- Low-lying coral atolls
- Beach chilling, scuba thrilling
Discover dreamy white-sand islands and world-beating diving in the Tuamotus, a chilled-out archipelago north-east of Tahiti which stars startling coral atolls encircling turquoise lagoons.
A jaw-dropping contrast to the peak-toting, high islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, these low-slung necklaces of coral are dotted with palm-peppered motus (mini islets), the former barrier reefs of extinct, sunken volcanos. Passes cutting through to the deep-blue ocean create teeming bottlenecks of sea life moving in and out of the lagoon, and ideal spots for snorkelling, diving or fishing. Don't miss the dazzling current-drift dives at main island Rangiroa's Tiputa and Avatoru passes, famous for shark and dolphin sightings. Laid-back Tikehau boasts the only pink-sand beaches in French Polynesia and twitcher-pleasing birdlife. Mellow Manihi is a must for pearl-farm visits (black pearls are a hot buy throughout the Tuamotus). Dining is a gem here, too, with super-fresh fish and seafood, flavoured with coconut and washed down with unique, atoll-grown wine. Populated by the hardy Paumotu people, these wilder, deserted shores will feel like a real Polynesian adventure, so be sure to add a Tuomotu to your holiday plans.
- Do go/don't go
- You'll usually get the best weather in the dry, cooler winter period from May to October. Summer (November to April) sees hotter temperatures, rising humidity, cloudier skies and heavier rains, although storms are usually brief. Peak season falls in line with the northern school holidays, especially July and August, and Christmas; the islands also book up for the July Heiva festival, so get in early or look for off-season bargains. Surfing and diving are good year-round.