Rangiroa © Olivier Bruchez
Part of the Tuamotu Archipelago, Rangiroa is one of
the world's largest atolls. It is a ring of low land encircling a
deep, crystal-clear turquoise lagoon which is so vast that the
whole island of Tahiti could fit inside.
The island, about an hour's flight from Tahiti,
offers, among other things, world-class scuba diving. The water is
so clear that visibility is estimated at least 150ft (46m), and the
temperature delightfully hovers around 80°F (27°C) all year
The stretch where the lagoon opens to the ocean,
known as Tiputa Pass, is particularly rich in marine life and is
recognised as one of the world's greatest shark dive locations.
Even snorkellers can appreciate close-up views of the various
species of sharks and schools of dolphins that gather in the
By French Polynesian standards, Rangiroa doesn't have
much in the way of beaches. But the huge lagoon is home to a
charming collection of far-flung islands (motu) which can
be reached on various boat trips and make gorgeous spots for
picnics and sun bathing.
Accommodation options on the atoll are quite limited
but include a lovely low-key resort near the main village, and an
adventurer's paradise on a remote lagoon islet, consisting of a
handful of primitive beach bungalows hidden under the palms.
Travellers are advised to book accommodation far in advance to
avoid disappointment as the island doesn't accommodate that many
travellers - but then, that is part of the appeal.