Rangiroa is French Polynesia’s largest atoll. More than 400 motu (islets) enclose the lagoon, which is so wide and long that one cannot see the southern row of motu from the two main islets in the north –hence the local name Rangiroa meaning wide or long sky, sometimes taken as “immense sky”. There are several passes from the ocean into the lagoon and the two main villages of Avatoru and Tiputa are located next to the passes of the same names. View more
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Learn about the cultivation of black pearls in Rangiroa and French Polynesia on this visit to a local farm.
Board the tour vehicle for a 10-minute ride along the main road of Rangiroa and past the airport to one of the numerous black pearl farms on the island. Most pearl farms are small in size; the workers at the farm visited are representative of the farms in this area.
Your visit begins with a 20-minute introduction to pearl farming presented by the knowledgeable staff. Listen as farm representatives discuss the chronology and evolution of the industry and how oysters are selected and then grafted for production. Grafting is the key element, as it requires a skilled artisan to perform the precise opening of each oyster to introduce the mantel and the nucleus to the pocket inside. It is the mantel that coats the nucleus to form the pearl.
Following the introduction, move on to one of the work sheds where oysters are sorted and cleaned. Then, watch a grafter at work as he skilfully performs his trade. Afterwards, you have the opportunity to view a selection of unset black pearls. The guide provides explanations on how the pearls are graded for quality, shape, and lustre. There are round, baroque and semi-baroque pearls, ranging in grades from C to A.
Re-board the tour vehicle and return to the pier.
Get an up-close look at French Polynesia's tropical underwater scene from a glass bottom boat on this scenic hour-long cruise. It is an easy and relaxing way to get acquainted with the coral gardens and their colourful inhabitants without having to be in the water.
Leave the pier in a glass bottom boat and cruise slowly over the huge coral heads that cluster in shallow areas near the Tiputa channel. Through large windows you can observe an amazing variety of marine life, including parrot, butterfly, and surgeon fish. You may even encounter black-tipped sharks and the majestic Napoleon fish.
The Polynesian boat crew attract the fish right under the glass panels, allowing for perfect viewing and photography. The boat's overhead cover provides protection from the sun and eliminates glare, ensuring that you will take home great pictures.
Conclude this glass bottom boat cruise back at the pier.
Rangiroa's turquoise lagoon is more like a vast inland sea, with the dry land forming a narrow chain of sandy motus that encircle this huge waterway. The marine life in the lagoon is some of the most spectacular anywhere.
Board the local boat pierside and transfer to the natural aquarium within the lagoon for an exciting experience. This open-water aquarium is known as one of best snorkelling spots on the atoll. With a local guide in attendance, you can admire the fascinating and colourful world of tropical fish and coral formations. Harmless black-tipped sharks may swim around you and, if you wish, you may even feed the fish.
This discovery into Rangiroa's unique open-water aquarium concludes with the boat trip back to the pier.