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Tuerahera

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination French Polynesia

Tuerahera is the largest village of Tikehau, meaning 'Peaceful Landing' in Tuamotuan, the local language. One of the most beautiful places on the planet, Tikehau is one of the best places to clear your head and with only 400 inhabitants, you'll be sure to be left alone! The remote coral atoll of the Palliser Islands is also known as Porutu-kai. The Palliser Islands are part of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia, 211 miles northeast of Tahiti. Tuamotu comprises 77 atolls altogether, all created via volcanic eruptions. Tikehau Airport is located within walking distance of Tuerahera and operates flights to and from Tahiti only.

The atoll is made up of lots of islets and two major islands, all of which are part if the Rangiroa commune. The islands are what dreams are made of: palm-fringed white and pink sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. As the entire atoll of Palliser is protected by a reef, this area is the most diverse when it comes to marine life in French Polynesia and is therefore a real haven for professional divers looking to wander off the beaten track.

The Tuamotu Archipelago is the largest chain of atolls in the world, spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe. The islands are part of a semi-autonomous overseas French territory, which shares the same culture and language as the rest of Polynesia. The country's main industry is the cultivation of the Black Pearl and the cultivation of copra (dried coconut flesh, usually used to extract coconut oil and for livestock feed).

Tuerahera: what to do?

Diving is a must here and seeing as there isn't much else going on, it's the perfect opportunity to explore the atoll's rich marina fauna and flora, but also just to relax and feel the constraints of time fall away. It is also interesting to accompany the locals in cultivating copra, coconut flesh, which is an important commodity in agriculture in this part of the world. It's also fascinating to shadow Black Pearl farmers, especially if you know nothing about this rare industry.

You should also explore surrounding islands and if you get the chance, travel to the other atolls, like Rangiroa, the largest atoll and most populated in the world.

If you've travelled all the way to French Polynesia, then it would just be ridiculous not to pull on your diving gear and head for one of the most beautiful places on Earth - the ocean floors in the Palliser atoll around Tikehau. If you go with a diving expert they will be able to show you the koko or 'blue holes', which are tunnels of crystal clear water with extremely strong currents; one of the many natural phenomena to explore in the Tuamotu Archipelago. The two main villages include the well-planted Tuerahera and Tuheiava, which is the main area for lagoon fishing. It supplies Tahiti with fish. Ornithologists will be happy to hear that there is also a rich diversity in rare birds to be spotted in the area, including the Red-footed Booby.

  • The rich marine life.
  • The stunning beaches.
  • The slow relaxing pace of life.
  • The locals' relaxed attitude.
  • Some travellers light find the area a little too remote.
  • If sunbathing and diving aren't your cup of tea, then it's more than likely that you get very bored as there isn't much else to do.

Reminders

Before leaving for the Tuamotu Archipelago, make sure you have all the diving gear you will need as the islands are extremely remote and there are close to no shops that are likely to stock what you are looking for. Keen divers should visit the archipelago from June to October, when underwater visibility is at its best. November to May tend to be humid months and underwater visibility tends to be poor.

July tends to be the busiest season, due to the Heiva Festival, so make sure you book well in advance if you are planning on visiting the area around this time of the year.

To avoid

The lagoons surrounding each motu or islet, can be deceivingly beautiful as there are many dangers to think about when venturing out, which is why all divers must be accompanied by an expert and must not go out alone. This zone is known for its unexpectedly strong currents, especially close to 'blue holes'. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear when diving as coral cuts can be extremely painful and can take a long time to heal. Beware of jellyfish, nono (black flies) and Stone Fish, which are hard to see as they hide under a thin layer of sand along the ocean floor and can hide in shallow waters.

Some locals may want to impress you by taking you to feed sharks, but this is extremely disruptive to the area's ecosystem, so avoid feeding any type of fish. Also, when diving take extra care not to knock or touch the coral, no matter how tempting, as coral breaks very easily and takes years to grow back (approximately a centimetre a year).

Tuerahera: what to eat?

Try your hand at fishing with the locals, who will be more than happy to show you the ropes as long you are genuinely interested in their trade.

Tuerahera: what to buy?

In this atoll there isn't much in terms of shopping, but there is a strong handicraft trade in products derived from coconut like woven baskets. However, you won't need to bring back anything more than the memories of a veritable experience of a lifetime - we can't guarantee that you won't suffer from serious withdrawal symptoms!

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