Manihi conjures castaway dreams. It’s as though you’ve arrived through a time portal into an impossible tropical fantasy. Far from the modern world in French Polynesia, the Mana spirit of Manihi thrives around the crystal-clear lagoon that is the site of Tahiti’s first black pearl farm.
Manihi is an atoll that is a collection of motu islets in the Tuamotu Archipelago located just over 400 miles northwest of Bora Bora. Manihi’s inner lagoon is the perfect setting for the farming of Tahitian black pearls. Gifted with all of the right qualities including temperature, brightness, density and salinity, Manihi is a living treasure chest in the South Pacific for these precious jewels.
The origin of the Tahitian cultured mother of pearl was born in Manihi in 1965. This lagoon, famous for its oyster, saw the birth of the first pearl farm. Since then, the atoll’s islanders have been very passionate about producing pearls. There is a plethora of pearl farms in the lagoon of Manihi. A visit to one of these farms is a unique experience that helps you better understand exactly how much work goes into sourcing these precious gems. In The Islands of Tahiti, we consider pearls to be a genuine incarnation of the beauty of our Tahitian lagoons.
Visitors stand in awe of Manihi’s lagoon and its crystal clear waters, brilliant coral reefs and fine sand beaches. Fishing is perfect for all skill levels, and kayaking is the picture-perfect experience for first-timers and seasoned travelers alike.
For those who like to dive right in, Manihi provides an ideal environment. Warm crystal-clear waters and private encounters with a rich marine fauna is exactly how diving should be. Marine life, including manta rays, sharks and moray eels congregate in the lagoon’s still waters to feed. Beautiful coral reefs take the form of rose petals along the deep walls and serve as the perfect backdrop for small tropical fish schools like butterflyfish and long-finned bannerfish.
Experienced divers will enjoy drifting along Turipaoa Pass. As water surges in and out of the lagoon, it creates conditions for incredible drift dives that feel like surfing underwater.
This remote coral atoll has a population of less than 1,000 and offers visitors a much slower speed of life. Residents are mainly pearl or coconut farmers and fishers whose livelihoods depend on the natural environment.
The colorful and flowery village of Turipaoa along the pass of the same name offers a peaceful Tuamotu ambience, nicely blending with the sight of basket weaving skills of local women and the sound of children splashing along the lagoon. Most houses feature a dedicated pearl farming activity. Keep an eye out for ropes, buoys and suspended mother of pearl oyster throughout Manihi.
Reaching Manihi is best done by plane. Papeete is a major hub for flights for all of The Islands of Tahiti that offers direct flights to Manihi. Flights are also available to and from the nearby island of Rangiroa. There is no regular shuttle service between the Manihi airport and the island’s major Guesthouse and town. Visitors are encouraged to book these arrangements ahead of their arrival.
Even though the island is small, visitors do have a few options for Manihini accommodations when they arrive. Guests can choose from a world-class resort with overwater bungalows or guesthouses run by families that offer a warm and intimate stay. Both options will create memorable experiences for island visitors.