Rangiroa, French Polynesia  April 2008 Hotel:                       Novotel Rangiroa Lagoon Resort Diving center:          Six Passengers Duration:                  6 days Diving experience:  Advanced Open Water Certificate, Dive 252 - 270 Assessment: Hotel Satisfaction in % Comments   Overall impression 65 Room 70 Bedroom, separate room for shower, sink, and restroom Meals 70 breakfast offered baguette, cold cuts, cheese, fruits, various cereal, pancakes and freshly ordered eggs any style; dinner consisted mostly of rich sauces and tapas of fryed fast food; cocktails, longdrinks, beer, wine available Atmosphere of restaurant 70 half of our stay the restaurant was under construction but actually it was situated nicely at the water Service at restaurant 60 we had the impression that the staff somehow did not like to wait on tables in English; when service eventually arrived they were very friendly Ratio of price/ performance 60 Resort 70 Pool N/A Cleanliness/ hygiene 70 Beach 50 the beach consisted of corals not sand and there wasn't much of it; getting into the water was kind of difficult due to the coral blocks           Diving Satisfaction in % Comments     Variety of diving spots 60 there were two dive spots: the northern channel and the southern channel, the dives varied depending on the incoming or outgoing current Quality of diving spots 100 Quality of boat 70 speed rubber boat Service on board 80 staff helped into and out of the jackets, you were either pulled into the boat by staff or could use the ladder in the rear Meals on board N/A Service at diving centre 70 girl's equipment was being carried back to the dive centre Quality of diving centre 70 huge flat TV screen but the locker for the dive equipment looked rotten and the locks did not look promising, however all major and minor problems were solved imidiatly with great friendliness Ratio of price/ performance 70 Equipment 80 shortys only Briefings/ Safety 80           Location Satisfaction in % Comments     Accessibility/ transport connection 60 24hours: flight from Frankfurt via L.A. to Papeete, Tahiti where we arrived so late that we had to have a stop-over before the flight went to Rangiroa the next morning Nightlife 50 none except for drinks at the bar which was fine for us Shopping facilities 50 there is a village on either side of Rangiroa with a 12km road in between; in the bigger village there are a few super-markets, a couple of boutiques, and a few black perl farms Other activities 50 sailing, bicycle, kayaking Diving: Diving certainly was one of our best experiences. The visibility is enormous, probably 50 to 70m. The water is crystal clear and even swimming in the blue we did not see any plankton. Most of the times we dove at the northern channel: When there was incoming current, we could actually jump into the blue water and do a drift dive through the channel. We usually spent some time in the blue waiting for curious sharks to come up from the deep or for some residential dolphins. One of the dolphins really enjoyed being petted by the divers, which got him the nickname "touch me". Normally, we do not like to touch anything underneath the water but with this fellow you decided on his own to swim up to us we made an exception. The touch of a dophin is different from what we expected, it feels like the rubber of a fin. Some other dive centres lure the sharks with chum but Six Passengers never did. To attract the sharks the dive guide sometimes took a plastik bottle to twist and make "chewing" noise under water. It was amazing how the sharks arose from the deep. There were about 20 surrounding us and even mingling with the dolphins. They usually stayed for 5-10 minutes before they lost interest in us and went back down. When drifting through the channel we could still see some sharks, some eagle rays, and even mantas. Some other divers saw two great hammer heads while we were there but they had waited around the channel for 20 minutes before they spotted them. We were not as lucky. The dive usually ended when we reached the lagoon. When there was outgoing current, the water was pretty rough because the waves and the current were clashing. Diving the channel when there is outgoing current is absolutely forbidden because the current would pull you out and down. The diving therefore took place along the reef. The sharks we saw at the northern channel were grey reef sharks and white tips. We went to the southern channel twice: The boat ride to the southern channel is about an hour, that is why the dive centre only offers the trip every 3rd day. The dive side was beautiful due to the hard corals and we saw silver tip sharks for the first time, pretty massive sharks. Six-Passengers is very strict about the law and the depth-limits. I.e. Divers with AOWD and less certifications are not allowed to dive deeper than 30m (which is sometimes a shame as the grey reefs may gather around 40-50m), Rescue and Master-Divers are allowed down to 50m and instructors 60m (or so). Experience etc. does unfortunatly not count and we saw the police coming by the dive shop once during our stay.   Hotel: The Novotel is one of two hotels on the island, the rest of the accomodation are pensions. The Novotel is certainly the less luxurous hotel, Kia Oro is the other hotel. Kia Oro has water bungalows, a swimming pool and staff that is fluent in English. It is really close to the dive centre Six Passengers and we had lunch there one day. The Novotel seems less professional. The hotel is right in the middle of the island, pretty close to the airport. Surprisingly, the airport did not bother us, there was not a lot of traffic and thus noise. There is one road on the island that stretches from one end of the island to another, 12 km long (and no traffic light ;-) Since a lot of people travel to 3 or more islands during their stay in Polynesia, the staff is offering immediate help with the booking of activities. When we arrived around 11 in the morning, the receptionist called Six  Passenger immediately and arranged our pick-up for the first dive at 2 pm the same day, something that really delighted us. We had a garden double-bungalow. Not seeing the ocean we contemplated to take an upgrade to a water bungalow but spending most of the day diving we did not want to pay the ridiculous extra-charge of 100 Euro per day. So we settled in our garden bungolow and did not hear a thing from our neighbors. Being used to outside showers from the Maldives, we were a little disappointed that the bathroom at Novotel. Hygiene: The room was clean... if you did not look into the corners or behind doors. Closing the bathroom door - something the cleaning maid obviously hadn't done - you could see hair from previous guests and some dead spiders. Also the inside of the closets was awfully dusty, which we discovered to late when pulling out our travelling bags. Now to the beach: In front of the bar/ cafe and in front of the water bungalows there was a narrow coral beach with sun chairs. You could decide if you wanted to lay in front of other people's bungalows or other people's lunch.. When returning from the dives, we usually settled down with a book and a drink for the latter.   Restaurant/ Staff: The restaurant and the bar/ cafe is situated right at the water. Unfortunately, the roof of the restaurant was being renovated for the first two days of our stay, so the restaurant's side with view of the water was closed. Like most others, we decided to have our dinner at the bar with the open view to the lagoone. Not all of the restaurant staff was able to speak English and we also got the impression that they did not really like to wait on guests in English. It often took a long time until we were able to order. If they arrived, they were really friendly. We often saw our dive guides at Novotel as well. The hotel is also a meeting point for the locals, quite in the contrary to the Kia Ora where locals are not welcome, we were told. We welcomed this mentality at Novotel.   But none of the above mentioned disadvantages, belittled enjoying our vacation and the great diving. But now the pictures!