Part of French Polynesia, the stunning tropical atoll of Tikehau is known for its natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle. The island is a little less than 20 miles long and 15 miles wide.
Tikehau is home to about 530 inhabitants. Most of the population lives in the village Tuherahera, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in the Tuamotus and possibly even the French Polynesian archipelago. Most of the island's population lives along the south shore, while the remote northern shore is rife with plant and animal life. The island's economy is supported mostly by tourism, and it is also a world-class destination for snorkeling and diving. Travel is supported by the island's airport, where flights can reach Tahiti in less than one hour.
Unlike many Pacific islands, Tikehau was not discovered until relatively recently in history. The first record of human activity on the island dates back to the late 1830s, when a Russian sailor documented landing on the island's shores. The island was also a stopping point for naturalist Jacques Cousteau's expedition in the late 1980s. Upon setting foot on Tikehau, Cousteau declared it to have more species of fish than any other location in the French Polynesian islands.
Topography and Geology
The island itself is formed from coral reefs, and it rises less than 30 feet above sea level. Tikehau's surface is covered with beautiful white and pink sandy beaches, and the waters around its shores are a clear turquoise blue.
Above and below water level, Tikehau is known for its bountiful array of marine life. The fish species that live in the waters around Tikehau are a continued attraction for divers and snorkelers, and they also support the livelihoods of the local fisherman. Coconut trees, which are a non-native species introduced by explorers, continue to thrive in Tikehau's tropical climate, and they are also a source of economic revenue for locals. Barracudas are one resident species, along with snapper, clownfish, and tuna. Dozens of colorful tropical fish also live in the reefs and in the alcoves along the atoll's shores. Resident and transient seabirds also call the island home, and many live on a secluded islet at the northern end of the island called Bird Island.