A “Tropical Aquarium”.
This little neighboring atoll to Tikehau, 10 kms long by 5.5 kms wide has the extremely rare distinction of not having a reef pass. This means that uplifting and subsidence has transformed the lagoon into a series of closed shallow basins. This atoll also has an immense underground seam of phosphate that has been left unmined, due to concern for the preservation of the environment.
The main village of Pahua is split in two by a very narrow pass which is connected by a little bridge. The local residents live very simply here on lagoon fishing in the many fish parks and are still proud of their legends and their cultural past.
We highly recommend that all should visit “Mataiva’s navel“, a rocky islet in the middle of the lagoon. Not far from this unusual spot, the visitor can call in at the Isle of Birds to see the crested terns and the red-footed gannets and later, on another motu, discover the archeological site of Papiro “marae” built of flat raised blocks of coral.
The legend of the turtle rock is no less impressive; the turtle being a sacred animal that was venerated in ancient times.