Everyone knows of Bora Bora, but have you heard of Rangiroa? This bracelet of perfect atoll is 177 kms long, is the second largest atoll in the world and circles one of the most beautiful lagoons imaginable. Located in the Tuamotu Islands in French Polynesia, only two of the 240 islets are inhabited, with most of the action on Avatoru.
We head out on a snorkel tour from the resort’s jetty and see why Rangiroa is famous for its dive sites. We see an astounding array of fish and coral at a site not far from the resort, and book in for drift snorkel tour of the legendary Tiputa Pass.
We swap snorkels for a moped and explore the rest of Avatoru, loving the feeling that we have gone back in time to a simple, less complicated life. We admire the coral churches, watch surfers take on a reef break, shop for colourful hand-painted pareos at Rangiroa Art Galerie, have a fabulous lunch at Chez Lili, swim at any number of pretty beaches and do a tour of one of the largest black pearl farms in the region – Gauguin’s Pearl. To finish off our exploration we sit on the deck of the Pensione de la Josephine Relais with a cold local Hinamo beer and watch dolphins frolicking in the fast moving tide of Tiputa Pass.
Set sail for Bora Bora
We are on board a charter yacht, a 60 ft catamaran with a skipper and a hostess/chef. We are sailing from Raiatea, in the Society Islands, and we are galloping toward a lump of green on the horizon – the island of Taha’a. We drop anchor off a picture perfect motu, go for a pre-dinner snorkel then take in the sunset with fine French wine on the deck and the scent of vanilla and tiare flowers flirting on the breeze. What could be better?
We set sail for Bora Bora, her majestic Mt Otemanu and Pahia peaks unmissable signposts on our water highway. Before we head into the famous lagoon, we visit a popular snorkelling spot, dropping into the water from the yacht’s dinghy. Once the bubbles clear we find ourselves having a tête-à-tête with about 30 black tip reef sharks and I shimmy back to put a few more snorkellers between me and them.
Swimming with sting rays
After entering the lagoon, we stop off at another spot, standing in hip-deep aquamarine water on a bed of silky white sand. Soon I feel a velvety touch on my thigh and in sweeps a battalion of sting rays. They swim around us, soft wings on arms and legs. It is a magical experience and not one we will forget in a hurry.
We leave the boat to stay in a resort and explore beyond the alluring water in its myriad shades of blue. We visit Vaitape to shop at boutiques, browse for another pearl or two, and dine at the legendary Bloody Mary's. We also venture into the tangle of jungle on a tour that visits local villages, Marae temples, World War 11 bunkers and cannons and lookouts that truly showcase this incredibly beautiful place.