Despite the limited tourist infrastructure, this tiny atoll provides a delightful escape. There are superb and easily accessible beaches, numerous snorkelling spots, lots of fish and one of the few noteworthy archaeological sites in the Tuamotus. Air Tahiti flights make it possible to spend a pleasant weekend here.
The structure of the Mataiva lagoon gives it a particular appearance: the coral constructions at the surface of the water create dividing walls 50m to 300m wide, forming about 70 basins with a maximum depth of 10m. Seen from a plane, the play of light on this underwater tessellation forms a mosaic of green.
Plans to mine the lagoon substratum, which contains about 70 separate phosphate deposits, have been halted due to the community's determined opposition. The accessible part is estimated to contain 12 million tonnes, enough for 10 to 15 years of mining. Large-scale industrial activity in such a restricted space would undoubtedly cause ecological problems but that may not be enough reason for the Tahitian government to stop pushing for mining rights.
The village of Pahua is divided by a pass a few metres wide and no deeper than 1.5m, suitable only for very small boats. A bridge spans the pass and links the two parts of the village.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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