One of the largest and most beautiful atolls in French Polynesia, Fakarava is the stuff of South Seas fantasy. Heavenly white and pink sand, ruffled coconut trees and an unbelievable palette of lagoon blues are the norm here. The atmosphere is supremely relaxed and the infrastructure is quite good, with an assortment of well-run pensions.
Tikehau is a joy. Its unparalleled beauty, endless coral beaches and low-key yet reasonably developed tourist infrastructure make it a real charmer. Time has eroded the ring of coral into sweeping, twisting motu of white and pink sands that engulf little bays, craggy nooks and the vivid turquoise lagoon.
Like stepping into a time machine, this tiny, picturesque atoll is the sort of hideaway that you search for your whole life to discover. Despite the limited tourist infrastructure, it provides a delightful holiday escape and is becoming one of the more popular spots in the archipelago.
Spectacular undersea landscapes, pristine motu and an unhurried pace of life make Makemo an ideal destination for anyone looking for an authentic Paumotu experience. Pouheva village is an administrative and school centre for the central Tuamotus. The church and the lighthouse near the pass are the only sights of significance.
This 20km-long by 10km-wide ring of coral is a charmer. The many hues of its pure aqua-blue water, the foaming breakers around the reef and the thin strips of coral-sand beach of its many deserted motu make for an enchanting scene. It is less developed than many surrounding atolls because of its geography.
Considered the birthplace of the Tahitian pearl industry, Manihi is a classically gorgeous atoll with one deep pass in the southwest and great fishing. Since pearl prices began to plummet around 2000, approximately 50 farms have gone out of business, but there’s still a smattering of pearl farms dotted around the lagoon. The atoll is 28km long and 8km wide.
Aratika & Kauehi
Few visitors have heard about the atolls of Aratika and Kauehi, which lie northeast of Fakarava. With only two pensions and limited infrastructure, these two morsels of paradise are a dream come true for those looking to come down a few gears. Both are served once or twice weekly from Pape'ete by Air Tahiti.