Tahiti Vacations Rangiroa, the best kept Tahitian paradise secret?

Most people associate the thought of Tahiti vacations with Bora Bora. Bora Bora is wonderful, and the perfect spot for a honeymoon. However, if you’d like to see a piece of Tahiti still unspoiled by tourists you may want to consider Rangiroa for your Tahiti vacation.

Featured aerial photo: Rangiroa. Photographer: © Philippe Bacchet.

Rangiroa aerial picture. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

Is Rangiroa worth considering when looking at Tahiti vacations?

Rangiroa is by many considered a hidden pearl among the 118 islands that French Polynesia/the Tahiti islands consist of.

Unspoiled beauty and charm await on this unspoiled tranquil island, not yet overflowing with tourism. The island is considered a South Seas paradise by most visitors, myself included!

Rangiroa facts

Rangiroa is the second-largest atoll in the world. It is located in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia. However, only a few people live there. About 2,500 of French Polynesia’s (Tahiti) 283,000 people are located in Rangiroa.

The main villages on the atoll are Avatoru, with a population of 817, Tiputa, with a population of 971, and Ohutu, with its third-largest population of 546.

You can find Rangiroa on Google maps here.

How to get to Rangiroa

First, get to Papeete.

You will have your best Tahiti flight experiences by flying to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui.

Credits: Air Tahiti Nui & YouTube.

Next, fly onto Rangiroa

From Papeete, you’d catch an “island hopper” to Rangiroa on Air Tahiti.

Credits: Air Tahiti & YouTube.

The flight to Rangiroa takes about an hour from Papeete. The distance between Papeete and Rangiroa is 211 miles (339 KM).

p.s. Are you also visiting Bora Bora? You can also catch a flight from Bora Bora to Rangiroa. That’s a distance of 288 miles (464 KM). This flight also takes about an hour.

Rangiroa is an atoll, but what does an atoll consist of?

Atolls are ring-shaped reefs, islands, or a chain of islands. The reefs consist of sandbanks, coral reef formations, and motu.

What is a motu?

motu is the name for a Polynesian reef inlet. It is in effect an island with vegetation. French Polynesia is packed with motu found on its many islands.

Polynesian motu
Rangiroa motu (small islands forming part of the reefs). Credit: Digital Globe.

Coral grows upward above the sea level, with trees and vegetation growing from the surface.

At some point in history, an extinct volcanic mountainous island actually stood in the middle of the Rangiroa atoll. The extinct volcano then started slowly sinking into the ocean. A beautiful blue and turquoise-colored water-lagoon now occupy the space where the volcano once stood.

Tiputa, Rangiroa’s famous lagoon pass

Atolls don’t necessarily enclose a lagoon completely. Water once flowed from the mountains that stood in the middle. Flowing water prevented coral to form.

Thus, lagoon passes formed, creating sometimes deep passage waterways between the outlying coral reefs and the ocean outside. Lagoon passes allow draining of the lagoon during high and low tides.

Tiputa Lagoon Pass
Tiputa Lagoon Pass, Rangiroa, a diver’s favorite. Credit: Digital Globe.

Rangiroa’s drinking water

There is no running water in Rangiroa, which is typical of many atolls around the world. Rainwater has to be stored in tanks to save and recycle the precious fresh water supply.

Rangiroa Island aerial picture
Rangiroa Island from the air. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

Who can benefit most from a Rangiroa vacation?

There are so many reasons to make Rangiroa your vacation destination of a lifetime. Here are the 6 top reasons and my recommendations of things to do, places to visit, and where to eat in Rangiroa:

1. Rangiroa is the perfect Tahiti vacation if you are looking to “getting away from it all”

Rangiroa helps you experience a paradise filled with peace and tranquility. I can best describe it as tranquility that feels like it’s thousands of miles from your daily stressful work-life. In Rangiroa, you can truly tune out of the world and take in paradise the way paradise was meant to be.

2. The Ultimate Diving Cruise

You will find recommended day-excursion Rangiroa boat rides, snorkeling, and diving trips under #3 below. However, if you wish to experience a fantastic multi-day diving cruise

I would strongly recommend a very popular operator called Rangiroa Diving Cruises (Rangiroa Croisère Plongée in French). The operation is run by the highly experienced and professional couple Fred and Jean-Marie. They have been operating this adventure for many years.

Rangiroa Diving Cruises, Rangiroa Croisère Plongée
Click the logo above to get to Rangiroa Diving Cruises. You can partially translate the website from French to English by either using a Google translate addon in your browser or by clicking the English flag on the Rangiroa Diving Cruises website.

On their website, you will find their multiple-day cruise listings, stunning pictures, and videos. And, don’t forget to download the PDF Tahiti ebook provided by Air Tahiti on their site. The ebook is a whopping 94 pages of useful information, packed with Tahiti-information and pictures in French AND English!

After you see their stunning website, get acquainted. Send Fred and Jean-Marie a follow-up email using the contact form on their website. They’d love to hear from you.

3. Rangiroa is the Scuba-diving and Snorkeling-heaven on Earth

Rangiora is one of the world’s best places for scuba diving for a certified diver. Here you can see dolphins, sharks, and manta rays up close.

Along with that, you can also experience drift dives beyond anything you have ever done before.

Participating in these excursions will run you around $100 USD each.

Lagon Bleu and Île aux Récifs

Lagon Bleu and Île aux Récifs are two favorite diving excursions worth considering for your trip. Both are located about an hour boat ride from Avatoru and Tiputa. Yes, a one-hour boat ride should give you an idea that this atoll is truly huge!

Tiputa Lagoon Pass

The lagoon pass, as described above, is a diver’s heaven. Here you have a great opportunity to perform drift dives through the free-flowing waters running through the lagoon pass.

4. Lodging

Overwater bungalows, Rangiroa
Overwater bungalows, Rangiroa. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

There are lodging choices on Rangiroa. However, the one that I would recommend is Hotel Kia Ora Resort and Spa.

5. A beautiful selection of Tahitian pearls

Buying pearls are expensive, but if you want a souvenir from Tahiti to last a lifetime you may consider investing in acquiring one. Rangiroa’s Gauguins Pearl is the atoll’s pearl farm.

Gauguin’s opened in 1992, providing guided tours. They provide a fantastic educational presentation on the process of pearl production. The tour takes you from the birth of a pearl to jewelry. Check out their store for a great selection of pearl items.

Black Pearls Tahiti
Black Pearls from Tahiti. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

6. Food

The main source of foods on Rangiroa is typical of most atolls. Seafood can be found in the atoll’s own “backyard”, resulting in many seafood delicacies being served. Of course, other foods are offered too.

List of recommended eating places in Avatoru, Rangiroa

Please note: These places are all good. They are listed in alphabetical order. There are a few more eating places too, but here are the ones I would personally recommend.

  1. Cafe Obelix: European & Polynesian.
  2. Cafe Rio: Pizza.
  3. Chez Auguste et Antoinette: Polynesian & French.
  4. Chez Lili: European & Polynesian.
  5. Raira Lagon: International & Polynesian. The restaurant is sitting on the lagoon.
  6. Snack Puna: Polynesian deli 7 grill. They are known for their delicious curry flavors.
  7. Snack Rangiroa Plage: Polynesian.
  8. Te Mao Rangiroa: French & European.

Cons about Rangiroa

I really cannot list any cons about a Tahiti vacation in Rangiroa, or anywhere else in Tahiti. And, I am not even a certified diver! The peace and quiet and the true French Polynesian South Seas paradise atmosphere of Rangiroa makes it perfect for anyone to visit.

Tahiti is not a typical budget traveler’s destination. The best advice I can give you to keep your vacation as low budget as possible is to order your whole vacation trip as a package.

You can best find such vacation packages and specials by using a travel agent specializing in Tahiti vacations. Or, check out the package tours offered by such as Air Tahiti Nui, AAA, or even Costco Travel.

Do you need one of French Polynesia’s most famous professional photographers for an assignment in Tahiti?

Philippe Bacchet, Tahiti photographer
Philippe Bacchet, Professional Photographer of Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Sylvestre Dupré.

The stunning French Polynesia pictures that you see on Captain Jetson’s Tahiti article-series was taken by Philippe Bacchet. Philippe may be available for an assignment for your Tahiti-project. You can contact him here. Attn: Philippe.

We’ll make sure he gets your message.

So, would Rangiroa be a consideration for you if you were looking at Tahiti vacations? Let us hear your opinion! You can contact us here.

Article updated July 22, 2020.

You can read our other articles in our Visiting Tahiti-series here:

How to travel to Tahiti, even on a budget!

Tahiti Tourism Travel Guide

Taking Stunning Tourism Pictures in Tahiti

Bora Bora and Tahiti Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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