Fakarava South Pass

Fakarava is a stunning atoll in French Polynesia’s Tuamotu Archipelago. One of the biggest atolls on the planet, it supports a wide variety of marine species. The South Pass, a small passageway that links the lagoon with the open ocean, is the reason Fakarava is so well known. A must-visit location for any diver, The South Pass is regarded as one of the top dive sites in the world. This article will examine five subtopics associated with the Fakarava South Pass and its distinctive characteristics.


Fakarava on google mapsThe Location and History of Fakarava Atoll

The Tuamotu Archipelago, which is a part of French Polynesia, is home to Fakarava Atoll. It’s located about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Tahiti, the nation’s capital. The oval-shaped atoll has a length and breadth of roughly 60 km (37 mi) and 25 km (16 mi), respectively. Many rare and endangered species can be found on one of the biggest atolls in the world.

There are more than 70 atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago, including Fakarava. During the course of millions of years, undersea volcanoes erupted, creating the archipelago. The coral reefs that the erupting volcanoes produced eventually developed into the atolls. The Tuamotu Archipelago is currently a well-liked vacation spot, renowned for its stunning beaches, pristine waters, and a variety of marine life.

Fakarava Atoll has a lengthy past that dates to the 18th century. Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French explorer, made the initial discovery of the atoll in 1768. He gave it the name “Fakarava,” which is Tahitian for “beautiful reef”. Fakarava developed into a significant pearl-farming region in the 19th century. The warm, shallow waters of the atoll were perfect for raising black pearls, which came to be highly valued by jewelers all over the world.

Fakarava’s primary industry today is tourism, and divers from all over the world travel to the South Pass frequently. Any traveler will find the atoll fascinating and unforgettable due to its stunning natural surroundings, extensive history, and distinctive ecosystem.

The South Pass: A Diver’s Paradise

The lagoon is joined to the open ocean by the South Pass, a small canal. It measures around 5 kilometers (3 miles) in length and 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) in width. Strong currents at the South Pass are well renowned for providing ideal diving conditions. A wide variety of marine species is drawn to the nutrient-rich water that the currents carry from the open ocean.

More than 700 different fish species as well as a number of shark species, such as the grey reef shark, blacktip shark, and whitetip shark, can be found in the South Pass. Dolphins, turtles, and rays of different sorts can all be found in the channel. Divers frequently travel to the South Pass due to its crystal-clear waters and plethora of marine life.

The chance to witness big schools of fish is one of the special aspects of diving in the South Pass. Fish can gather in vast numbers in the ideal environment that the powerful currents produce. Divers can anticipate seeing schools of fish including surgeonfish, trevally, and barracuda.

The opportunity to go near sharks is another distinctive aspect of diving in the South Pass. Sharks enter the waterway as a result of the high currents, giving divers an exciting experience. Divers can anticipate seeing a variety of shark species, including whitetip, blacktip, and grey reef sharks.

Due to the potential for strong and unexpected currents, diving in the South Pass requires some training and expertise. Nonetheless, there are a number of diving schools in Fakarava that provide instruction and direction for novice divers. Divers have a variety of dive options to choose from, such as drift dives, night dives, and shark dives.

The Fakarava Biosphere Reserve

In 2006, Fakarava Atoll received the designation of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The reserve encompasses the entire atoll, including the lagoon and nearby oceans, and has a surface area of over 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres).

A number of rare and endangered species can be found at the Fakarava Biosphere Reserve. The Tuamotu Sandpiper, which is unique to the Tuamotu Archipelago, is one of the most notable. A little bird known as the sandpiper is classified as severely endangered due to habitat loss and imported species’ predation.

The grey reef shark, blacktip shark, and whitetip shark are just a few of the shark species that may be found in the reserve. These species are crucial to the atoll’s ecosystem and support the stability of the marine ecosystem.

The biosphere reserve wants to encourage eco-friendly travel in Fakarava. As a result, tourism operations must be conducted with a minimum amount of harm to the environment and the neighborhood. Visitors are encouraged to engage in responsible tourism by following the reserve’s rules, which include avoiding harming marine life or littering.

An excellent example of how tourism and conservation may coexist is the Fakarava Biosphere Reserve. The reserve helps to safeguard the special ecosystem of Fakarava by encouraging eco-friendly tourism methods while also giving tourists a chance to take in its breathtaking natural beauty.

Pearl from oysterThe Culture of Fakarava

Fakarava Atoll has a thriving cultural history that is influenced by Tuamotu customs. Polynesian-speaking Tuamotu people have been residing in the Tuamotu Archipelago for countless years.

The art of pearl cultivation is one of Fakarava’s most prominent cultural traditions. For more than a century, pearl farming has played a significant role in Fakarava’s culture and economics. Black pearls, which are highly coveted by jewelers worldwide, thrive in the warm, shallow waters of the atoll.

The dancing and musical traditions of the Tuamotu people are extremely rich. The hivinau is a quick-paced, rhythmic dance performed by the Tuamotu people that incorporates complex hand and foot moves. Drums, ukuleles, and guitars are frequently used in Tuamotu people’s music.

Making tapa cloth is another significant Fakarava cultural tradition. Tapa cloth, which is manufactured from mulberry tree bark, is used for ceremonial purposes as well as for clothing and bedding. The bark is beaten into a soft, malleable state before being dyed with natural dyes to create tapa cloth.

With traditional dance performances, tours of pearl farms, trips to neighborhood markets, and shopping at artisan stores, visitors to Fakarava may get a sense of the culture of the Tuamotu people.

Getting to Fakarava

The only ways to get to the far-off Fakarava Atoll are via boat or airplane. The closest airport is at Fakarava itself, and Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport frequently operates flights there. The flight, which lasts about an hour, offers breathtaking aerial views of the atoll.

Also, a number of cruise lines include a stop in Fakarava in their itineraries. These voyages normally leave from French Polynesia’s main city of Papeete and stop at a number of other islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago before sailing on to Fakarava.

Visitors have a variety of lodging choices in Fakarava, including resorts, bungalows, and guesthouses. Also, there are numerous dive shops and tour companies that provide a variety of activities, such as diving, snorkeling, and cultural excursions.


Any traveler will find Fakarava Atoll and the South Pass to be a singular and fascinating place. For everyone interested in experiencing the Pacific, the atoll is a must-visit location because of its natural beauty, rich history, and cultural legacy. Everyone will find something to enjoy in Fakarava, from the breathtaking coral reefs to the Tuamotu people’s traditional dance and music.

The South Pass is Fakarava’s crowning achievement, offering guests an absolutely stunning underwater adventure. The South Pass is an excursion not to be missed, regardless of whether you are a seasoned diver or a novice snorkeler.

Another crucial illustration of how sustainable tourism and conservation may coexist is the Fakarava Biosphere Reserve. The reserve aids in preserving Fakarava’s distinctive environment so that future generations can continue to enjoy this wonderful location.

Fakarava may be reached with some effort, but the trip is well worth it. This stunning atoll’s secluded position only adds to its allure by giving tourists a true off-the-beaten-path experience.

In conclusion, Fakarava Atoll and the South Pass are undiscovered treasures in the Pacific, providing travelers with a chance to discover a distinctive ecology and take in a rich cultural history. Whether you enjoy the outdoors, are interested in culture, or are just searching for a new adventure, Fakarava is guaranteed to make an impression.

Our Top FAQ's

The Fakarava Biosphere Reserve is a protected area in French Polynesia that is home to a diverse array of marine life and endemic species, including the critically endangered Tuamotu sandpiper. The reserve helps to promote sustainable tourism and conservation in the area, ensuring that the unique ecosystem of Fakarava remains intact for future generations.

The South Pass is a channel in Fakarava that is known for its stunning coral reefs and diverse marine life, including schools of sharks and colorful fish. The strong current in the pass creates an ideal environment for diving, attracting experienced divers from around the world.

The traditional dance of the Tuamotu people is called the hivinau and is characterized by fast-paced rhythms and intricate footwork. Visitors to Fakarava can experience the hivinau through traditional dance performances and cultural tours.

Fakarava is a remote destination that is accessible by plane or boat. Visitors can fly to Fakarava from Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport or visit as part of a cruise itinerary.

Book your dream vacation here