Maeva e manava i Fakarava! (Welcome to Fakarava!)
Fakarava Atoll is part of the Tuamotu Archipelago and is located 440 km northeast of Tahiti in French Polynesia. From its old name "Havaiki-te-araro", the rectangular island has an area of 1625 km2, making it the second largest atoll after Rangiroa. Its lagoon is open to the ocean by two passes: the Tumakahua pass to the south and the Garuae pass to the north, known as the largest pass in French Polynesia. Fakarava has been protected since 2016 as it is part of the UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve, alongside six other atolls. This reserve bears witness to the richness of the ecosystems: particularly rare fauna and flora, including the hunter kingfisher, the Tuamotu palm, squills and slipper lobster.
The essentials of Fakarava are above all scuba diving which is the main economic vector of the island for its majestic corals, its schools of fish or its impressive sharks. You can also go around the island by renting a car. The stops to be made are at the village of Rotoava to the northeast and then at Tetamanu, which are the two main villages on the island. Tetamanu was formerly the capital of Fakarava, located on the edge of the Tumakohua pass. There is one of the first Catholic churches built in coral. The two pearl farms are also worth visiting. One is located 10 km from Rotoava, named Hinano Pearls where you can observe the extraction of the pearl, carried out without killing the oyster which will produce 2 to 3 pearls throughout its life. Pearl oysters are either raised on site or purchased from other specialized farms. The second, Pearls of Havaiki, is the oldest still in operation on the island. The visit is followed by a tasting of oysters with lemon and a lottery which allows you to leave with a pearl for the luckiest.
Just as impressive to discover, the Tainoka marae is located north of Fakarava. Filled with stories, it also bears the name of the great warrior who was the guardian of the northern pass 300 years ago: Tahiri Vai Rau. Previously, all boats wishing to enter the lagoon had to announce themselves with a warrior song. Tahiri Vai Rau knew how to distinguish the songs of enemies and allies. In the event that they were enemies, they were captured and thrown to the sharks or taken to a neighboring island to be tortured and then eaten... Finally, the beaches of Fakarava are of course not to be missed. They are a real place of pure relaxation in an idyllic setting...
The legend of Fakarava
Legends have a big place in Polynesian culture. That's why through our articles, we like to share a little of this mysticism to make you travel...
Once upon a time in the sky of Fakarava, a little protective cloud filled with love named Te Ragi Mareva, which means “the passing sky”. It was a special cloud because it had a magical gift that the population of the atoll felt. As soon as we saw it appear, the sky became all gray and then gave way to rain: it was the sign that a happy event was about to happen. For example, the Te Ragi Mareva cloud could be visible before sports competitions between the Tuamotu islands, and this meant that Fakarava was going to win against the neighboring atolls. Other times, the cloud appeared to prevent the arrival of a boat or the arrival of an inhabitant of Fakarava. During major holidays, the sky appears gray and clears again at the end of the festivities. It was therefore a sign of joy for the population of the island because it meant that the cloud was happy.
We hope you enjoyed this escape to Polynesia! If you wish, you can read our other articles on the Moo ukulele (the island of Moorea) or that of Nuku Hiva.