Motu Fakarava - Tahiti Tourisme © Jim WinterMotu Fakarava - Tahiti Tourisme
©Motu Fakarava - Tahiti Tourisme|Jim Winter

Four days in Fakarava

Fakarava, a diver’s paradise

The lunar landscape of the reef’s surface hides the beauty that lies beneath the waves. Welcome to the biosphere reserve of Fakarava ! You’ll need at least four days to enjoy it to the full. Its marine ecosystem makes it a Mecca for divers and the lagoon, measuring 1 100 km2 for just 16 km2 of emerged land, is the second largest in Polynesia, after Rangiroa. No wonder it is one of the favorite destinations for divers from all over the world.

Wall of Sharks in Fakarava - Tahiti Tourisme © Grégory LecoeurWall of Sharks in Fakarava - Tahiti Tourisme
©Wall of Sharks in Fakarava - Tahiti Tourisme|Grégory Lecoeur

Day 1

Once you’ve unpacked, it’s time to take a look around and the village of Rotoava is the ideal place to begin. The heaps of buoys stacked up at the entrance to the village give you a fair idea of the way of life. This is a traditional fishing village where man and nature live together in harmony..

A small church, a bakery, a police office, a few shops and snack bars. That’s Rotoava! Peace and tranquility, and a pearl farm where the low prices will surprise you – which is no surprise because this is where they come from!

Day 2

Not one, not two, but at least three or four dives, and you’ll still want more! Of course, if you aren’t a diver you’re always welcome in Fakarava, but the true glory of the atoll lies beneath the waves. So take a deep breath, and dive in!

The pass in the south of the atoll is close to the ancient village of Tetamanu. The current isn’t as strong here as at Garuae in the north and Tumakohua pass is suitable for divers of all levels. At just 200 meters wide, it is a concentration of an exceptional variety of sea life: sharks, cornetfish, conger eels, parrotfish, surgeonfish, fusiliers, anthias, priacanthus, redsnappers… to name but a few! The gray shark population alone is estimated at 700 individuals, the densest in the world.

The dive at the southern pass takes a full day because of the distance from Ratoava, which requires a 1h30 boat trip. However, there is accommodation closer to the site if you want to save time. When the diving’s over, you’ll stop off at a motu with pink sand for a picnic, sitting with your feet in the water. A traditional poisson cru au lait de coco will refresh and revitalize you after the day’s efforts. And as you savor the other dishes that are served, you’ll be able to exchange tales of the day’s underwater adventures with your diving companions.

Back on dry land you have a choice of restaurants and snack bars by the beach, where you can drink a well-earned beer or two and enjoy your evening meal. Some of them have free internet connections, so you’ll be able to upload the day’s best photos for the undoubted pleasure of friends back home, sheltering indoors from the cold and rain!

Day 3

Garuae pass, at 1 600 mètres wide, is the widest in Polynesia. The strong current means that it’s best to drift dive to admire the coral and the abundant sea life. You can go for dives in the morning, afternoon and even at sunset. If possible, it’s advisable to book your dives before you come to Fakarava. Most of the diving centers offer packages that combine dives in both the northern and southern passes.

A perfect finish to the day is dinner at the requin dormeur snack bar at the Havaiki Lodge. As well as enjoying the magnificent setting, you’ll dine seated in the water (literally), in some very special company – the sleeper sharks which reside just next door to the tables. If their proximity makes you uneasy, you can always opt for a table on the sandy beach, close to the water’s edge. In one way or another, you’re sure to spend a memorable evening!

Day 4

Obviously, your daily schedule depends on the weather (which is usually very sunny) and the availability of excursions, so you might have to vary things a little. But if you’ve managed to keep up with the program so far, then it’s time for a bike ride. Rent a bike (or e-bike) and head for the magnificent beach at PK 9. Make sure you take a hat and a tube of eco-friendly sunscreen, and stop at a boulangerie (bakery) before you set off, so that you can buy some freshly-made sandwiches, which are a meal in themselves.

It’s true that Fakarava is a paradise for divers, but it’s also the Promised Land for kitesurfers ! The atoll’s geographical position and the vastness of its blue lagoon make it the perfect place for practitioners of the sport.

Several months of the year, Tuamotu Kite School organizes Kite Camps at the best spot, Hirifa, in the south of the island. Your reservation includes full board on a catamaran and lessons are available for the inexperienced.