Manihi is the least developed of the four main Tuamotu islands and at 520 km (325 mi) from Tahiti, the farthest away. It was first inhabited around AD 600 and the remains of an ancient coral marae (ancient temple), the Kamoka, are located on the southern edge, between two of the only three pensions on the island. Dutch explorers Jacob le Maire and Willem Schouten sighted the island in 1615. Today Manihi is a major center of black pearl production with about 60 farms dotting the lagoon whose emerald waters are said to provide the perfect temperature, density, and salinity for pearl cultivation. The first farm in French Polynesia was established here in 1968. Divers come to Manihi to explore the Tairapa Pass, where they drift dive with gray sharks, turtles, and huge fish; another favorite spot is a coral garden called The Circus.
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