If you’ve had enough with the recent onslaught of wintertime blizzards, you’re probably ready to start your summer vacation planning. How about jetting off to a part of French Polynesia that few travelers ever visit?
Considered to offer a number of the best diving sites in the world, the Tuamotu Atolls are some of Tahiti’s lesser known islands. These remote atolls, most specifically Rangiroa and Fakarava, possess all the exotic charm of Tahiti and Bora Bora, but they have the distinction of featuring a few activities the others don’t. Since summertime in the northern hemisphere is the dry season in French Polynesia, June through August is the perfect time to plan your visit.
If you aren’t enticed just yet, then consider these five reasons to visit the Tuamotus when finalizing your summer vacation plans this year.
Visit a Winery
How about sipping wine from a winery located in the midst of a coconut grove, flanked on one side by turquoise lagoons and the deep blue ocean on the other? Rangiroa is home to Vin de Tahiti, one of the world’s most scenic wineries. While these wines may not be on par with your favorite Chateau in Bordeaux just yet, they are well-crafted and the views are unsurpassed.
Try a Drift Dive (or Snorkel)
It may surprise you to learn French Polynesia’s seemingly tranquil waters can also pull some hefty currents. Just outside the reefs await extraordinary underwater adventures. Jump in and let the currents take you on a magical journey immersed with vibrant colored corals, thousands of schooling fish, and if you’re lucky, perhaps even a hammerhead shark. And don’t worry, the boat is right there to pick you up once your adventure ends.
Learn about Tahitian Pearls
Interested in Tahitian Pearls? Take a tour of one of French Polynesia’s best known Pearl farms — Gauguin’s Pearl. After the tour, visit the store to purchase loose or set pearls to take home with you.
Rest assured, this is not your typical tourist trap — there’s no obligation to even set foot in the store. However, if you’re interested, they have competitive prices, and most importantly, the pearls come certified. Don’t fall for the scam of buying uncertified loose pearls — they will be confiscated if you try to leave French Polynesia with them.
Visit a Coral Church
Fakarava is home to the first island church built entirely out of coral back in 1862. Today, the outer structure still remains and is quite a sight to behold.
If drift diving didn’t satiate your craving for adventure, the Tuamotus also offer world-class fishing. While you cannot fish within Fakarava’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the surrounding waters are rich with options — try deep sea or spear fishing, jigging, and more.
Rangiroa and Fakarava are both easily reached from Papeete, Tahiti, by either a one hour flight or as part of a cruise itinerary. Check Air Tahiti Nui for airfare specials from Los Angeles (main US airport servicing Tahiti) or visit Paul Gauguin Cruises for upcoming summer discounts.