Tuamotu Archipelago

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Tuamotu Archipelago - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Avatoru

    Town/Village

    Rangiroa's capital is a small village on Avatoru Pass with two churches (Catholic and Mormon) fashioned from coral, a town hall, post office...

    Rangiroa's capital is a small village on Avatoru Pass with two churches (Catholic and Mormon) fashioned from coral, a town hall, post office, banks, and a couple of general stores. It has an ideal location with access to the lagoon, the ocean's surf beach, and the pass's good diving spot. To experience a true slice of island life, turn up at 10 am on Sunday for one of the church services.

    Main road, Tuamotu-Gambier Islands, French Polynesia
  • 2. Blue Lagoon

    Beach

    This "lagoon with a lagoon" is a popular excursion. The water is sensationally blue and fringed by white sandy beaches and coconut trees. After...

    This "lagoon with a lagoon" is a popular excursion. The water is sensationally blue and fringed by white sandy beaches and coconut trees. After an hour's boat ride from Avatoru, the captain anchors off a small island and guests walk across a seabed strewn with coral (reef shoes required), past a few harmless black-tipped reef sharks, and over the island itself to reach the blue lagoon. The seabed is soft and sandy and the views are magical, but the snorkeling, unfortunately, is nothing special.

  • 3. Gauguin's Pearl Farm

    Farm/Ranch

    The farm is an easy walk from the airport on the edge of the lagoon. A guide, who explains the long and laborious process of cultivating Tahitian...

    The farm is an easy walk from the airport on the edge of the lagoon. A guide, who explains the long and laborious process of cultivating Tahitian black pearls, shows around small groups. Tours take 30 minutes and are fascinating; you'll learn about the Pinctada margaritifera or black-lipped oyster, and watch technicians insert a nucleus (a small shell bead) into the oyster and attach it with a graft of oyster muscle tissue to begin the pearling process. There's a jewelry boutique but it's not a hard-sell experience: a single top-grade pearl can cost 41,000 CFP (about US$530).

    Near airport, Main road, Tuamotu-Gambier Islands, French Polynesia
    -93–11–30

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Mon.–Fri. Tours: 8:30am, 10:30am, 2pm Shop: Mon.–Fri. 8–5:30, Sat. 9–noon, 3–5
  • 4. Ile Aux Oiseaux

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    This island in the middle of the lagoon is a haven for thousands of boobies (birds, people!), sooties, noddies, and terns. It's a noisy day...

    This island in the middle of the lagoon is a haven for thousands of boobies (birds, people!), sooties, noddies, and terns. It's a noisy day out, to say the least, but the birds are amazing and there's usually a picnic included in the trip. Day trips take off from Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort.

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 7,000 CFP., 10am–3pm
  • 5. Ile aux Recifs

    Beach

    The "isle of reefs" is considered the best lagoon excursion of all. Located about an hour due south of Avatoru, it's an area dotted with raised...

    The "isle of reefs" is considered the best lagoon excursion of all. Located about an hour due south of Avatoru, it's an area dotted with raised feo (coral outcrops), some 16 to 19 feet (5 to 6 meters) above the lagoon. These amazing formations are on the ocean side so you'll have to put on your reef shoes to explore them. They stretch about 300 feet (9 meters) and between them are pools perfect for swimming and excellent snorkeling. Picnics are usually held on one of the larger motus.

  • 6. Les Sables Roses

    Beach

    This pink sand beach is in the southeast corner of Rangiroa, reached by a two-hour boat trip. The sands contain eroded coral and foraminiferal...

    This pink sand beach is in the southeast corner of Rangiroa, reached by a two-hour boat trip. The sands contain eroded coral and foraminiferal deposits (the pulverized red shells of tiny sea creatures) which sparkle in the sunlight. Getting here is one of the most expensive lagoon excursions (11,500 to 12,000 CFP for a day trip with picnic), but what you'll get is complete isolation, deserted beaches, and crystal clear water. You could rent a boat and come here on your own, but why would you want to pass up the BBQ and picnic most operators provide?

  • 7. Otepipi

    Town/Village

    This deserted village, complete with church, is on the opposite side of the lagoon to Avatoru, midway between Ile aux Recifs and Les Sables...

    This deserted village, complete with church, is on the opposite side of the lagoon to Avatoru, midway between Ile aux Recifs and Les Sables Roses. At least one operator runs a tour there, which is combined with island-hopping and lunch. For tour information, contact Pension Martine.

    -96–82–67
  • 8. Rotoava

    Town/Village

    Situated on the northeast corner of Fakarava, this village of 860 people is where the action happens on the atoll. There's a pretty Catholic...

    Situated on the northeast corner of Fakarava, this village of 860 people is where the action happens on the atoll. There's a pretty Catholic church, a primary school, a few telephone booths that take phone cards, a pharmacy with a doctor and nurse, and a post office with Internet connection. There is no bank or ATMs but the two general stores now accept credit cards. It does have a 15-km (9-mi) road and a cycling lane, so biking is a fun way to explore the area.

  • 9. Sables Roses

    Beach

    Sables Roses, a tiny motu adrift in Tikehau's gorgeous lagoon, with towering coconut trees and pink-sand beaches. The day trips here are leisurely...

    Sables Roses, a tiny motu adrift in Tikehau's gorgeous lagoon, with towering coconut trees and pink-sand beaches. The day trips here are leisurely affairs—swimming, snorkeling, and beachcombing. When the tide's out it's possible to walk across the shallow channels to other motus and even out to the ocean side.

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 7,000 CFP, 10am–3pm
  • 10. Tetamanu

    Town/Village

    It's hard to believe that this village of a dozen people was once the capital of the Tuamotus. The coral church, built in 1874, is still there...

    It's hard to believe that this village of a dozen people was once the capital of the Tuamotus. The coral church, built in 1874, is still there, along with the Tetamanu Village pension right next to the Tamakohua Pass. The pension operates its own dive center. The owners of the Raimiti pension (about 9.6 km [6 mi] north of the pass) consider themselves Tetamanu citizens and are included in the dozen. The village and pensions are about 48 km (30 mi) from the airport and a 90-minute boat ride away.

  • 11. The Passes

    Sports–Sight

    Avatoru and Tiputa passes offer some of the best drift diving in the world. Divers, accompanied by a guide, are dropped off on the ocean side...

    Avatoru and Tiputa passes offer some of the best drift diving in the world. Divers, accompanied by a guide, are dropped off on the ocean side of the atoll into the fast-moving current and are sucked through the pass by the tide. Feeling an amazing adrenaline rush, divers come (literally) face to face with hundreds of fish, along with giant napoleon wrasses, hawksbill turtles, manta and eagle rays, dolphins, and sharks—gray reefs, lemons, hammerheads, and dozens of black-tips. Snorkeling and glass bottom boat trips explore the calmer waters of the Tiputa Pass, and seek out the dolphins that are cavorting in the waves.

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Snorkeling from 4,000 CFP for two hours; dives 6,450–6,800 CFP; glass-bottom boat trips 3,000 CFP for one hour; dolphin watch cruises and snorkeling in quieter waters from 4,500 CFP for two hours.
  • 12. Tiputa

    Town/Village

    Rangiroa's other little settlement can be reached by a regular ferry service (called a taxi boat) from Ohotu wharf. Tiputa's well kept, with...

    Rangiroa's other little settlement can be reached by a regular ferry service (called a taxi boat) from Ohotu wharf. Tiputa's well kept, with a few houses enclosed by coral fences, St. Michael's Catholic church, and a little school. A great way to explore the village is by bike, which you can take on the ferry for a small fee (400 CFP return; 200 CFP bicycles, 500 CFP scooters).

    Main road, across the Tiputa Pass, Tuamotu-Gambier Islands, French Polynesia
  • 13. Tuherahera

    Town/Village

    The name of the main town and the motu on which the airport is built, this busy little center has four churches (three on the same corner and...

    The name of the main town and the motu on which the airport is built, this busy little center has four churches (three on the same corner and the other near the quay), a town hall, medical center, a general store, and a snack bar, but no bank. Most of the pensions are located near the town and folks are transferred by car; the Tikehau Pearl Resort is 10 minutes away and requires a boat transfer.

  • 14. Turipaoa

    Town/Village

    Also known as Paeua, Manihi's main town is home to most of the atoll's 1,200 people. It's located near Turipaoa Pass (also known as Tairapa...

    Also known as Paeua, Manihi's main town is home to most of the atoll's 1,200 people. It's located near Turipaoa Pass (also known as Tairapa Pass), a renowned diving site. With only a few streets, a grocery story, and Catholic church, it's easy to explore. There are regular free boat transfers between the town and Manihi Pearl Resort, and bikes are welcome on board. There are no banks or ATMs on Manihi.

  • 15. Vin de Tahiti

    Sports–Sight

    Vin de Tahiti. Vin de Tahiti is the only vineyard in the South Pacific—the grapes are grown on a motu in Rangiroa's lagoon. Owner Dominique...

    Vin de Tahiti. Vin de Tahiti is the only vineyard in the South Pacific—the grapes are grown on a motu in Rangiroa's lagoon. Owner Dominique Auroy's estate produces red, white, and rose varieties. Day trips can be arranged to see the vineyard on Motu Ovavan, near the Avatoru Pass, and include a tour of the vines and a tasting at the wine cellar back on Rangiroa. Full-day tours also include a motu picnic. If time is short, you can visit the cellar by yourself for a free tasting. Wine cave about 1.6 km (1 mi) east of Avatoru village, Main road, Tuamotu-Gambier Islands. 46–35–00 in Rangiroa. www.vindetahiti.pf.

    Wine cave about 1.6 km (1 mi) east of Avatoru village, Main road, Tuamotu-Gambier Islands, French Polynesia
    -46–35–00-in Rangiroa

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