At some point in every diver’s life, there comes a need for speed. This is when many turn to the option of drift diving rather swimming into the current. “Going with the flow”, of the current that is, the entire dive gives them speed that otherwise is unheard of.
There are many places throughout the globe that are excellent locations to drift freely. In this two part series, we’ll look at some spots known to be a drift divers dream. Let’s dive right into it.
TUMAKOHUA PASS – Fakarava
Found in the remote Tuamotus Islands of French Polynesia, Fakarava is a diver’s dream. But beware, this place it not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for an adventurous dive, this is your spot.
On the south end of the isle, divers hit the water at the mouth of Tumakohua Pass. This narrow channel leads into the atoll lagoon. On an incoming tide, the current sucks divers into the channel like water down a drain, reaching speeds up to 4 knots, which is about 4.6 miles per hour. Divers start in the open sea and then swim toward the mouth of the pass where they find the gray-shark wall. This signature feature is a towering gauntlet of sharks. Hundreds of grays, blacktips, whitetips and more guard the entrance. Once into the pass, divers sweep past the walls ornamented by coral, through schools of Humphead Wrasses before they’re ejected into the calm waters of the lagoon.
CLUTHA RIVER- New Zealand
This river is for serious drift divers looking to give themselves over to the current. Owners of Descend Scubadiving, Lance McKirdy and Simone Schreck, have established a truly ripping drift on the Clutha River. They go as far to say that it may be the fastest drift in the world. The two are well acquainted with nearly 20 miles of the river and have customized the dive based on experience levels. Advanced drifters looking for the ultimate thrill, can run a section nearly four miles long, where currents up to 12 mph sweep divers over boulder fields, beneath class-three rapids and through whirlpools. This area, known as Devil’s Nook, is one of the strongest switchback rapids in the world. The river makes a 90-degree turn and creates a powerful whirlpool making it possible to dive through the eye of it, where large ironstones spin with the force of the water. In my opinion, it sounds like an underwater tornado.
MOLOKiNI BACKWALL – Maui
The Back Wall of Molokini has long been considered one of the best wall dives in American waters. It’s one of those spots in the ocean where almost anything can happen. Located just minutes from the Maui town of Kihei, the wall rises vertically from the Auau Channel. The sheer backside of this crescent-shaped cinder cone sits at the heart of humpback territory. Divers who dare to enter, splash into the frothing white water make a fast descent into a jungle gym of house-size boulders and volcanic fissures packed with whitetip reef sharks. Kicking off the wall, you’ll see a multitude of pelagic fish such as giant Pacific mantas and whale sharks doing their feeding dance to the tune of a whale’s song.