Lost in the vastness of the South Pacific, Manihi is a world away from everyday time and care. Your Manihi vacation is a castaway’s dream come true.
Seen from the air, Manihi presents a brilliant palette of clear blue water, lush green coconut palms, and a fringe of white and pink beaches. Though not as deep as Rangiroa’s lagoon, Manihi’s teems with tropical fish, making it a prime scuba diving site. Tairapa Pass, the unique natural passage into the lagoon, has a strong enough current to make “riding the whip” snorkeling trips an exhilarating and popular experience for visitors.
Manihi is known for its black pearl. This is “farm country” South Pacific style. The development of the commercial black pearl industry began on Manihi in the late 1960s. Instead of crops, over 60 farms here produce the world’s most sought after gem: pearls. Manihi’s lagoon waters are among the most perfect on earth for cultivating pearls (po’e rava) because of the temperature, density, salinity, light, and overall climate.
Although many have since ceased operation, it is still possible to see how pearls are grown at the farms that sit atop the many atolls. The 60,000 or so oysters of Manihi’s lagoon far outnumber the island’s human populace.
Aside from the lagoon and the pearl farms, visitors to Manihi can enjoy exploring the main village of Turipaoa. There are few cars here, so walking around the town square and along the coral paths is as peaceful and romantic as the lagoon itself.
Turipaoa is a modest, sun-baked village and home to many of Manihi’s 1,200 inhabitants. The colorful limestone and clapboard homes are shaded by breadfruit trees and ornamented with frangipani, hibiscus and bougainvillea. Some residents live on the remaining pearl farms built on struts beside the lagoon. The village boasts one main concrete dock, a flagpole and a square where older residents gossip under the shade of a huge palm just as in postcards from a bygone era.