Rangiroa is one of the largest atolls in the world.
It is part of the Palliser group, 355km northeast of Tahiti.
Its nearest atoll is Tikehau, 12km to the west.
Rangiroa is home to about 2500 people. The chief town is Avatoru. Only two islands, at the northern end of the atoll, are permanently inhabited.
The atoll consists of 415 small islands and sandbars with a land area of 170 km². The atoll is 80km in length and from 5km to 32 km wide.
There are about 100 hundred passages through the fringing reef.
The lagoon reaches 35m deep and is so large it has its own horizon.
Rangiroa is a major diving destination because of the lagoon’s clear blue water and impressive marine fauna.
During the 1950s, the economy of Rangiroa was driven by fishing and and copra production. The building of Rangiroa Airport in 1965 allowed development of tourism.
Breeding of pearl oysters in the lagoon has produced black pearls.
These pearls vary from white to dark are the only cultured pearls with so many different natural colours.
Pearl farming is done in more than 30 atolls of French Polynesia.
Rangiroa is also known for vineyards, which are unique. The vines grow on the edge of a lagoon beside coconuts, and produce two harvests a year. The winery is in the heart of the village of Avatoru. The first vines were imported in 1992. The vineyard is Domaine Dominique Auroy.
For divers, Rangiroa has some of the best dives in the world in and around the Tiputa Pass, which lies at one end of the one main road and runs 3.5km to the Avatoru Pass.
When the tidal current is flowing inward through Tiputa Pass, about 200 sharks gather at the entrance to the Pass, at 50m deep.
The sharks can remain motionless. Large manta rays, green sea turtles and humphead wrasses can also be seen. In January, large number of stingrays gather in the Tiputa Pass, as well as hammerhead sharks that feed on them.
A notable site in the atoll is the famous Blue Lagoon, which is a smaller lagoon formed on the southwestern edge of Rangiroa. Its shallow waters accentuate the bright blue color of the water. The Pink Sands are sandbars on the southeastern portion of Rangiroa.
There are daily flight connections with Tahiti via Rangiroa Airport, located on Avatoru Island. There is a road circling Avatoru.
Explore Rangiroa and its resorts with the zoomable Google map.