US $ 50 Euros
DOUBLE TANK-DIVES 125 US $ 92 Euros
5 DIVES 312 US $ 227 Euros
10 DIVES 625 US $ 462 Euros

 

All gears are included in the diving rates except computers

 

PRIVATE DIVE (1 to 3 pax) 550 US $ 417 Euros

 

 

 


IMFORMATIONS

100 FCP : 1$ US (depend the currency)

No accept Credit cards

 

 


For more imfomations , please contact :

XAVIER CURVAT

PHONE / FAX : (689) 920.088

or by mail at : marquisesdives@mail.pf

 

INFOS
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