Fishing at SunsetFishing at Sunset
©Fishing at Sunset|Hélène Havard

Three days in Rangiroa

The atoll of superlatives

The « endless sky » of Rangiroa, which could just as aptly be named the « endless sea » because it is the biggest atoll in Polynesia. A destination of abounding pleasures and astounding treasures both above and beneath the waves. And if you can’t fit them all in during your three-day break, then come back and see us again!

Motu in Rangiroa - Tahiti Tourisme © Bernard RubinsteinMotu in Rangiroa - Tahiti Tourisme
©Motu in Rangiroa - Tahiti Tourisme| Bernard Rubinstein

Day 1

Many people come just for that. The reputation of the island’s dive sites is well-known the world over and there are numerous diving clubs to help you get the most out of your stay. There isn’t a better place to take your very first dive and for the more experienced, Rangiroa is like a dream come true. There are all kinds of sharks to observe: tiger, gray, hammerhead, white tip…and you can swim with manta rays, even getting right up close if you’re lucky. And naturally, the lagoon abounds with dolphins, eagle rays and multitudes of brightly-colored tropical fish.

If you don’t like diving underwater, then put on a mask and tuba and glide on the incoming current in Tiputa pass – it’s like swimming in an aquarium! Or if you prefer, you can admire the beauty that lies beneath the surface of the lagoon from the dry comfort of a glass-bottom boat.

On the quayside at Ohotu, close to Tiputa pass, you can dine at the water’s edge in the shelter of the wooden pergola at the restaurant/snack Chez Lili. Renowned for her local cuisine as well as the mouthwatering dishes from her homeland in the Indian Ocean, the ever-cheerful Lili has conquered the hearts of locals and is a favorite with visitors. She also proposes a large choice of delicious vegetarian dishes. There is no better place on the island to recuperate and admire the view.

Please don’t go spear fishing after a diving session – it’s safer for you to stay on the surface. But don’t worry, the locals can take you on a fishing trip that guarantees thrills and puts food on your plate at the end of the day. Fishing is very much a part of the way of life here and some professionals offer fly-fishing or jig fishing excursions out in the ocean. If you prefer surfing, your guesthouse will be delighted to indicate the best surf spots, such as the pass at Avatoru where a surfing competition is held each year. Of course, Polynesia is where it all started!

Back on dry land at the end of the day, you can still continue to admire the richness of the Pacific Ocean. As the sun begins to set, go and sit somewhere opposite Tiputa pass and you can marvel at the dolphins leaping and diving in the waves. A truly thrilling display that warms the heart of everyone who witnesses it. A magical ballet to bring a glorious end to your day on the water.

Day 2

Today you stay on dry land and take a bike ride – an e-bike ride if you’re not feeling very energetic. Go through the village of Avatoru and carry on until you reach the ‘capital’ Tiputa. There’s not a great deal to see in the two villages, but the atmosphere is very Polynesian and very welcoming. The main attraction of the ride is the beautiful scenery of the lagoon and the ocean. Stop off for a swim in a hoa, one of the little canals of crystal clear fresh water. You can also take a look at some of the roadside stalls selling souvenirs which will remind you of all this when you’re back in the cold and rain!.

If you haven’t already done so, a visit to a pearl farm should definitely be on your list of things to do. Gauguin’s Pearl is one of the largest producers of black pearls in the Pacific. You can’t miss the farm which is right in the middle of the motu of Avatoru. You will be shown through the entire process, from the grafting to the harvesting of the pearls, and you’ll be able to make purchases directly from the farm in the climatized boutique.

Amazing as it may seem there is a vineyard in The Islands of Tahiti! The « vin de Tahiti » is actually made in Rangiroa, or ‘Rangi’ as it’s known here. The vines are cultivated on a small motu at the Avatoru pass, a truly exotic setting for a vineyard. The result of much research and experimentation, the coral soil now produces white and rosé wines of a unique character. It is possible to visit the domaine de Dominique Auroy during certain periods of the year, but the cellars at the Cave de Rangiroa are open all year round for wine tasting and direct purchases.

Day 3

Rangiroa has a grand total of 240 motu! Most of them are uninhabited, except for the odd copra producer and collector of seashells, and many of them are ideal for visiting for the day or as part of a sea excursion. You can choose between the Île aux récifs, the lagon bleu, the motu with pink sand etc. They are all different, but they are all equally superb.

We’ve chosen the l’île aux récifs. In the south of the atoll, it takes more than an hour by boat to get there. The first sign of the motu is the lunar landscape of the coral reef emerging from the water, in some places it reaches two meters in height. With adequate footwear to protect you from the sharp fossilized coral, you can walk along the reef and bathe in the natural pools. A picnic of typical Polynesian dishes will be served on the motu, to the rhythm of the ukulele played by local musicians. An unforgettable day out and the chance to explore the coral reef from another angle.

As an alternative, an excursion to the lagon bleu is both a unique and wonderful experience. Also about an hour by boat from the main village, you’ll come to a lagoon inside the lagoon. Enclosed by five motu, this small ‘inland sea’ of about 30 hectares is in the middle of the atoll’s coral reef. A unique setting, worthy of a postcard and ideal for taking photos. You can swim or go snorkeling in the company of the locals – the inner lagoon’s habitual residents which you’ll be able to see in the distance – hundreds of blacktip sharks! As with the excursion to  the île aux récifs, there are numerous choices of tours to lagon bleu motu. Your hotel or guesthouse will be able to help you with the reservation.