Diving in French Polynesia is recommended only for experienced divers—particularly in the Tuamotus, where currents inside underwater passes can make diving difficult. Following is information about Paul Gauguin Cruises’ policy regarding SCUBA diving.
The maximum number of divers is five for an instructor with a rating of BEES1, six for an instructor with a rating of BEES2 or MF2. If guests are Rescue Divers, dive masters, or instructors, they can “buddy up" and be added to a group of divers
There is no rain restriction on diving. Wind, however, can impact sea conditions and affect the Zodiac® transport craft. Paul Gauguin Cruises reserves the right to cancel a dive if the sea becomes too rough.
In the Tuamotus, the current in underwater passes can be very strong, so the dive must take place in the first hour after the slack tide.
Guests must be in good physical condition in order to SCUBA dive from the m/s Paul Gauguin, and they must possess a valid recent medical certificate if they have a pre-existing medical condition that might prevent them from attending SCUBA dives. Before signing up for a dive, divers at all levels of experience must meet with one of our dive instructors and also fill out a medical questionnaire and a liability disclaimer. Depending on the results of the questionnaire, they may also be asked to consult with the ship’s doctor. The marina team reserves the right to refuse permission to dive if the guest does not meet physical requirements. All doctors' certificates must be official with letterhead, stamps or registration numbers.
Children under 10 years old are not permitted to dive. Guests age 65 or over are encouraged to bring a medical certificate stating that they are fit for diving or they will be required to visit the onboard doctor if they have a pre-existing medical condition.
Recent dive experience:
Guests who have not done any diving in the past year must complete a refresher dive before diving. A minimum of 10 dives in the past year is required of guests who want to dive in the Tuamotus. Guests must also qualify as "active advanced divers" (see below).
Active advanced divers:
If a guest wishes to embark on a dive at the “active advanced diver” level, he or she must have logged 100 or more dives and must have their logbooks with them.
To comply with the French Polynesian SCUBA diving regulation, maximum depth on the majority of dives will be 66 feet (20 meters) when divers are Open Water certified. For dives farther below the maximum depth, an Advance Open Water Certification plus Deep Diver Specialty is manadatory. (Drift dive in Fakarava and dives in the Marquesas Islands) Deep Diver Certification is available onboard for an additional $99 USD.
Enriched-Air Nitrox Policy:
To be able to dive with Enriched Air Nitrox, the diver must have a nitrox certification of 21%- 40% (40%-100% for advanced nitrox divers). You may earn your Nitrox certification onboard by reading the informational booklet, DVD, and passing a 25 question test. Once passed, you may dive with Nitrox for no additional fee.
For the enriched-air Nitrox, a cylinder containing a non-standard blend of gas must be clearly marked. All cylinders must have a tag that states the oxygen content of the cylinder (a minimum of 32% oxygen is required), the date it was blended, the gas blender's name, and the maximum operating depth, along with the partial pressure used for calculation. The air quality of the cylinder must be analyzed and approved in writing prior to the dive.
The following safety equipment is taken on every dive:
- VHF radio on channels 71 and 16
- Alpha flag
- Spare O-rings
- Spare regulator
- Spare mask
- Oxygen kit
- A list of the divers, the site, groups, surface watch, and diving director
A cellular phone in case VHF is out of range of the dive site
Prior to departure, a member of the dive team calls the bridge with the details, including the dive site, number of crew members on the dive, the number of divers, and the number of boats. A second call is made when the divers are returning to the marina.
PADI Certification is not available outside of French Polynesia. Diving certifications are subject to availability.