Can you say SCUBA?

The m/s Paul Gauguin offers PADI certification on board. All dives offered are guided by a professional PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Dive Master/Instructor. Each is skilled in ensuring that you have the best dive possible, from helping you identify and improve your level of experience to seeking out the most rewarding dive locales.

Plus, The Gauguin is fully equipped, including an onboard practice pool, a tank-filling station, and two inflatable dive boats with ladders. Each holds eight divers and two instructors. No tender to shore is needed—you simply leave from the marina platform of the ship and return to it after your dive, where a warm shower awaits.

And on top of that, we take care of all the details for you, from set-up and gearing you before you enter the water to leading you through the deep. The only thing you have to do is breathe.

How to Sign Up for SCUBA Diving Aboard The Gauguin

All guests wishing to dive from The Gauguin need to bring either proof of certification and a logbook or take a diving course. You may sign up for a dive at the dive desk, located near the Travel Concierge Desk. If you are a certified diver, simply identify yourself to the Sport Coordinators at the Dive Desk on the first day of the cruise. As a licensed PADI Resort,The Gauguin recognizes divers from all international certifying agencies.

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, you may also be asked to consult with the ship’s doctor.

Many dives are available to pre-reserve. Please check the tour description for dives available to pre-reserve.

How to Book a Diving Certification Program

If you are not a certified SCUBA diver and have always wanted to try SCUBA, a Discover SCUBA Diving (DSD) class is available. The course consists of one hour of theory and a one-hour pool session. It is brief, safe, and a rewarding experience for those participating. All diving certification courses must be booked on board at the Dive Desk. The DSD class and beginners’ dives can be booked online prior to your cruise.

Certification Offered

The resort certification or Discover SCUBA Diving program offered aboard The Gauguin is the beginning of the PADI open-water diver course. If you sign up for one dive on board The Gauguin after completing a Discover SCUBA Diving course, you are registered with PADI and receive credit for one confined-water (pool) session and one open-water dive. This certification can be used for up to one year for a dive of up to 40 feet with a dive instructor at any PADI dive center around the world.

To complete the full PADI open-water diver certification, you must complete five confined-water (pool) sessions, four open-water dives, five chapters of the open-water diver manual, and a final exam, for a total of about 40 hours.

Enriched-Air Nitrox

Enriched Air Nitrox allows you to take longer dives before reaching the non-decompression limit and diminishes the risks of decompression sickness for multiple dive trips. You now have the opportunity to get your Nitrox certification on board The Gauguin. Enroll in the course and get certified for $120, including booklet.

Open-Water Certification

Full Open-Water certification includes these requirements:

  • Knowledge Development (theory): Text (five chapters of the open-water diver manual) and video study of basic diving techniques and the effects of diving on the body, diving safety, equipment selection and maintenance, and dive planning. Each chapter is completed by passing written exams plus a final exam.
  • Confined-Water Training: Demonstration of skills during a session in a pool or shallow lagoon.

Open-Water certification is usually offered on board at a price of $859 (USD), depending on the availability of the instructors. In order to expedite the process and maximize diving time is available during the cruise, guests are encouraged to complete the theory portion of the training online at the PADI website prior to embarking ship.

If possible, guests are also encouraged to complete their pool sessions in a PADI dive shop in advance, to considerably reduce the time involved in getting certified during their cruise. Once these pool sessions are complete and referral forms are obtained, guests need only complete four open-water dives to get certified. These four open-water dives are sold on board for $599 to complete your certification.

Diver Certifications for Minors

You must be at least 10 years old to receive a Junior Open-Water Diver certification. Ten- and 11-year-old Junior Open-Water Divers must dive with a certified parent, guardian, or PADI Professional to a maximum depth of 40 feet (12 meters). Twelve- to 14-year-olds must dive with a certified adult. At age 15, the Junior certification upgrades to a regular Open-Water Diver Certification. Divers with Junior Open Water and SCUBA Diver certification may not be able to participate in all dives due to limitations imposed by these certifications.

RESTRICTIONS: You must be a reasonably proficient swimmer and comfortable in the water. You must swim 200 yards/meters nonstop, without a time or specific stroke requirement, or a 300-yard/meter swim with mask, fins, and snorkel. You’ll also perform a ten-minute tread/float.

Divers who have not dived within the last six months and cannot provide proof of a SCUBA review course since their last dive may be requested to participate in a SCUBA review course on board prior to a dive in the open water.

To SCUBA dive safely, you must not be extremely overweight or out of condition. Diving can be strenuous under certain conditions. Your respiratory and circulatory systems must be in good health. All body air spaces must be normal and healthy. A person with coronary disease, a current cold or congestion, epilepsy, or a severe medical problem, or who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs should not dive. If you have asthma, heart disease, or other chronic medical conditions, or if you are taking medications on a regular basis, you should consult your doctor and the instructor before participating in this program. Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant also should not dive.

PADI Certification is not available outside of French Polynesia. Diving certifications are subject to availability.

Maud Tarico

Hailing from France, Maud Tarico has been diving since the age of 23, entranced by the underwater world’s silence, three-dimensional quality, and marine life — especially its hammerhead and tiger sharks.

Aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin, she is dedicated to making our guests happy while also sharing her passion for diving and helping them discover marine life and care about the delicate environment in which our ship sails. Aboard ship, she appreciates the opportunity to dive in different spots, depending on the itinerary. “French Polynesia offers the best dives, with clear water and different species of sharks,” she says.

When not at sea, Maud enjoys traveling, athletics, and reading.

Sail on select voyages with Sport Coordinator Maud Tarico on board The Gauguin.

Karim Djoudi

Karim lives to be in the water and to teach our guests all about the amazing underwater world of French Polynesia.

Karim started diving 20 years ago in Marseille, France. In the years since, he has explored other famous French dive spots, such as Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea and Mayote in the Indian Ocean. During his 8 years living in Bali, Indonesia, he explored the waters extensively, including in nearby Komodo Island and Rajat Ampat. On board the m/s Paul Gauguin for three years now, Karim has deemed the waters of French Polynesia one of his favorite diving spots in the world because of it’s crystalline waters. As much as he loves being in the water, he says his favorite part of his job is to see the guests’ gigantic smiles when they come out of the water.

Sail on select voyages with Marina Supervisor Karim Djoudi on board The Gauguin.

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.

Diver/instructor ratio:
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

Weather conditions:
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.

Physical condition:
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.

Age limits:
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.

Maximum Depth:
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.

We encourage guests to take advantage of the opportunity to review and complete the Discover SCUBA Beginner or Certified Divers forms, which contain a medical questionnaire and liability disclaimer, prior to embarking the m/s Paul Gauguin. Simply, download and print the forms, review and complete them, then bring these aboard the cruise. Before signing up for a dive, divers at all levels of experience must meet with one of our dive instructions to review the forms on the first day of the cruise. Depending on responses on the forms, guests may also be asked to consult with the ship’s doctor before booking a dive.

PADI Certification is not available outside of French Polynesia. Diving certifications are subject to availability.

Please download the appropriate forms below.

Beginner Divers Form

Certified Divers Form

Float effortlessly over rainbow-colored coral reefs and come nose to nose with parrotfish, clownfish, giant clams, and sea turtles. Dive deeper to swim alongside colorful sea anemones, eagle rays, sharks, and octopi. Polynesia’s translucent, shimmering aqua lagoons are begging to be explored. And there’s no better place to do so than from the m/s Paul Gauguin’s retractable watersports marina, where you can embark on an optional SCUBA adventure.

Even if you have never SCUBA dived before, as a guest aboard The Gauguin, you can witness spectacular marine life up close and swim among beautiful, rainbow-colored coral reefs within a matter of hours. The Gauguin’s SCUBA diving excursions are designed for all levels of experience, and offer PADI certification on board for novice divers, as well as refresher courses.

Here are highlights of what else you might expect to find in dives off specific islands along the path of your itinerary:

Moorea—Catch a glimpse of black-tipped reef sharks, lemon sharks, impressively large moray eel, sea turtles, and barracudas.
Bora Bora—View lemon sharks and manta rays up close.

Rangiroa & Fakarava—In this premier diving location, look for hammerhead sharks (December-February) or manta rays (September-October). In addition, dolphins, turtles, eagle rays, barracuda, and other fascinating fish species are often spotted here, among coral reefs and canyon passes – including Fakarava’s reef, a UNESCO-Classified Nature Reserve.

Aitutaki—Dive along the sheer drop off and large coral bommies to come across impressively large hawksbill turtles, white tip reef sharks resting on the sea floor, friendly emperor angel fish and occasional eagle rays.

The Marquesas Islands are among the best diving spots in the world. The Gauguin offers you your only opportunity to explore the underwater world of the Marquesas, as there are no dive centers in these remote but pristine islands.

Nuku Hiva—The steep cliffs and caves off this island reveal a variety of unusual marine life, including hammerhead sharks, manta rays, moray eel, manta rays, and scorpion fish.
Tahuata—Jump into an underwater wilderness and observe grey sharks, Hiva Oa manta rays, dragon moray eel, lobster, and schools of juvenile fish dancing among predators such as giant trevally or tuna.
For the safety of the guests, diving is available in the Marquesas for advanced Open-Water Certified divers with the Deep Diver Specialty Certification only, as dives are 60 feet minimum.

To view all available dives by destination, click here.

PADI Certification is not available outside of French Polynesia. Diving certifications are subject to availability.


What kind of SCUBA equipment you are providing aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin?

When you sign up for a dive, everything is included except the dive computer. You will get a BCD, a regulator, a 3mm shorty (only for divers), and a weight belt (or weight for your integrated weight BCD). The tanks provided are 12L aluminum (80 cubic). Noncompensated 15L (100 cubic) steel tanks are also available for heavier breathers.

What are the prices for the dives?

  • $50 Refresher course (compulsory for those who have not been diving for over a year)
  • $99 PADI Discover SCUBA Dive course pool session
  • $129 PADI Discover SCUBA Dive course per any additional dive
  • $109 Single-tank day dive
  • $120 Single-tank night dive
  • $129 Intro dive (see question below about beginning divers who would like to try
  • SCUBA diving)
  • $215 Two-tank day dive

What are the prices to obtain PADI certifications on board?

  • $120 PADI Enriched-Air Nitrox Course (for certified divers who wish to extend their skills with enriched-gas-mix diving): Price includes book, exam, and certification fee.
  • $319 PADI SCUBA Referral Diver Course (for divers who have completed the pool session and a class before embarking the ship): Two dives are required to complete your SCUBA diver certification. You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $499 PADI SCUBA Diver Course (complete course): Includes three pool sessions, theory lessons and exams, and two open-water dives. You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $599 PADI SCUBA Referral Open-Water Course (for those who require only four dives to complete their Open-Water Diver certification): You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $570 PADI Advanced Diver Course (for those who already have the Open-Water Diver certification but would like to advance to the next level): Five dives are required, including one deep dive of 100 feet and one navigation dive. You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $99 PADI Deep Diver Specialty Certification (for those already with Advanced Open Water Certification wishing to participate in dives in the Marquesas Islands.
  • $859 PADI Open-Water Diver Course (complete course): Includes five pool sessions, theory lessons and exams, and four open-water dives. You will obtain the certification on board.

Please advise what is the best method, location, and time to book my dives ?

As soon as you are on board The Gauguin, you should visit the Dive Desk (Deck 4 lobby) to complete the requested forms and to sign up for dives. A medical questionnaire is part of the form, so if you have a preexisting condition that might affect your safety, we recommend that you bring a note from your physician. The forms are also found online, so you can also complete them in advance of your cruise. Some dives may be pre-reserved and some dives must be booked onboard. Please refer to the dive descriptions for additional details.

Certain dives, such as those in Rangiroa and Fakarava, cannot be pre-reserved via Paul Gauguin Cruises. Why is that?

Only dives that are operated directly from The Gauguin can be pre-reserved with us. Some dives may be pre-reserved and some dives must be booked onboard. Please refer to the dive descriptions for additional details. In Rangiroa and the Cooks Islands, we use the services of local third-party operators. These dives are operated on a space-available basis only and might not be available.

I prefer to use my own suit and SCUBA gear, as I am more familiar/comfortable with them. Are there hanging storage/drying lockers for our gear (separate from our stateroom) during the sailing?

Divers can store their SCUBA gear at the Marina.

I am beginner and would like to try SCUBA diving. What can I do to achieve this on board The Gauguin?

There are two ways to try SCUBA diving during your cruise:

1. Intro Dive ($129):
Available only in Taha’a, this dive occurs in the lagoon in very shallow water (maximum depth: 18 feet) for 45 minutes. This dive is a tour only; no skills are required. Ratio: 1 instructor to 2 divers.

2. PADI Discover SCUBA Diving (DSD) class ($99 per session):
This class is for those who would like to begin the process of being certified. Each DSD class consists of a swimming-pool session, with an overview of the SCUBA rules and skills. It is usually held in Huahine on the first day of the cruise.

After completing the class, you can sign up for beginners’ dives ($129 per dive), which are sequenced at progressive depths: Toopua in Bora Bora (maximum 20ft); Shark Gallery in Moorea (maximum 40ft); and Nuhi Nuhi in Rangiroa).

Does the PADI Discover SCUBA Diving class give me a dive certification?

No, but it gives you credit toward the Open-Water certification. You will be registered in the PADI network, and if you want to complete your certification, you will have three months to do so.

What if I want to be certified on board?

We always try our best, but we cannot guarantee that it is going to be possible, due to variables such as the number of interested divers and the dive schedule during the cruise.

You can, however, prepare your certification at home and arrive at the ship with a PADI referral form. You will then need only four open-water dives in order to complete the full certification.

I didn't dive for a little while. Do you offer refresher course on board?

Yes. You have two options for refresher courses:

  • $50: Held in the swimming pool on board during the first day of the cruise, in Huahine, depending on the itinerary.
  • $129: Held later in the cruise, in the lagoon off Taha’a. This option consists of a refresher course followed by a dive.

Please see the Dive Desk (Deck 4 Lobby) for more information during embarkation day.

Do I have to take the refresher class?

Yes, if you haven’t dived for more than a year, the policy of the ship requires you to take the refresher class in the swimming pool on board during the first day of the cruise.

I am an advanced, experienced diver. Can I use SCUBA equipment whenever I want or dive on my own with my buddy?

No, French Polynesian diving regulations are very strict and require that you always dive with a PADI or CMAS Instructor.

What kind of boat are you using for the dives?

We have two Zodiacs® that can carry ten divers each.

Can we dive from the marina platform?

No, for safety reasons it is forbidden to dive, swim, or snorkel from the marina platform.

Generally, how are water entries performed: from the edge of the marina deck, from a watercraft such as a Zodiac®, or both?

We use Zodiacs® as dive boats. We never dive or swim from the marina platform for safety reasons. On our dive boats, the most convenient way to make entry is by side roll.

How are exits from the water onto the dive boats performed? Are there ladders?

The member of our marina team who is doing the surface watch on the dive boats takes your weight belt, BCD and tank, and other gear, after which you exit the water and enter the dive boat by means of a ladder.

Are there freshwater rinsing showers and/or soaking tubs for gear?


What spare parts and repair tools are on hand? For example, is it practical to leave my “save a dive” kit at home to reduce luggage weight?

We have regulators (Aqualung) and some BCD spare parts (Aqualung) on board. If we can repair some of our guests’ equipment, we will do it.

What kind of tank valve are you using?

We have yoke-valve tanks. If you have a DIN regulator, please bring your own adaptor, or you can dive with one of our regulators.

What is the water temperature in French Polynesia?

There are generally two seasons, comparable to America’s summer and winter:

  • The summer runs from December through June, when the water temperature is around 83°F (29°C).
  • The winter runs from July through November, when the water temperature is about 76°F (26°C)

What is the average visibility?

Depending on weather conditions, the average visibility is about 100 feet (30 m) except in particular locations (the Marquesas and the manta dive in Bora Bora).

What happens in case of a dive accident?

All the dive instructors on board are EFR (Emergency First Response) certified, and the dive boats have oxygen and a first-aid kit as required by local and ship regulations. A doctor and nurse are also standing by on board The Gauguin, and there is direct communication among the dive boats, the bridge, the ship’s medical center, and the Safety Officer. There is a decompression chamber in Tahiti. Emergency evacuations are performed by helicopter.

Do you take pictures or videos of our dives?


What is the maximum depth allowed?

Overall depth is around 70 feet, and we always dive within the NO decompression time limit so that no decompression stops are required. Some dives for advanced divers with the deep diver certification are around 100 feet. PADI standards and procedures are strictly applied on board The Gauguin.

My spouse is not a diver; can they join us on the dive boat while I am diving with you?

No, only divers are allowed on the dive boat.

Do you have prescription masks?


How long does one dive take, from start to finish?

For a single-tank dive operation, it usually takes about two hours from the meeting time at the marina to the time you are back on board the ship.

On a typical dive, how many guest divers are there? And how many certified dive instructors?

According to French Polynesian law, PADI instructors are able to conduct a group of five divers maximum. We have three PADI instructors on board The Gauguin, so the maximum number of divers is fifteen, divided between two Zodiac® dive boats.

In some parts of the world, gloves are forbidden in marine sanctuaries. Is wearing gloves allowed or not allowed in French Polynesia?

It is allowed but not really necessary.

Is there a mooring line available during dives?

When we arrive on a non-drift dive site, either we attach the boat to an existing mooring, or we drop the anchor. This is for assisting guests in their descent, especially for beginners so they do not need to control their buoyancy. There will most likely be a mooring line on every dive, but is not guaranteed.