gardenia tiare flower fakarava atoll french polynesia

5 Days In Fakarava

5 Days In Fakarava

Last updated on March 9th, 2022

Day 3: Scuba Diving & Exploring The Village

It’s another day of scuba diving in paradise.

Drift Dive

Another early start of the day and another two-tank morning dive. It’s back to the north pass, this time for a bit of drift diving. The best time for a drift dive in Fakarava is during ‘slack tide’. This is when the incoming current is just starting. You’ll begin the dive once again in the coral garden, but this time on the very edge of the Ohotu Cliff. When the timing is right, you’ll begin to ride the current back into the lagoon.

The feeling of drift diving in the north pass can only be described as riding on the roof of a speedy bullet train. You are simply flying past helpless fish, small canyons, and channels. All you need to do is enjoy the ride and… remember to breathe!

Diving Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia North Pass Garuae Ohotu Cliff drift

Alibaba Canyon

You’ll finish off the drift in the Alibaba Canyon. Keep your head down and don’t forget to look up. Above you, sharks are enjoying a break from the current and maybe even marlin. We spotted one just before the final ascent. This magnificent creature is something of a rarity here. Its huge spear sticking out of the front is something I’ll never forget.

Diving Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia North Pass Garuae grey reef shark

Exploring Rotoava Village

Back at the pension, take a quick break and grab a bicycle to head into town. Treat yourself to a crepe on the beach at Snack Paillote and simply explore the cute village of Rotoava. Highlights include the whitewashed Catholic church (I highly recommend coming here for Sunday service), the Taputavaka Lighthouse just behind the Relais Marama and simply sucking in the laid-back vibe of the village. Don’t forget to smell the flowers! Hibiscus and heavenly scented gardenia bloom from just about every corner.

Rotoava Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia
Catholic church Rotoava Village Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia
gardenia tiare flower fakarava atoll french polynesia

South of Rotoava

I particularly enjoyed cycling south of the village, where the road swings from the lagoon to the reef. There’s not much out here aside from the open ocean and lots of coconut trees. You can cycle for another 10 kilometers on the paved road and continue for much more on the dirt track leading to nowhere. You’ll pretty much be all alone out here and that’s part of the fun!

cycling fakarava atoll french polynesia

Empty road Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia

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For dinner, ask for a free pickup and head to Snack Chez Elda. This was my favorite place for dinner, serving huge portions of traditional fish dishes and seriously large cocktails. If you’re having a tough time choosing, Elda’s got you covered with her excellent value combo deals. She’ll even drive you back to your pension.

Snack Chez Elda fakarava french polynesia

Day 4: Scuba Diving & Relaxing

Today will be our final day of diving in Fakarava. Book a two-tank morning dive or sleep in and go for an afternoon dive, whatever works for you. It’s back to the north pass and yet another thrilling drift dive.

Nurse Shark Cave

This time, we’ll fly back into the lagoon and finish off in and around the ‘nurse shark cave’. As its name suggests, there’s usually a nurse shark inside the cave. When the current is strong, fish from around the area meet at this sheltered spot to take a break and chill for a bit. So do the sharks, in my case a two-meter-long female.

Diving Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia North Pass Garuae Ohotu Cliff nurse shark cave

Everybody seems to get along around here, but outside was a different story. You might get to see one final wall of sharks before saying goodbye to (probably) the best scuba diving in French Polynesia!

Have a look at the top highlights from the memorable scuba diving in Fakarava!

Relax & Dine

Use the rest of the day to relax and revisit some of your favorite spots. For lunch, head to the Havaiki Hotel and grab a spot on the shady deck overlooking the radiating lagoon. Traditional Polynesian dishes are the main draw here, including the ‘national dish’ of French Polynesia – the poisson cru!

Havaiki Hotel fakarava french polynesia

Day 5: Excursion To Lagon Bleu or Relax

On your last day in paradise, head out on a full or half-day excursion to visit Le Lagon Bleu. Your excursion will take you to the other side of the atoll for some snorkeling and lounging on dreamy motu (small islets) with their picture-postcard beaches. If you want to take it ‘easy’, maybe just cycle back to PK9 beach (see day 1).

What’s Next?

This sample 5 days in Fakarava itinerary can be extended or shortened, depending on the number of dives you wish to do. For more information about Fakarava and French Polynesia, check out these recommended guides.

Independent Traveler's Guide to French Polynesia


See Full Guide


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