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. There are superb coral beaches, numerous snorkelling spots, two well-priced pensions, lots of fish and one of the few noteworthy archaeological sites in the Tuamotus.

The structure of the Mataiva lagoon gives it an unusual appearance: the coral heads create walls 50m to 300m wide that form about 70 basins with a maximum depth of 10m. Seen from the plane it looks like a mosaic of greens. Unforgettable.