The largest atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Rangiroa is home to a 42-mile long by 16-mile wide turquoise lagoon From the air, the atoll – the second largest in the world – seems to be a giant pearl necklace laid upon the water. Here is a world where 240 tiny islets, or motu, each no more than three feet in elevation, lay upon the ocean for more than 110 miles completely encircling an infinitely deep lagoon. Only an hour’s flight from Tahiti, Rangiroa offers sunshine, white coral beaches and an immense playground for water sports and activities. Surrounded by two legendary bodies of water, Moana-tea and Moana-uri (Oceans), the main villages of Avatoru and Tiputa offer the visitor with a unique look at the South Pacific. Along the few roads, coral churches, craft centers, local restaurants, and tiny shops provide enjoyable land-based experiences to complement the many activities in the lagoon.
There are only two “large” hotels, the luxurious Kia Ora and the confortable Novotel. Besides those hotels, there are several smaller family-run pensions, for instance Les Relais de Josephine.
Kia Ora, A very luxurious but old establishment, with a few overwater bungalows. The annex Kia Ora Sauvage is located on a remote motu, perfect for a complete castaway from civilization. The hotel will undergo renovation during 2009. The hotel is located near a very narrow stretch of sand which could be described as a beach. There is good snorkeling once you get off shore a bit. We saw many fish and rays. The hotel restaurant is good and the seafood buffet is a nice touch. They also have staff (Willie) who speaks excellent english and makes communicating much easier. The infinity pool is a great place to relax during the day.
Novotel Lagoon Resort, less plushy than the Kia Ora, but still high-range. Located close to the airport, but due to the very low number of (propeller only)flights this is really not a problem. Note that the hotel is right on the lagoon, with wonderful snorkelling but that there is no sand beach.
One of the cheapest family-run pensions would be Pension Loyna .Loyna is very friendly and helpful, provides free bicycle rental, knows everyone else in the island, and cooks delicious meals!
Like many of the islands of French Polynesia, Rangiroa offers access to fantastic water sports. Rangiroa offers some of the best dives in the world in and around the Tiputa Pass. Sedentary common bottlenose dolphins regularly play group in the Pass. They can be viewed from the mainland but it is also one of the few places where they can be approached in scuba diving. Because of its large size and the existence of only two passes, each high tide creates a strong incoming current while each low tide creates a strong outgoing current in those two passes. When the current is flowing inward through Tiputa Pass, about 200 shark specimens gather at the entrance to the Tiputa Pass, at fifty meters deep. Led by the strong current, sharks can remain motionless and allow divers to observe them without any difficulty. Largemanta rays, green sea turtles, and humphead wrasses can also be seen. Occasionally, tiger sharks and hammerhead sharks can also be spotted.
Finally, for the curious and wine lovers, it is possible to discover a unique world vineyard located in the middle of a coconut plantation, on the lagoon side, and then of course taste its production.
Photos taken by: IDEE_PER_VIAGGIARE