Haaien voeren op de Tuamotu eilanden in Frans Polynesie
The coral atolls of Tuamotu in French Polynesia are pure nature. Tourism is still in its infancy here and the islands of Rangiroa, Manihi, Fakarava and Tikehau are sparsely populated and fairly remote. The coral on the Tuamotu Islands is arguably the most authentic and unspoilt in the world, which is mainly due to the fact that large-scale fishing does not take place here. And where else would you still find so many different sorts of fish in the wild?
Many undiscovered motus with pink beaches and coconut trees await you on Fakarava - one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites. It's almost as though you've walked onto the set of a Bounty commercial. This is also home to the second largest lagoon in the Tuamotus. Nature enthusiasts will be able to spot rare birds, plants and crustaceans and along the coast you will discover quaint settlements, churches made from coral and warm-hearted people. In the northern Garuae Pass (the largest pass in French Polynesia) you will find many different types of coral in many different colours that will not fail to surprise even the most experienced divers. Stingrays and dolphins emerge from the depths of the sea to visit different types of fish in shallower waters and pearl fishers bring up sea cucumber, which is smoked on the island and transformed into an unprecedented delicacy.
Rangiroa, which is Paumotan for ‘long air', is the kind of place that you would expect only dreams to be made of. From the air, it looks like one island, but in reality it is a total of 240 small islands, with a circumference of more than 160 kilometres around the largest lagoon in the Tuamotus. Here the sun plays on the water and produces an endlessly surprising range of colours and light effects. It's not without reason that Rangiroa is one of the best diving locations in the world. The Avatora Pass is famed for the many Manta rays that inhabit the waters and Tiputa has been nicknamed ‘the pass of a hundred sharks'. The fish that swim around this area are so amazing that you'll start to think you're dreaming with your eyes open. The most important villages of Avatoru and Tiputa will give you a good idea about the life of the island people.
You can follow in Robinson Crusoe's footsteps on Manihi and visit one of the many small islands, with their white sandy beaches and coconut tress. Yet Manihi has more to offer than dazzling natural beauty and fantastic diving opportunities. After tourism, pearl fishing is Manihi's most important source of income. The black pearl was first cultivated on Manihi and - as the heart of the pearl industry - the atoll has a reputation to keep up. You can watch how the pearls are plucked from the oysters and prepared for sale, at very reasonable prices.
Tikehau means ‘peaceful landing' and here, along the long pink and white sandy beaches, you really will find peace. A stroll along the shores makes you feel as though you've been whisked away into a beautiful postcard, yet the delicious aromas that fill the air and invitations from the friendly island folk will soon bring you back to reality. Researchers working for Jacques Cousteau concluded that there are more fish swimming in the lagoon than in any other atoll in the Tuamotus, which makes a boat trip a breathtaking experience. In the Tuheiava Pass you will see the Manta rays swimming amongst the schools of tuna and barracuda; however, if you fancy staying ashore one day you could always rent a bike and visit the village of Tunerahera.