Rangiroa, Islands and Pearl Farms

This morning we sail into Rangiroa. The island is brilliant and sunny. It is also my birthday. James and I meet Rick and Sandy on the bridge early to come into the Tuamotu and Rangiroa.

It had rained earlier and there was a rainbow. Then another rainbow appeared. As if nature wanted to be sure that I was at my happiest, dolphins came up to Aranui and said hello.

Frosty, I know you will need proof.

If you want a natural high, I suggest you start your birthday with a wonderful husband, rainbows and dolphins and good friends. Yes, I know the picture could be sharper but isn’t the water the most spectacular colour?

Rangiroa is the second largest coral atoll in the world. If climate change raises water levels, these motu will be submerged. Visually, you see blue and white dominate the landscape instead of the lush green volcanic islands of the Marquesas. To fully see Rangiroa, you need a drone or an airplane.

If we look at island formation, we see first an erupting volcano thrusting out of the ground and in time it is covered in trees and plants and birds. These are the Marquesas Islands. Over millennia, a volcanic island like Bora Bora will develop a ring of coral around its edge and begin to subside and erode. Instead of getting taller the mountains of the island will wear away. BoraBora is a subsiding volcano with a ring of coral creating its lagoon.

The third stage of this island making is a coral atoll, a subsided volcano, now enclosed in a coral reef. This is the stage the Tuamotu are in, sand bars on top of coral. Whether the coral attached to a submarine volcano or a subsided volcano there is no volcanic activity in known history.


If you are coming for a vacation here, you will be happiest if you are a scuba diver or a pearl connoisseur. Speaking of pearls, we went to the pearl farm and discovered how they cultured the pearls in Rangiroa.


Black Pearl oyster


Unlike Australian Paspaley Pearls or Japanese cultured pearls, black pearls come in a range of colours, which is influenced by the insertion of a piece of mantle from a sacrificed oyster, into a tiny pouch on the accepting oyster. The mother of pearl of the shell above is quite silvery and you can see the pearl in the tiny pouch ready to be harvested. Pearls are used for three pearls and then their pearls lose their quality. Tahitian pearls are graded and cost ranges on quality.

Carefully adding a pearl nucleus to the pouch with a bit of mantle

First let me mention that we have it on the highest authority, that the best way to motivate your children to do well in high school and continue onto university, is to send them to work on a pearl farm. After six months or so, they will be begging to return to school.

Rangiroa has the white coral sands we expect to see if the South Pacific, beautiful beaches and spectacularly coloured water.

There was a small handicraft stall which had the loveliest hand painted pareus. They are made on the island and worth the extra you might pay for a pareu in Papeete.