Tuamotu Archipelago, French Îles Tuamotu, also called Paumotu, is a group of islands in French Polynesia, central South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago comprises 75 atolls, one raised coral atoll (Makatea), and innumerable coral reefs, roughly dispersed northwest-southeast as a double chain for more than 900 miles (1,450 km). It is the largest group of coral atolls in the world.
Featuring amazing pink sand beaches lined with swaying coconut palms, a crystal clear ocean that’s warm to the touch, this is the land where the story of Robinson Crusoe could have actually taken place.
Far from the glitz and glam of iconic Bora Bora, the Tuamotu archipelago feels distinct from the rest of French Polynesia.
Here are five authentic lost paradise islands:
Stunningly beautiful and refreshingly laidback, Ahe is one of the lesser known atolls in the Tuamotu that is a favorite vacation spot for native Tahitians. This charming atoll enchants travelers with unspoilt nature, crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and amazing underwater scenery.
Arguably the main draw of this small atoll is its beautiful interior lagoon. Visitors will be mesmerized by the beauty and the vivid colors as they fly over the atoll on their arrival flight. The lagoon is sprinkled with shallow sandbanks that lie just underwater, creating idyllic picnic spots in this pristine tropical swimming pool that is filled to the brim with abundant marine life and vibrant coral gardens.
In addition to spectacular marine life, the lagoon also provides ideal conditions for black pearl cultivation and houses over a hundred overwater shops that have become renowned as leaders in the pearl farming industry with pearls of exceptional colours and reflections.
Located southeast of Rangiroa, Fakarava is home to the second largest lagoon in the Tuamotu Atolls. This rectangular reef encloses such a rich ecosystem that it has been designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. The area both inside and around Fakarava is known to safeguard a variety of endemic wildlife. In fact, out of the entire commune including small atolls such as Niau, Raraka, Taiaro and Toau, some are completely closed to the ocean, creating a nursery for precious underwater flora and fauna.
Peaceful and serene, Manihi appears to have invented the simple life. Being the least developed of the primary Tuamotu Atolls, this secluded locale is covered in white sand beaches and swaying coconut palms—and not much else. Travelers come here mainly to snorkel by day and stargaze at night.
Manihi is the farthest north of the Tuamotu Archipelago. Life here moves at a much slower pace. This small coral atoll is home to less than 1,000 inhabitants. Primarily pearl or copra (coconut) farmers and fisherman, these locals rely on the surrounding natural environment to sustain their livelihood.
Aptly named the Island of Pearls, Manihi’s inner lagoon is the ideal environment for the cultivation of the highly prized Tahitian black pearl. Blessed with all the right attributes including temperature, light, density and salinity, coupled with the abundant population of the Pinctada margaritifera—the only oyster in the world capable of creating the rich hues characteristic of the black pearl—the lagoon in Manihi is a natural jewelry box for these precious gems.
Rangiroa is quite possibly the world’s most immense natural aquarium. Blessed with an accessible yet secluded appeal and a large abundant lagoon, this renowned destination should be at the top of every eager diver’s list.
Rangiroa is the largest of the Tuamotu Atolls and the second largest in the world. Made of mostly water, the lagoon in Rangiroa is so substantial that the entire island of Tahiti could fit inside. This size, coupled with the lagoon’s sheer abundance of marine life, has earned Rangiroa her reputation as a superb diving locale.
Here on this secluded coral atoll, there are no soaring mountain peaks or sweeping fragrant valleys characteristic of the other Tahitian islands. Instead, flattened islets and skinny sandbars encircle the perimeter of Rangiroa’s vast blue lagoon. This atoll formation allows you the unique opportunity to enjoy endless horizons on either side. Fittingly, Rangiroa actually means “immense sky” in the local language.
Tikehau is a small, circular atoll neighboring Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago. The lagoon, formed by an almost unbroken ring of continuous coral, resembles an immense natural swimming pool. According to the legendary marine researcher Jacques Cousteau, it has a higher concentration of fish than any other lagoon in French Polynesia.
Tikehau encapsulates the meaning of going off the grid. This small, cherished atoll consists of countless tiny white and pink sand islets engulfed in coconut groves and hidden alcoves. In Tikehau, which actually means “peaceful landing,” you will find nothing but absolute serenity on her calm and graceful shores.
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