Sparkling atolls, low islands made of coral rings with clear water. Exceptional aquatic fauna and flora.
The Tuamotus are like sand rafts resting on the velvet of the Pacific Ocean. A diver's paradise, a sanctuary for pearl farms, the isolation of the Tuamotu is also an invitation to wake up the Robinson Crusoe sleeping in each one of us: a return to untouched nature, to meals based on the day's catch, lost in the immensity of the Pacific, on an islet suspended between the blue skies and the Trade Winds…
The TUAMOTU atolls,
- Rangiroa... along the sky
- Manihi... cradle of the black pearl
- Tikehau... and its aquarium lagoon
- Fakarava... the end of the world
- Other Tuamotu atolls... the end of the world
The GAMBIER (high islands),
- Mangareva... the floating mountain
At a glance: The Tuamotu-Gambier archipelago is the most widespread of the five archipelagos of French Polynesia with 78 islands. It covers a maritime area of over 2 millions km2, stretching from Mataiva, the most Northwest atoll to Temoe, over 2,000 km from there, in the Gambier islands at the extreme Southeast. But these islands count only 775 km2 of above sea level land, as for most of them, they are atolls, except for Makatea and four islands in the Gambier (the main one being Mangareva) which are high islands. The 16,000 inhabitants of the Tuamotu, representing only 7% of French Polynesia's population, constitute a full fledge community of all Polynesia, with deeply rooted customs and a reputation for uncommon hospitality.
The sumptuous black pearls, making today's reputation for Tahiti, come for 98% from pearl farms in the Tuamotu islands. But their first quality remains its purity, the depth and the abundance of its underwater life. These milky coral rings, emerged around magnificent turquoise lagoons,indeed represent every tourist's dream, and more specificallyany diver's dream.
Tourism acivities: Since tourism is still not very developped, the Tuamotu are one of the rare places on earth that offers to its visitors, white sand beaches that are totally free from any human presence. Only the atolls closet to Tahiti benefit today from hotel structures worthy of international tourism, although the more rustic small family guest houses do not lack a certain charm. Rangiroa, Manihi and Tikehau, and more recently Fakarava, are, in view of this the 4 most visited islands of the Tuamotu. In addition to excellent guest houses, rated hotels are also found (except in Fakarava).
Population: The root of the culture Paumotu (the islanders of the Tuamotu) are characterized by a formidable will to survive in the middle of this ocean immensity always surrounding them. This is why the Paumotu are, still today, quick minded, ingenuous and resourceful, with a strong physical constitution, a friendly and goodwilling character, whose only worry is to live in harmony with the surrounding ocean. This is why the canoe, more than the Marquesan tiki or the marae in the Society Islands, remains the emblem and rallying symbol of the Paumotu. It has always been more important for a Paumotu to own a canoe than to own a house.
There has always been many languages spoken in the Tuamotu over the centuries. Today still, several dialects remain, varying strongly from one island to the next, despite many marriages between the various clans of these islands of the Polynesian extreme.
How to get to the TUAMOTU :
By plane: a 1-hour flight from Tahiti-Faa’a with daily flights to Rangiroa, and also many direct flights to the other islands, but seldom daily. By boat: Supply boats also ensure connections with Tahiti. They load passengers for a modest price, but comfort is generally rather spartan.
(Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, Fakarava, Other-atolls, Mangareva)