Diving & Snorkelling
The number-one activity on Rangiroa is diving, and it’s no wonder. The Tiputa Pass has achieved cult status in the diving community and offers some of the best drift dives in the world. Sharks, manta rays, eagle rays and dolphins are the big attractions, but you’ll also encounter countless reef species as well as shoals of barracuda and trevallies.
Most dives are suitable for both experienced and novice divers, but novices would be advised to start with easier sites, such as Motu Nuhi Nuhi – The Aquarium or L'Éolienne, before tackling more intimidating drift dives.
Snorkelling is another great way to visit the lagoon. You can just grab a snorkel and splash around near your hotel or guesthouse, but to really experience life under the sea it’s necessary to sign up with a dive centre or a boat-tour operator and go out to further marine wonderlands.
Organised tours are really the only way of exploring the most scenic spots on the lagoon and, if you happen upon a nice group, make for a wonderful day. The most popular excursions – the Lagon Bleu and Île aux Récifs – are to the opposite side of the lagoon from Avatoru, which takes at least an hour to cross and can be uncomfortable if the sea is rough. Usually a minimum of four to six people is required.
Snorkelling gear is provided, although it's not a bad idea to bring your own equipment as not all sizes are available. When the weather’s bad or the winds are too high, excursions are cancelled.
All bookings can be made through your hotel or pension, but you can also make direct arrangements with the boat-tour companies. Transfers are provided.
Most places to stay and eat are dotted along the string of islets east of Avatoru village.
Most visitors opt for half-board at their hotel or pension, but there are also a few good independent eating options. Be sure to notify your pension that morning if you plan to eat elsewhere for dinner. Avatoru has also a few supermarkets.
Drinking & Nightlife
All hotels have bars that are open to nonguests.
A vineyard? On an atoll? Surreal but true. Vin de Tahiti has a 6-hectare vineyard planted on a palm-fringed motu about 10 minutes by boat from Avatoru village. This is the only atoll vineyard in the world, making the only wines produced from coral soil. It produces coral white wine, dry white, sweet white and rosé. Since October 2010 the wine has been made using the principles of biodynamic agriculture. Wanna sample a glass (or two)? Most restaurants on the atoll have it, and it’s also on sale at the supermarkets.
For more on Vin de Tahiti’s history, go to www.vindetahiti.com.