Tuamotus Favorites

reflections in the turquoise waters in Makemo, Tuamoutus Favorites

We spent a few months in the Tuamotus, and would gladly return, because the water is beautiful and the living is easy. We visited several islands in the archipelago, enjoying our experiences in each. Read on for our Tuamotus favorites: where to anchor and eat and fun activities to enjoy.

Favorite Anchorages

This is for the sailors out there, and is based on our limited knowledge of only a handful of motus. We barely scratched the surface in this archipelago. Still, we can’t talk about our Tuamotus favorites without mentioning our favorite spots to stay on the boat for a while and these are definitely worth mentioning.

anchorage, sailboats, Fakarava, Tuamotus
Boats at anchor in Hirifa, Fakarava

Hirifa, Fakarava

Hirifa is paradise for liveaboards. It has almost everything a cruiser needs: good internet, calm water for swimming and paddling, nice beaches for chill time, and for the kiteboarders, a sandbar for launching and consistent winds. Friends spent so much time there, they started a cruisers net.

anchored in Hirifa, Fakarava
On anchor in beautiful Hirifa, Fakarava

Hirifa is nestled into a corner in the southeastern part of Fakarava, about an hour’s sail from the south pass. When we were there, we even got a local dive boat to take us on dives of the south pass with drop off and pick up from our anchorage. What more can you ask for in an anchorage?


A less celebrated anchorage, but not for long, is this one in eastern Makemo, which is about 2 hours sail from the town. What do we love about it? First is the large beach, and is extremely quiet with very few humans on shore. Second is that the water stays very shallow for a long time from the beach. This makes for a large area for floating, swimming, or soaking in the water near the beach.

beach Makemo Tuamotus favorites
The beach and endless blue at Eastern Makemo

Another plus for this anchorage is even though it’s remote, the internet worked. Finally, Eastern Makemo had lots of marine life! Mantas visited our boat, and sharks were often swimming in the shallows near shore.

Manta ray swimming in Eastern Makemo, one of our favorite anchorages in Tuamotus

Tuamotus Favorite Restaurants

We spent most of our time in Fakarava, for the diving and convenience to amenities including good restaurants. Our most visited restaurant in the Tuamotus, maybe in all of French Polynesia, is just outside of Rotoava, Fakarava.

A beach bar/restaurant is a rare thing in French Polynesia and Le snack du Requin Dormeur is a good one. Named for the docile sleeping sharks in the water just offshore, this place checks off a lot of musts. With a dock for dinghies, good burgers and poke bowls, tables overlooking and in the water, and cold Hinanos, no wonder we returned again and again.

Tuamotus favorite, burger and beer in Fakarava beach bar
Burger and beer in paradise

Another fabulous must eat restaurant in the Tuamotus is in Rangiroa at a beachfront pension. Les Relais de Josephine offers fine dining quality meals in a decidedly non-stuffy setting. Serving a set menu of delicious French food at night, and a la carte for lunch, with great views of the dolphins jumping waves in Tiputa Pass, this is another of our Tuamotus favorites.

Favorite Sites in the Tuamotus

The Tuamotus are known for the water and diving, but we found some tourist attractions. These are the ones we recommend, scattered across the motus.

Tiputa Pass Dolphin watching, Rangiroa

Every evening at around dusk, the dolphins who live in Rangiroa make a habit of jumping the waves in the pass. As a result, it’s become common to either go to the park on the ocean side of the pass to watch for jumping dolphins. Alternatively, go have a sundowner at Relais de Josephine to watch the show!

Watch to the end to see the dolphins jump in Rangiroa pass

Blue Lagoon of RarioA

Our first motu was Rarioa. Aside from beginning our education in bommie watching, it was our introduction to that gorgeous coral blue water. Our first Blue Lagoon of French Polynesia may have been our favorite. Maybe twenty or thirty minutes from the anchorage, it was worth the short hike and we had this beautiful beach all to ourselves.

Blue lagoon, Tuamotus favorite
The Blue Lagoon of Raroia

Pearl Farm at Havaiki Lodge Fakarava

Pearl farming is a big industry in the Tuamotus, and the easiest pearl farm to visit is at the dock at the same resort with our favorite beach bar. They walk you through all the specifics of how they farm, and even have a fun lottery where you can pay to pick an oyster and get whatever’s inside.

pearl farm Fakarava
Pearl Farm at Havaiki Lodge

Cave a Vin Rangiroa

We were not expecting much at the only winery in French Polynesia. Especially since the land is coral in the Tuamotus! But the wine, while salty, was still decent, and the tasting and tour was interesting.

wines at wine tasting in Rangiroa Tuamotus
Wines at Cave de Rangiroa

shark watching at the south pass Fakarava

We’ve seen sharks all over French Polynesia. We’ve seen them near the shores in Moorea and on dives in Tahiti. But no place is as good for spotting sharks as the South Pass of Fakarava. This spot is shark watching central.

Black tip shark in azure water, French Polynesia
A black tip shark swimming in the Fakarava lagoon

You don’t have to go diving to see the sharks at the south pass (but you should). All you need to do is visit the dock, maybe have a cold Hinano or other beverage at the restaurant, and watch the sharks swim around. Go before lunch or dinner when the kitchen staff throw out the scraps for the best show. Guaranteed.

Watching sharks is a highlight in Fakarava and The Tuamotus

Best Provisioning

I’ve mentioned that provisioning in The Tuamotus was a challenge, but we did find a bright light at the supermarket in Makemo. They have air shipments with fresh veggies on the regular, so even if you miss the weekly boat, you’re good. One time they flew in oysters from New Zealand (for Christmas) which was a nice treat!

Supermarket, Makemo
The best supermarket in the Tuamotus is in Makemo

Favorite Hikes

That’s a joke. Everything is flat and made of coral. The few times we tried it involved climbing and slipping on coral rocks so we gave up on trying. While there’s no hiking, you can rent bikes and ride around some of the bigger islands, which we did on both Fakarava and Rangiroa. We laughed when we saw all the locals riding ebikes in the Tuamotus, but when you’re pedaling upwind, I can see the need!

On a break from cycling with friends in Fakarava
Posing with Andrew and Jazz from SV Veritas and our rental bikes in Fakarava

We’ve moved on from the Tuamotus as we make our way westward, but it’s nice to remember our Tuamotus favorites. What do you think? What’s the first motu you’d visit, restaurant you’d try, or thing you’d do? Share in the comments.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

6 thoughts on “Tuamotus Favorites”

    1. You covered most of the good spots. For us Fakarave south pass was definitely a highlight. Our first atoll, Raroia, was outstanding and we felt like the explorer Thor Heyerdahl. Great experience! Or feeding the chicks of a local on Toau! He had to leave his motu for a trip to the doctor in Tahiti. The sailors helped him out 👍 The Tuamotus are the best what we have experienced so far on our 5 years journey.

  1. All your posts about this area look like paradise! Sharks, pearls (did you find one!?), tasty food and the most beautiful water in the world! I can see why you loved it so much! Do you think you’ll go back each year?

    It just needs a few hills/hikes to make it completely perfect as a destination! 😉

    1. Hi Josy, The lack of hikes is the one negative, but otherwise, wow! Our year in French Polynesia is almost over, and I don’t know if or when we’ll be back. We have met people who don’t leave and understand why. We’re going to be sad to go, but also excited to head west and explore new places!

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