Our Best Dives Ever: The Blue Waters of Bora Bora

In this series of posts, each member of the crew recalls some of their best dives they've ever experienced.

This particular story comes from Rick Ratliff,  Owner of Jupiter Scuba Diving. Enjoy!

One of my best dives ever started out as a dive, and ended up as a snorkel from heaven. My wife, Shari, two of my seven children, Erica, Jon-Luke, and myself left out from our floating dive shop off the coast of Bora Bora. The floating dive shop, also known as the Paul Gaugin, was cruising between the islands of French Polynesia. This morning, as every morning, they lowered the back of the ship, and and our Polynesian Crew maneuvered our zodiac dive boat into the water. We were off! The diving had been phenomenal so far so we were all anxiously anticipating our dive. While diving the reef we encountered anemones, clownfish, Napoleon Wrasse, and all sorts exotic and otherworldly fish—living and co-existing where they belong.

JSD Best Dive Ever

I don’t remember how long we had been back in the zodiac boat, headed back to our 300 passenger live aboard. All of the sudden our Polynesian dive guide Nellie asked the six pack captain to slow the boat. “Whales!” he exclaimed. And yes, there was three humpback whales! A mom, a 15 foot baby, and 30 foot teenager. We donned our snorkel gear and slipped into crystal blue water with 100’ VIZ. I remember being so excited to experience this incredible encounter with two of my children and the love of my life, yet nervous that we might scare them away. To our fortune, we didn’t. They allowed us to spend 30-40 minutes around them. I was overwhelmed by their beauty and majesty, felt privileged they would participate in the encounter, and was honored that the mother trusted us to be next to her baby. I was thrilled to see the force of water moved from the fluke of the mother propel my son backwards through that endless, azure pasture. Right after that, our more than excited dive guide said we needed to leave. As overwhelmed as my senses were, I also felt an urge to not move from this magical place and these mystical beings. We hauled aboard and took off for the mother ship—never to be the same. Nellie, our dive guide, to never be the same either. He had dove these waters for twenty years and never had this encounter before.

Shari and I went back for our thirtieth-anniversary, and the cruise line reported the French government had mandated French boat captains and dive masters. Still fun, but not nearly as much as we had with our Polynesian guides. They truly are a special people.

Definitely a dive I'll never forget!


One blessed man,

- Rick


Stay tuned to hear more dive stories from the entire Kyalami crew!

Rick Ratliff