Fakarava is on the top of my favorite places list!
You must love the water and laid back dress and attitude of island life and you will appreciate this atoll. It has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for the preservation of rare species that can be found here both in the air and the sea. Less than 2000 people live here.
The airport is located on the part of the atoll where the village is, which has a few stores. The stand next to the pearl shop is where we found the most inexpensive water & snacks of our entire trip. Plus the local ice cream Taro, which is purple and taste like vanilla, can be bought here.
It is the 2nd largest lagoon, after Rangiroa, and it also has 2 main passes Garuae, in the north and Tetamanu in the south. The north pass is near the main village where you will likely be staying. The coral is beautiful and it reminded me of the coral at the pass in Rangiroa. More on diving below.
You will be missing out if you do not make a trip down here. It is about an hour and half boat ride. We hired a private boat, Captain Matt, it was 9,000xpf per person for 4 of us. And worth every cent! We docked on the property of Pension Tetamanu which also has a restaurant and dive shop. The coral is so colorful, alive and just everywhere. Upon arrival you will see the fins of the black tip sharks breaking the surface, a huge blue napoleon and large schools of fish. One only needs to jump off the dock to do what I believe is among the best snorkeling in the world!
On the other side of this narrow pass is the pink beach. This was the best beach we encountered during our trip. It was postcard perfect, South Pacific. Plus the water was so warm.
This is where I had a very bad experience with Top Dive, I had used them all trip but it was this shop that had me considering not diving anymore on the island. The DM needlessly broke coral, fed a seaturtle with his mouth, and acted like it was a race against the tide. From the minute I stepped in the shop I should had know. The manager made us feel as if we were a bother. Anyway after an AWFUL first dive, I decided to try another shop Dive Spirit. This husband/wife team had just opened for business and they were wonderful. I loved the fact that the DM Matias, also the owner, brought a slate down and identified all those funky fish for me. He is a true professional, a person you will not only feel comfortable diving with but you will learn something in the process. Cost was 8500xpf but they are part of the independent discount 10 dive pass. (see the French Polynesia page for more info)
Down in the Southern Pass I dove with Tetamanu Dive. Laurant was another professional that I was pleased to dive with. This was the least expensive place to dive in all the atolls we visited. I paid 6000xpf for 1 tank. The dive here is all about sharks. Black tip, white tip, silver tip, gray tip, etc…. At one point we were surrounded by 100 sharks just circling us. It is just beautiful. The current is fun and you get a nice ride, not to mention this was the most jaw dropping coral I have ever seen. The coral was purple, pink, green, yellow with fish that were neon blue, green and purple. Just breathtaking!
Another highlight was, Pension Havaiki, this place was the perfect island get away!
I admit I was reluctant going to a place with no warm water or air conditioner and mosquito nets around the bed. But I was quick to learn how little such things are needed when you are in an island, or shall I say, atoll oasis.
The rooms are basic yet clean & comfortable, but with grounds such as these you will only be in there to sleep. The beach is a wide long stretch of sand with tables, lounge chairs and palm frond umbrellas. The place reminded me of the nautical style you find in the old time Florida Keys. There’s a snack bar on the beach offering the freshest of fish and other sandwiches. The kayaks and paddle boards are free of charge, and you can snorkel in the warm sky blue lagoon where sting rays are a common sight.