Tikehau is a small, circular atoll neighbouring Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Just a 55 minute flight from the hustle and bustle of Pape’ete lies a crown of tiny white and pink sand islets (motus) shimmering around an emerald lagoon almost too breathtaking to be true. Measuring 25 kilometres wide and no more than 30 metres deep, the lagoon resembles an underwater aquarium teeming with marine life. During one of his expeditions, Jacques Cousteau declared Tikehau the most fish-rich atoll in French Polynesia. Diving and snorkelling are the two main highlights of a visit to Tikehau.
About 500 Tahitians call this cherished atoll home. In Tikehau (meaning “peaceful landing”) you’ll find peace and calm aplenty. Its inhabitants are generations of fishermen whose lives revolve around the serenity of the sea.
For those in search of complete relaxation in The Islands of Tahiti, Tikehau – The Pink Sand Island – has some of the best beaches and secluded motus in the region. On the eastern side of the atoll, there is a long, curving beach covered in pink sand from where you can easily snorkel from one islet to the next.
Tikehau’s picture postcard perfect scenery is your personal playground to explore.
Tikehau has a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year.
Wet Season – November to April
Rainfall is generally experienced as short, sharp showers that clear up quickly, allowing the atoll to experience up to 8 hours of sunshine per day. The moisture in the air, along with the hot temperatures, contribute to higher humidity during these months. Daytime temperatures reach 30°C and can drop to 25°C overnight. Due to its location, the atoll of Tikehau is less exposed to tropical cyclones.
Dry Season – May to October
Precipitation falls off during these months and is only really prevalent in the early mornings and evenings. The sun is bright, and temperatures are warm, averaging 28°C during the day and dipping to 23°C overnight.
Tuheiava Pass is the only navigable entry into Tikehau’s brilliant lagoon. Located on the western side of the lagoon, this is where the best diving can be found. Divers are consistently enthralled by the amazing marine life where eagle rays, schools of barracudas, snapper and tuna, turtles and dolphins like to play. Sharks can also be seen in abundance including grey reef sharks, silver tips and white tips. Great hammerhead sharks, the occasional beautiful tiger shark, and graceful manta rays frequent the pass.
Another highlight of diving in Tikehau is the ballet dance of the manta rays frequently seen at the cleaning station inside the lagoon.
26-29°C – 3mm wetsuit, 3mm shortie, or rashie
Diving is conducted year-round.
The manta ballet can be seen all year, except February to March when there are less frequent sightings.
The best time of year to see hammerheads sharks and tiger sharks is January to June.
Tuheiava Pass (incoming current)
Drift dive through the pass. Around the large coral formations gravitates a multitude of fish (parrot fish, trigger fish, grouper, barracuda, big-eye jacks and lionfish). This is one of the most fish-rich passes in the world. Giant coral tables also shelter white tip reef sharks and Javanese moray eels. Look for Napoleon wrasse, eagle rays, manta rays and grey sharks. If you’re lucky you may spot a great hammerhead or tiger shark. Further south, towards the end of the dive there is an explosion of multi-coloured corals.
Teonai (outgoing current)
This ocean-side dive at the north exit of Tuheiava Pass is also extremely rich in fish life. The coral reef here is magnificent, combining large formations and overhanging corals which start on a gentle slope. Look for lion fish, large moray eels, turtles and some shoals of barracuda and tuna. At 20 metres, the sea bed is alive with paddle tail snapper, blue striped snapper, white tip sharks and many stone fish.
The Buoy (outgoing current)
Named for the only mooring point at the exit of the pass. Located on the south corner, this is a good starting point with a descent line for novice divers. The plateau which stretches out under the boat between five and six metres deep is very full of fish and gradually descends to the drop off, the top of which is at 20 metres. As you dive along the reef towards the pass, keep an eye out in the blue. You can see white tip sharks, eagle or manta rays, tuna, trevally, jacks and barracudas. As you approach the corner, life intensifies. The majority of the marine life is between 15 - 20 metres: schools of bigeye trevally, paddling poles, surgeon fish, nasons, blue triggerfish, cane beaks at their peak at the new moon, large Javanese moray eels with their cleaners and many lion fish, large wrasse and turtles make this site the dive of Tikehau.
Ramu Ramu is located 10 minutes north of the pass. A long canyon carves into the reef between 14 and 20 metres deep. The outer wall can hold some nice surprises, but the interest is in the canyon. The underwater landscape here is very jagged with crevices and overhangs that are home to many sciaphilic fish. Small critters hide amongst the beautiful corals and whip gorgonians. Under some rocks white tip sharks have taken up residence. It is also very common to see small grey sharks on this site. On the plateau above the canyon, you can see black tip sharks. A dive for all levels.
Dive in a vertical break in the reef, along an impressive fault covered with soldier fish. The drop starts at 19 metres to a depth of 50 metres where the submarine fauna abounds. A wall of grey sharks welcomes you at the beginning of the dive. Throughout the maze of holes and crevices are a carpet of red, yellow and blue lined snapper. Barracuda and dog tooth tuna often pass through the area. For the experienced diver, at about 50 metres, an arch connects the two sides of the gorge where divers can watch clownfish protectively protruding from their anemone homes. An absolutely magical dive!
The Old Pearl Farm
This is the only regular dive in the lagoon – the Tikehau manta cleaning station! Encounter manta rays putting on a parade as they come to be cleaned by cleaner wrasse. Relax and contemplate a splendid coral garden where the mantas gravitate around the coral heads. Max depth: 15m.
The Bird Island of Tikehau is a motu in the middle of the lagoon which shelters many colonies of nesting sea birds such as the red-foot Booby, the swift terns, and the blue noddy. Due to the lack of human habitation, these birds haven’t been hunted and, therefore, are unafraid. This is an exceptional experience where you can get up close with birds in their natural habitat.
Explore the main village of Tuherahera at the southern side of the atoll. There is a small dirt road that encircles the main islet around the village, perfect for a scenic bike ride. Naturally adorned with colourful flowers such as hibiscus and bougainvillea, Tuherahera is one of the most attractive villages in the Tuamotu Atolls.
Fishing is the primary source of food and income for the nearly 500 local residents in Tikehau. You can visit one of the family-owned fish farms where they trap different species of fish in a maze of underwater fencing. Much of their catch is then shipped to Papeete and sold at the local markets.
Take a tour by motorboat across the lagoon to unspoiled motus. Relax on the pink sand beaches or snorkel in the clear waters of the lagoon and marvel at the myriad of colours in this natural aquarium. A sunset cruise is a relaxing way to end your day in paradise
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