Manihi is a small coral atoll in French Polynesia. Manihi is part of the Tuamotu island chain, and it is a part of the King George group within the archipelago. As of 2012, there were about 685 residents on the island. Manihi is best known for its black Tahitian pearls. The highly prized black pearls have been grown artificially on the island since the mid-1960s, when the first pearl farm was established. The pearls are grown on the island's expansive and nutrient-rich inner lagoon, and pearl production remains a key part of the atoll's economy.
As with many small islands in the Pacific, Manihi has a past filled with European discovery and exploration. Two Dutch sailors reported reaching the atoll in the early 1600s. The Dutchmen named the atoll “Waterlandt,” or “Water Land,” most likely because of its large lagoon. Successive European explorers introduced many crops to the atoll, including coconut trees.
Today, coconut products and tourism, which are activities inspired by European influence, are major sources of the island's economic income. Fishing is also a primary economic endeavor. There is an airport on the island, which has regular flights to Tahiti, as well as a luxury hotel. The main language spoken by natives is Mihiroa, and most islanders live in the village of Tuipaoa, which is located on the western part of the island. The eastern part of the atoll contains remnants of a historic village.
A large part of Manihi's surface area is covered by a large lagoon. The lagoon, in turn, is surrounded by a number of islets. The islets are separated from each other by passageways that lead out to the Pacific. The passageways are filled with many types of aquatic species, including the manta ray and four species of sharks. Some shark species, like the lemon shark, have also been seen passing through. There are also countless fish species in the waters around Manihi, including grouper, bonitos, angel fish, and jackfish. Moray eels, dolphins, and sea slugs have been spotted off the coast as well. The islet habitats are also conducive to the growth of several varieties of coral. Beneath the surface of the waters around the island are large gardens made of coral and pearl. The abundance of natural life makes the area popular for snorkeling and diving.