|Oceania Marina docked offshore at Fakarava in the|
Tuomotu Archipelago of French Polynesia
When people think of taking a cruise to South Pacific islands, the first one that comes to mind is Tahiti, with Bora Bora a distant second. These are gorgeous islands with sandy beaches, soaring mountains, and lush vegetation that recall photos you’ve seen from the French Polynesian islands.But there’s more to explore in the South Pacific, especially if you like to snorkel or scuba dive. Although many of the 78 atolls (narrow strips of land surrounded by reefs) scattered throughout the Tuamotu Archipelago are still difficult to visit, some cruises include stops at atolls like Fakarava and Rangiroa. Air Tahiti also flies from Papeete to Rangiroa, if you’re traveling on your own.
|It's easy to see the lagoon on one side of the atoll and the|
Pacific Ocean on the other side of this narrow strip of land.
Tuamoto Archipelago is the world’s largest group of coral atolls, but only 31 have passes (breaks in the reef) through which ships may enter, which means the Tuamotus are quite isolated. But it also means snorkeling is excellent at islands like Fakarava and Rangiroa. Luminous turquoise water teems with plentiful marine life including many fish varieties and various rays and sharks. It’s a true natural aquarium with some of the best swimming, snorkeling, and diving in the South Pacific.
|Beautiful coral formations and colorful fish can be seen |
snorkeling from the shore of Fakarava.
|Pearl farming is an important industry for both of these atolls.|
|The Marina must navigate through a narrow pass (break in the reef)|
to reach the ocean
Rangiroa is the Tuamotu’s most populous atoll and one of the world’s best dive spots. Our ship entered through the Tiputa pass on the northern side of a very visible coral ring around the atoll. Resembling a string of pearls, the coral encircles a clear turquoise lagoon. The exchange of water between open sea and lagoon creates a fertile habitat for marine life, so it provided some of our best snorkeling on the trip.
|Fish are plentiful in the clear turquoise water off Rangiroa.|
|Another look at the reef surrounding the atoll.|