Tikehau, its vacation scent, its ribbons of pink and white sand stretching as far as the eye can see, bordered by crystalline waters and overlooked by an outrageous sun…
Often prized for its annual rate of sunshine, the Tuamotu archipelago is composed of 76 atolls including Fakarava, Mataiva, Rangiroa, Hao, Anaa, Ahe, Manihi or Makemo.
The island of Tikehau:
Wild, authentic, preserved, the island is a real lost paradise. Located in the western part of the Tuamotu, 340km north of Tahiti and accessible in 15min from Rangiroa, the island surrounds a lagoon of 26km in diameter. The atoll we know today is actually only the tip of the iceberg because it is the coral outgrowth of the summit of a submarine volcanic mountain formed 65 million years ago.
Calm, quiet and peaceful, the island is aptly named. According to the legend, a man, Tii, was in love with a woman, Hau, who lived on the island of Tahiti; he kidnapped her and brought her back to his atoll and from this union was born a child, Tiehau, who later became Tikehau: the “peaceful landing”.
Unlike the islands of other archipelagos, here you will not find a real store. People live from fishing and harvest. The main economic activities are copra, fishing and, of course, tourism. If you want to plan your stay on the Tuamotu, follow the guide!
The Tuheiava pass:
The Tuheiava pass is the only one in the lagoon and is a must-see in Tikehau. Well known by the local diving centers, the pass is home to dozens of species such as tuna, grey or black tip sharks, barracudas, manta rays and even some dolphins. In addition, the pass is also a surf spot reserved to experienced surfers.
The birds Island:
Amateur ornithologist? The motu Puarua offers some nice surprises. Red-footed boobies, blue or brown noddis, Ariel frigates and crested terns have taken up residence there.
The island of Eden:
Based on an old pearl farm, the site is somewhat unusual. It shelters a religious community which lives almost in total autarky, recluse, far from civilization. Thanks to the use of organic materials, they have managed the risky gamble of planting a vegetable garden in the middle of a coral island with very little soil fertility. Cherries, limes, papayas, vanilla, cabbage, aromatic herbs grow in abundance, aided by natural compost and a little rainwater. The inhabitants also make their own salt, have a pigsty, a chicken coop and even some hives. A rewarding visit awaits you if you have a green thumb!
The main village of the island, Tuherahera, is located near the airport and gathers almost all of the 560 inhabitants of the island. You will find there colorful houses, the school, the infirmary, the post office, the town hall or even a small police station. Moreover, even if the village has only one grocery store and some foodtrucks, think about taking some cash! Here you will not find a bank or ATM … It is a charming little village with gardens of sand. Tuherahera is dotted with flowers, it is a pleasure to walk around there.
The Hina bell:
Located on the main motu (islet), the bell of Hina is essentially made up of feo, the fossilized coral that overhangs a pool of clear water. A nice frame for your photo shoots…
What activities to practice?
The first thing you need to know is that here we live to the rhythm of the island. We get up at 6am at sunrise to explore and then we return to rest around 5pm, besides, the nap is mandatory.
Like other Tuamotu atolls, it has an impressive marine biodiversity. While traveling in Polynesia, Commander Cousteau himself said that Tikehau had the world’s most fish-rich lagoon, enough to attract diving enthusiasts from all over the world… You can see some endemic species, trevallies, tunas, barracudas, fluorescent clams and at last but not least, splendid manta rays.
A lagoon tour:
The beauty of the island is mainly based on its lagoon and its diversity of species. It would be a shame not to approach a little closer… Put on flippers, mask and snorkel! Go on a motu and enjoy a delicious local meal (fish-based as you can imagine…).
Do you feel like a freshwater sailor? Grab your fishing rod and hang on to a coral head, it’s time to show what you are capable of! The lagoon is full of fishes of all kinds, you just have to catch them. There will always be someone to help you hollowing and chipping in the evening…
Visit a fish park:
You didn’t catch any fish? You can always get a little closer and see the beautiful colors of the lagoon fishes. The big blue scares you and you are not the type to go down in apnea? Put on a mask and snorkel for a swim with the black tip sharks!
Enough with bike traffic? Embark on an epic kayak trip and visit one of the motu that surrounds Tikehau…
Taie Fa’ahe’e? You want to surf the foam? It will be necessary to pass your turn… The pass of Tuheiava is reserved for the initiates, it has a famous break point.
Take a sunbath on a hoa:
Do you want to tan without anyone around? Why not go on a hoa, an arm of the sea connecting two islets. Otherwise, you can bask on the famous pink sand beaches.
Where to stay?
The island has only one luxury hotel, set on a motu. Most travelers choose a guesthouse to get closer to the population, enjoy homemade meals and learn more about the Paumotu way of life.
Tama’a ! It’s time to eat:
Two options are available to you: either you are an excellent fisherman and you just have to prepare your catch of the day, or you have to rely on your host to prepare good meals. The opening hours of snacks are random, it is better to book a day trip including lunch if you have not chosen a full board stay.
By foot! Most of the houses are grouped together in several small villages, so it’s nice to walk around the two main streets of the atoll. If you want to go a little further, you can still borrow a bike in your guesthouse, maybe you’ll meet a car or two on your way…
How to get there?
In the first place, you will have to go to the island of Tahiti. Then, simply book a Tahiti – Tikehau flight via the local airline Air Tahiti. One hour of flight, just the time you need to recover a little before going on your next adventure.
The weather point:
The Tuamotu Archipelago, the Tuam’s as we like to call them here, enjoy almost perpetual sunshine. This is the special characteristic of the atoll. Its surface being flat, clouds have no mountainous terrain to cling to. Therefore, although rainfalls are higher during the rainy season (November to April), they are much less numerous than in other archipelagos. If you want to visit the atoll in optimal conditions, prefer to leave during the austral winter, between May and October: the temperatures are slightly lower (between 23 and 30 degrees) and you will enjoy a sunny weather.
Our little extra:
Otto von Kotzebue, a Russian navigator, discovered the island in 1816.
Previously, the island was named “Oropa”.
Did you practice Tahitian during your stay? Too bad, here we speak Paumotu!
The pearl farms on the island have all closed due to a lack of yield, as conditions are not gathered to support the oyster growth.