LOS ANGELES -- U.S. travelers' knowledge of the islands that make
up French Polynesia always has been scant at best, so Tahiti's
tourism bureau here traditionally has marketed the region as
"Tahiti and her islands."
But recent efforts to promote the Society Islands, which include
Tahiti, Bora-Bora, Moorea and Raiatea, have been so well received
that Tahiti Tourism is taking those efforts one step further by
marketing the Tuamotu Archipelago -- a group of 77 atolls east of
the Society Islands -- as "Tahiti's Strand of Pearls."
"During the high season, Bora-Bora will sell out," said a
spokesman for Tahiti Tourism. "People will try again and again to
change their itineraries to work Bora-Bora in, but we want them to
try some of our other islands."
Specifically, the Tuamotu Islands. Four atolls in Tuamotu have
accommodations and air strips served by Air Tahiti: Rangiroa,
Fakarava, Tikehau and Manihi. A rundown on the islands follows:
• Rangiroa, meaning "huge sky," is the second-largest atoll in the
world after Kwajalein in Micronesia, according to Tahiti
"[Rangiroa] has an enormous lagoon, big enough to fit Tahiti
inside of it. Within the lagoon there are 40 different colors of
blue," according to a bureau spokesman.
One of Rangiroa's attractions is the drift dive, also called
"shooting the pass." To shoot the pass, visitors jump into the
water and ride the current on a course that brings them into
contact with turtles, dolphins and manta rays as well as a harmless
species of shark.
Above the surface of the sea, the atoll is home to a number of
bird colonies, which has earned it the name Isle of Birds.
There are two Kia Ora hotel properties on Rangiroa plus a number
of small, family-operated hotels. The Kia Ora Village has garden,
beach and overwater bungalows and a restaurant with open-air
seating and Polynesian cuisine. The Kia Ora Sauvage has five
bungalows on a small islet in a lagoon. The property has no
electricity, and meals consist of freshly caught fish.
Both Kia Ora properties can be reached by calling (011) 689-96
0222 or 689-96 0384, or by e-mailing [email protected], but the
spokesman for Tahiti Tourism recommended going through a tour
• Fakarava, the second-largest atoll in French Polynesia, is a
Unesco nature reserve. Its biggest attraction is scuba diving.
Le Maitai Dream Fakarava opened on Fakarava this summer with 30
bungalows. For more hotel information, call (011) 689-86 5146; fax
(011) 689-86 5190; or e-mail [email protected].
• Manihi is the home of black pearl farms and was the site of
the first pearl farm in the Tuamotu Islands.
The Manihi Pearl Beach Resort offers a choice of bungalows
either on a white-sand beach facing a lagoon or over water. The
property incorporates its own diving center.
For hotel information, call (011) 689-96 4273; fax (011) 689-96
4272; e-mail [email protected]; or check the Web site at www.pearlresorts.com. For reservations, call (011)
689-43 1610 or fax (011) 689-43 1786.
• Tikehau is an oval-shaped atoll known for its variety of
underwater life, which makes it especially attractive to scuba
On Tikehau is the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort, which opened in
April 2001. The resort overlooks the Tikehau lagoon and offers a
range of activities, such as snorkeling, canoeing, sunset cruises,
fishing and scuba diving.
For more information on the hotel, call (011) 689-96 2300; fax
(011) 689-96 2301; or e-mail [email protected]. The Web site can be found
For additional information on all of French Polynesia, visit
Tahiti Tourism's Web site at www.gototahiti.com.
Booking Tahiti: A list of operators
Brendan Worldwide Vacations
Phone: (800) 421-8446
Gogo Worldwide Vacations
Phone: (800) 229-4999
Phone: (800) 567-4741
Islands in the Sun
Phone: (800) 423-2880
Phone: (800) 777-7992
Phone: (800) 742-9244
Phone: (800) 200-1213