Rangiroa is a typical atoll of the Tuamotu Archipelago. Composed, quite classically, of a barrier reef surrounding a central depression, filled with saltwater forming the lagoon, and surrounded by several islets, called motu in Polynesia, but it is striking for the sheer size of its lagoon, making it the second largest atoll in the world. This exceptional environment has given rise to an impressive submarine fauna, giving the atoll its international reputation.
Sharks, dolphins, open ocean and lagoon fish, and even whales, during the season, abound and are easily observed, especially in the Tiputa and Avatoru passes.
Tikehau is a beautiful oval-shaped atoll, with a maximum length of 27 km by 19 km in width and 20 km² of land above water land, consisting of delicate motu (islets) bordered by beaches of fine white or pink sand. Lying 15 km from Rangiroa and 340 km North of Tahiti, it can be reached by a 55-minute flight.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famous French oceanographer and explorer who carried out a large expedition here in 1987, considered the waters surrounding the atoll to be the “most fish-filled in the world”.
Tikehau has also carved itself a reputa`tion with surfers worldwide, thanks to the perfect break, in the Tuhieva pass, the atoll’s only pass.
Among the largest islands in French Polynesia, Raiatea is a little over 200km from Tahiti. The small town of Uturoa, capital of the Leeward Society Islands, has a harbor that can receive large cruise ships.
The island is also the site of one of the largest archaeological sites in French Polynesia, today on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites, the marae Taputapuatea, which is at the heart of eastern Polynesia’s ancient religion and mythology.
Taha’a, accessible by a shirt ferry ride, shares a lagoon with Raiatea, which is just four kilometers distant. Ohiri (590 m) and Puurauti (550 m), the two mountains peaks rising from the island’s center, can be visited on excursions. The deep bays dissect the coastline, and the coral barrier is scattered with numerous motu.
Taha’a is known worldwide for its vanilla (Vanilla taitensis) production, which earned it the nickname “Vanilla Island”. It is also well known for its many archaeological sites, hidden under dense tropical vegetation.