If you are looking to travel to Rangiroa, these travel tips are for you.
Rangiroa is not an actual island but an atoll in French Polynesia. In fact, it’s the world’s second largest made up of 240 islets strung together for more than 110 miles (177 km), completely encircling a deep lagoon. To give you a sense of the lagoon’s scale, the inside of the lagoon is so large it could hold the entire island of Tahiti.
Rangiroa is a quiet, perfect place to escape the chaos of day to day life. It’s population is only around 2,500 with two main villages, Avatoru and Tiputa.
Rangiroa or Ra’iroa whic means “endless skies,” which seems very fitting. While looking out at the lagoon, all you can see is sea and water which is breathtakingly beautiful during the day but also makes for epic sunsets at night.
How to get to there
Rangiroa is literally in the middle of nowhere. Getting there by plane is about an hour flight from Papeete, where French Polynesia‘s international airport is located. Also, there are various French Polynesian cruises that stop in Rangiroa.
As you can imagine there aren’t endless options when it comes to accommodations. We stayed at the Hotel Kia Ora Resort and Spa in a Beach Deluxe Bungalow. Having now been there, this was definitely the right choice for us. It’s a fairly large, lagoon side “bungalow” with it’s own pool, where we did spend quite a bit of time.
Rangiroa is renowned worldwide for its breathtaking dive spots. Since we aren’t divers, we obviously didn’t do that but we did spend plenty of time in the water experiencing what Rangiroa has to offer.
The Ria Ora Resort has an activities desk where you can book various tours. You can rent bikes, mopeds or even a car. They also have kayaks, Tahitian canoes and snorkel gear that you can borrow.
While there, we signed up for two tours: one to the Blue Lagoon and the other to Reef Island.
The Blue Lagoon is simply the most beautiful place on earth that we have ever been! Our tour was small, only guests from our hotel, everyone on the tour agreed that this was the most beautiful place that they had ever seen.
Around 9 am, the tour left from our hotel dock and getting there was about an hour boat ride.
Our first stop was just a short distance from the Blue Lagoon, allowing us to snorkel with sharks. These were lemon and blacktip reef sharks, not overly threatening to humans.
A few minutes later, we were at the lagoon. Boats can’t actually enter so we anchored in shallow waters just on the outside. From there, we walked a short distance to a private motu. What’s a motu you might ask? It’s a reef islet formed by broken coral and sand. Pro tip, make sure to wear water shoes for the walk as it is mostly on coral.
I don’t even know how to describe what came next. Warm shallow blue waters, in shades that I have never seen before, with the softest white sand. And, no pictures don’t do it justice.
As soon as we arrived at the hut, we were given snacks and drinks with free time to explore. We headed straight for the water, where we stayed for quite a while. The water is pretty shallow and quite warm.
The Blue Lagoon is a shark nursery. So, there were plenty of baby sharks and stingrays swimming around.
Our tour guides prepared a lunch of local dishes. Everything was delicious, but the star of the show was the coconut bread.
After lunch, we enjoyed some more free time to explore other motus around and enjoy the waters of the lagoon. It was such a relaxing day!
On the way back, we made a few more stops. the first one to visit an ancient Polynesian burial site and a quick swim.
We made another stop, this time at the Aquarium to snorkel with larger fish and sharks.
Finally, we headed to the Tiputa Pass in the hopes of seeing dolphins. Unfortunately, they must have been hiding that day, no dolphins in sight.
We arrived back at the resort around 4 pm.
This tour was also a full day tour. Pick up was at the hotel’s dock with a boat ride of about an hour.
As soon as we made it to the motu, we dropped off our stuff and were free to swim around. With our guide, we walked over to see the reefs. The reefs look like lava formations, but are entirely made of coral. Between the reefs, there are pools with various fish, baby sharks and water snakes. We spent some time exploring and swimming in the various pools.
Walked back, to the hut for lunch. It was very similar to the lunch we had on the Blue Lagoon tour. It was also delicious.
After lunch, there was another swimming opportunity. They also showed us how to make a handbag out of palms and gave us some fresh coconut water.
On our way back to the resort, we made a stop in the village in Tiputa and did a quick walk around. We hoped back on the boat, and headed Aquarium for a quick snorkel.
Again, we attempted to see dolphins in the Tiputa Pass for dolphins. But, no luck this time either. And, by 5 pm we were back at the resort.
Both of these tours were fantastic, but if you can only do one, pick the Blue Lagoon.
Pink Sand Beach
Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to visit the Pink Sand Beach. If we had more time we would have definitely gone. The main reason for not going is because it’s a close to a two hour boat ride away and we were only there for a few short days, so we didn’t want to spend that much time on a boat.
In case you were wondering what makes the sand pink, it’s from broken pieces of coral and foraminifera – a long name for tiny pink crustaceans.
The only way to get from one motu to the other is by boat. For those of you that suffer from motion sickness, don’t worry too much. We both usually get seasick, but the lagoon is fairly calm so we had no issues. But to be safe, we relied on Bonine to help prevent any issues.
Within a motu you can drive around in a car, but it’s definitely not required. We did rent bikes from our resort for a few hours. It allowed us to go explore a little bit and have a meal at a local restaurant.
Where to Eat
We did eat most of our meals at the resort. The food there was very good. The breakfast, a great buffet with many options, was included in the rate. Lunch and dinners are a la carte.
While there we did get to enjoy one of their Polynesian Evenings which consists of delicious Polynesian buffet and a Polynesian dance show. For those of you that have been to a luau in Hawaii, it’s a very similar experience.
Each of the tours that we took did offer lunch, snacks and water. They offered mostly local dishes like, poisson cru (Polynesian Ceviche or raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk), cooked lagoon fish, coconut bread but also had chicken and rice.
And we did try a local restaurant, Snack Puna. The food was great and the portions were huge for the price.
Should you visit?
Yes! But, here are a few things to consider before booking.
- It is very quiet and remote, it is beautiful and very relaxing but if you are looking for nightlife, you are likely to be dissapointed.
- Most everyting you will need is available as there is supermarket and some smaller markets, but if you are at all particular about brands make sure to bring what you need with you.
- If you are looking for a luxury vacation, you won’t get it there.
- Most of the activities involve the lagoon in some way. If you don’t like sand and water, this probably isn’t for you.
Finally, if you are planning a trip to French Polynesia and looking for more content, the posts listed below might interest you.