Beautiful islands make up the country of French Polynesia, which is situated in the South Pacific. Many beautiful islands, such as Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea, which are renowned for their azure oceans, white sand beaches, and lush vegetation, are found there. Fakarava, however, is one island that is frequently overlooked by visitors. French Polynesia’s Fakarava is a hidden gem, quietly gaining popularity for its pristine beauty and diverse marine life.
The Tuamotu Archipelago, a collection of coral islands in French Polynesia, includes the atoll of Fakarava. Fakarava is one of the Tuamotus, which are among the world’s most isolated islands. The island is located roughly 450 kilometers northeast of Tahiti, and it takes about an hour and a half to travel there from the capital city of Papeete. The island has a unique geography that sets it apart from other islands in French Polynesia. With a total land area of just about 17 square kilometers, it is long and thin. An abundant and diverse ecology, including coral reefs, fish, sharks, and rays, may be found in the lagoon that surrounds the island.
More than a thousand years have passed since Fakarava’s founding. The 9th century is thought to have seen the arrival of the island’s first residents. They came by canoe from surrounding islands, and these early immigrants were Polynesians. On the island, they established a community, and through time, they created their own special culture and rituals. Up until the entrance of European explorers in the 18th century, the island remained comparatively unexplored. The island was visited by French and British explorers in the late 1700s and early 1800s, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that it started to draw significant interest.
Fakarava rose to prominence as a significant hub for pearl farming in the late 1800s. Many varieties of oysters that make fine pearls live in the lagoon on the island. Although it provided the island money and prosperity, the pearl business had a huge negative influence on the ecology. The overfishing and introduction of non-native species into the lagoon as a result of the desire for pearls damaged the environment. The island is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve as a result of a renewed emphasis on sustainability and conservation in recent years.
For those who enjoy the outdoors and seek adventure, Fakarava is a heaven. The following are some of the best activities and sights on the island:
- Snorkeling and diving: Fakarava has some of the world’s top snorkeling and diving locations. Sharks, rays, and many kinds of fish can all be found in great numbers at the island’s South Pass. The pass is reachable by boat, and the incoming tide is the ideal time to visit. Divers can also investigate the numerous shipwrecks strewn over the lagoon.
- Pink Sands Beach – The tiny pink shells that are smashed by the waves create a distinctive pink sand beach in Fakarava. The beach, which lies near the southernmost point of the island, is ideal for spending a leisurely day in the sunshine. The beach is reachable by vehicle or bicycle, and guests can take advantage of swimming in the clean seas and snorkeling while at the beach.
- Bird watching: The uncommon Tuamotu sandpiper is one of the many bird species that call Fakarava home. The island’s unspoiled nature makes it a perfect site for birding aficionados. Visitors can travel on their own or join guided excursions to learn about the island’s birdlife and search for species such the Pacific reef heron, red-footed booby, and black noddy.
- Cultural Tour: A guided cultural tour will allow you to discover the rich Polynesian culture of Fakarava. The history, culture, and traditional crafts of the island are all available for tourists to learn about. Visitors are taken on a tour of the village of Rotoava, where they may see traditional structures, go to a pearl farm, and discover the craft of weaving coconuts.
- Fakarava is merely one of the numerous islands that make up the Tuamotu Archipelago. Tourists can explore surrounding islands like Tikehau and Rangiroa, which are renowned for their stunning coral reefs and lagoons. There are island-hopping trips available, and tourists can also board ferries or flights to independently explore the neighboring islands.
- Stargazing – Fakarava is one of the top spots in the world for stargazing. The night sky on the island is exceptionally clear and dazzling because there is no light pollution. Guests can join a guided tour to discover more about the stars and early immigrants’ traditional Polynesian navigation methods.
Visitors have a choice of lodgings in Fakarava, ranging from opulent resorts to guesthouses that are affordable. Some of the best places to stay on the island are listed below:
On the southern tip of Fakarava is a boutique hotel called Havaiki Lodge. The 12 bungalows at the lodge are made to look like they belong in the island’s natural setting. The bungalows are wide and pleasant, and they offer wonderful views of the lagoon.
Pension Paparara is a guesthouse with a reasonable price tag that is situated in Rotoava. Six rooms at the guesthouse are designed in a typical Polynesian manner. The accommodations are modest yet pleasant, and they offer convenient access to the island’s beaches and attractions.
In the northern part of Fakarava, there is a family-run inn called Tumuhe Lodge. Four bungalows in a tropical garden make up the lodge. The bungalows provide simple access to the lagoon on the island and are roomy and comfortable.
On the adjoining island of Rangiroa, there is a magnificent resort called Maitai Rangiroa Resort. The resort’s 38 bungalows were created with utmost comfort and solitude in mind. A restaurant at the resort offers a variety of French and Polynesian cuisine.
Fakarava provides visitors with a variety of dining options. The village of Rotoava is home to the majority of the island’s eateries. Here are a some of the island’s best restaurants:
On the island, Snack Mahana is a well-liked location for informal dining. Together with a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and salads, the eatery also provides regional specialties like poisson cru (raw fish salad).
In the center of Rotoava, there is a French restaurant called Le Relais de la Maroto. The restaurant is well-known for its delectable seafood and provides a variety of French and Polynesian meals.
The Havaiki Lodge’s Blue Lagoon Restaurant, which boasts breathtaking views of the lagoon, is situated there. Together with a variety of international cuisines, the restaurant also provides regional specialties including grilled fish and coconut shrimp.
Getting to Fakarava
The Tuamotu Archipelago, a collection of islands in French Polynesia, is where Fakarava is situated. You can fly or sail to the island.
Via Flight – Flying is the quickest method to get to Fakarava. In addition to Fakarava, Air Tahiti also offers daily service to other surrounding islands like Rangiroa and Tikehau from Papeete. Depending on the island of origin, flight durations vary, but flights from Papeete to Fakarava typically last 1.5 hours.
Tourists may also travel to Fakarava via boat. A frequent ferry service connects Fakarava with neighboring islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago, serving the island. For those who want to visit other islands in the archipelago, taking the ferry is a terrific choice.
Tips for Visiting Fakarava
Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your vacation to Fakarava if you’re considering it:
- Schedule your vacation during the dry season – Fakarava experiences a tropical climate, with the wet season extending from November to April. The dry season, from May to October, is the greatest time to visit the island. The weather is warm and bright at this time of year, and the water is ideal for diving and snorkeling.
- Fakarava is a small island, therefore it’s vital to pack appropriately. A decent pair of water shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, and clothing appropriate for the weather should also be packed.
- Fakarava is a popular tourist location, especially during the high season, so make reservations for excursions and activities in advance. It’s a good idea to reserve excursions and activities in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Respect for local customs and traditions is expected of guests. The residents of Fakarava are proud of their Polynesian history. Be sure to dress modestly and observe local customs when visiting historical sites or attending cultural activities.
- Embrace ecotourism: Because Fakarava is home to a delicate ecosystem, tourists should take precautions to reduce their environmental impact. When diving or snorkeling, be cautious to respect local guidelines and avoid harming or disturbing the marine creatures.
Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty and rich culture of French Polynesia in the stunning and distinctive destination of Fakarava. Whether you’re wanting to relax on the beach, explore the island’s lagoon, or immerse yourself in the local culture, Fakarava has something for everyone. Anybody visiting French Polynesia should make a point of visiting Fakarava because of the variety of lodging, dining, and entertainment options available there.
Our Top FAQ's
Some popular activities to do in Fakarava include snorkeling, scuba diving, and exploring the island’s lagoon. Visitors can also take part in cultural activities like traditional dance performances and local handicraft workshops.
The best time to visit Fakarava is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, and the water is crystal clear for diving and snorkeling.
Visitors can get to Fakarava by air or sea. The island has an airport that is serviced by domestic airlines, and visitors can also reach Fakarava by ferry from other islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago.
Visitors should be aware of local customs and traditions when visiting Fakarava. The people of Fakarava are proud of their Polynesian heritage, and visitors should be respectful of local protocols when attending cultural events or visiting traditional sites. Visitors should also practice eco-tourism to minimize their impact on the island’s delicate ecosystem.