From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
NASA picture of Fakarava Atoll
Fakarava is located in French Polynesia
Location in French Polynesia
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates16°18′S 145°38′W / 16.300°S 145.633°W / -16.300; -145.633Coordinates: 16°18′S 145°38′W / 16.300°S 145.633°W / -16.300; -145.633
Area1,112 km2 (429 sq mi)  (lagoon)
24.1 km2 (9 sq mi) (above water)
Length60 km (37 mi)
Width21 km (13 mi)
Overseas collectivityFrench Polynesia
Administrative subdivisionTuamotus
Largest settlementRotoava
Population837[1] (2016)
Pop. density35/km2 (91/sq mi)

Fakarava, Havaiki-te-araro, Havai'i or Farea[2] is an atoll in the west of the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. It is the second largest of the Tuamotu atolls. The nearest land is Toau Atoll, which lies 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) to the northwest.

The atoll is roughly rectangular and its length is 60 kilometres (37 miles) and its width 21 kilometres (13 miles). Fakarava has a wide and deep lagoon with a surface of 1,112 square kilometres (429 square miles) and two passes. The main pass to enter the lagoon, located in its north-western end, is known as Passe Garuae and it is the largest pass in French Polynesia; the southern pass is called Tumakohua. It has a land area of 24.1 square kilometres (9 square miles). Fakarava has 837 inhabitants; the main village is called Rotoava.


The Pōmare Dynasty originated here before ruling the island of Tahiti.[citation needed] The first recorded European to arrive at Fakarava Atoll was Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen on July 17, 1820, on ships Vostok and Mirni. He named the atoll "Wittgenstein".[citation needed]

Fakarava's inhabitants were evangelized by French Picpus priest Honoré Laval in 1849. The church at Rotoava was dedicated in 1850.[citation needed] Fakarava is being classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.[citation needed]


Like all the other islands in the archipelago, Fakarava has some of the most pristine and undisturbed coral reef ecosystems in the world. The south pass of Fakarava has been protected since 2008 and is now home to the highest concentration of Grey reef sharks in the world with an estimated 700 sharks comprising the single school that inhabits the area. This is also one of the only reefs where sharks are fully protected and can be found in anything like their historical numbers.


  1. ^ "Population". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  2. ^ Young, J.L. (1899). "Names of the Paumotu Islands, with the old names so far as they are known". Journal of the Polynesian Society. 8 (4): 264–268. Retrieved 7 January 2015.

In literature[edit]

James Norman Hall describes his visit to Fakarava, and the prior visit of Captain Bligh to the atoll, in "The Tale of a Shipwreck," published 1934.

External links[edit]