Tikehau: Island of Pink Sands
Tikehau encapsulates the meaning of going off the grid. This small, cherished atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago consists of countless tiny white and pink sand islets engulfed in coconut groves and hidden alcoves. In Tikehau, which actually means "peaceful landing," you will find nothing but absolute serenity on her calm and graceful shores. The lagoon, formed by an almost unbroken ring of continuous coral, resembles an immense natural swimming pool. At only 16 miles (25 kilometers) across and no more than 100 feet (30 meters) deep, this underwater aquarium is teeming with marine life. According to the legendary marine researcher Jacques Cousteau, it has a higher concentration of fish than any other lagoon in French Polynesia. As you can imagine, diving and snorkeling are the two main attractions in Tikehau. The best diving is found on the western shore around the Tuheiava Pass, the only navigable entry into the lagoon. You will encounter reef sharks and the occasional manta ray, but the appeal here is the enormous population of colorful fish. Tikehau also has some of the best beaches and secluded islets in the region. On the eastern side of the atoll, there is a long, curving beach covered in pink sand. You can easily wade in the water and snorkel from one islet to the next. You can also take a boat into the middle of the lagoon and visit Motu Puarua at the northeastern end. This small islet, known as Bird Island, is a natural aviary for numerous colonies of nesting sea birds. Tikehau is like something you would see on a postcard. The scenery here is especially spectacular, both above and below the water. Whether you plan to spend your days in complete isolation or prefer the interaction with friendly locals and vibrant marine life, Tikehau is your personal playground.