Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic
EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog

Expedition Recon: Palm Isles of Fakarava & Night Dives

Update from Sven-Olof Lindblad, who is in the South Pacific right now leading a reconnaissance trip to seek out never-before-offered experiences and ultimate snorkel and dive sites for guests on our five new 2018 South Pacific & French Polynesia expeditions.

The black tips are still cruising our stern, the breeze is cool and the sunrise perfect. Part of me wishes we could stay here all week.

We pack up gear, lather on sun lotion, and head out to explore the motu, islets of sand and palms.

Photo Justin DeShields

The morning incoming tide starts at 11:30, bringing clear water into the South Pass. Everything here revolves around the tide. The flats around the motu are very shallow. They surround the islands with an incredible blue which feeds into our fantasy of Polynesia. “Be careful of standing under coconut trees,” our dive masters tell us. “I know, as once I was resting under one in the Seychelles and a huge one fell beside me. Lesson learned.”

We see a huge flock of white-capped noddies diving into the deeper water, which is so clear we can see their prey. It’s a dramatic sight as the sea boils with small fish driven to the surface by large trevalli.

Photo Kristin Hettermann

We head back to our boat to catch the incoming tide. This time we dive the outer wall and drift back into the lagoon. It’s a stunning site. Beautiful coral that the locals refer to as roses covers the bottom at 30 meters and then just falls off to hundreds of meters. It’s a deep, haunting blue and dozens of sharks—grey reef, silver tip, and coral—cruise this divide. We begin to drift into the channel, picking up speed. It’s magical, no effort needed. Fish everywhere, a reef that is so healthy that you get a feeling that all’s good in the ocean.

I wish I could just stay here for hours, but we are limited, requiring clumsy gear to be in this ocean realm, and, of course, air, 45 minutes at a time.

Photo Justin DeShields

We all finish the dive elated. A quick turn around and off to snorkel in the shallows. I’m convinced this is the best spot I’ve ever snorkeled in my life. A gentle drop off, almost total coral cover, all kinds of fish, Napoleon Wrasse, goatfish, paddletail snapper, angelfish and more. And always, the lab-like black tips cruising the shallows. The setting sun is spectacular, and for most the day would be done. For us, there is one more adventure.

Photo Vincent Truchet

There are at least 30 sharks cruising our stern. Vincent and Melo, our dive masters, brief us. “Diving with sharks at night is different,” they say. “They are hunting now and their behavior is very different. Of course they are not interested in us but nevertheless it is important to be aware.” We suit up and the adrenaline begins to pump as strongly as the current. “Keep your bodies tight,” says Vincent. “And let’s all stay together.”

Photo Justin DeShields

Down we go into the black. The boat’s underwater lights provide an eerie glow. Sharks dart in and out of the light with purpose. We sit on the bottom and look up. After a bit Vincent feels comfortable enough to move up into the water column. We are now surrounded by hunting sharks. It’s crazy, exciting, and beautiful. I’m somehow totally calm and happy to be in their realm right after lunch. We get back on the boat and the conversation over dinner was abuzz over accounts of our most spectacular day.

— Sven-Olof Lindblad