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Rangiroa: The largest atoll & diving mecca in Polynesia


It means vast sky in the language of the Tuamotus, which is the group of atolls in French Polynesia.

You can't really call Rangiroa for island as it is more of a ring of elliptic shape, 80 km in length and a width ranging from 5 to 32 km wide. The land is really narrow, about 500 meters but the total circumference totals up to 200 km.

Here's how it looks like in google maps, cool huh?

View Larger Map

Actually, the thing with Rangiroa, are the points where the coral is broken, so the water comes in/out of the lagoon, carrying tones of nutrients and consequently attracting small fishes, which in turn, attract huge pelagics (sharks of all kinds, grey, tiger, hammerhead, blacktip; dolphins; rays...). Tiputa Pass is the place to dive.

Only 3000 inhabitants make Rangiroa the biggest of the Tuamotus, but result on a rather tiny community, with scarce accommodation options (Kia Ora & MaiTai on the expensive side, plus a bunch of pensions on the budget side). Staying with a family is a cool way (provided they are nice, which is usually the case) to get to learn the local culture & observe them in their environment. It's pretty amazing to see the extended family (daughter, grand-son, uncle, etc) all leaving in the same (usually large) house.

This is a place for diving, for relaxing, for snorkeling, for a good tan. If you are into hiking, the Society Islands (or the Marquises) are a better choice. If you are into clubbing, stay in Papeete. There isn't a lot beyond there ;P

Our little hut.

The little pass beside our pension happened to be packed with interesting creatures...

... like myself and some sharks!

Of course, there are fancier spots, like MaiTai.

And a long road to hike, up to Tiputa Pass, where dolphins are said to cross every sunset.

We saw many waves.

And diving boats.

We saw locals fishing.

And kids playing.

But no dolphins at all :(

Some days after, we would get to know that apparently, a Tiger Shark was around the island, scarring all other sharks & dolphins away. Still, it was a nice walk.


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