The atoll of Fakarava has been a UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve since 2006, so it's not surprising that visitors to the island are often amazed by the size of its sprawling lagoon, which appears to meet the ocean somewhere on the horizon. The turquoise waters near the shores of the lagoon become much darker further out, giving some idea of its depth (up to 164 ft in the middle, at what was the bottom of the now immersed crater). The coral ellipsis of Fakarava is 17 mi long by 5 mi wide, meaning that it takes an hour and a half by boat to travel the length of the atoll, from the motu of Rotoava (at the northern pass) to the motu of Tetamanu (alongside the southern pass). Rotoava is the largest motu in the atoll and it is also where you will find the airport, the village and most of the accommodation (a hotel and a dozen or so guesthouses), although you can also stay on the motus close to the southern pass. It is the only motu to have an asphalt road - a grey band running between the houses dotted around its coconut plantation - though it is only useful if you have a bike or a scooter as there is no car hire or taxi on the atoll of Fakarava. Given the extraordinary nature of the Fakarava lagoon, two-thirds of holidaymakes come here primarily for the diving, whilst others spend their time snorkelling, kayaking or even getting to grips with the Polynesian pirogue boat. Of course, if none of that takes your fancy, you could always just lie back and relax on the beach! A little further inland, Fakarava is also home to various pearl farms which are open for visitors to come and see how the famous Tahitian pearls are born.