Tranquility Guaranteed

Getting away at Pearl Resorts on Manihi and Tikehau

By: Jonathan Siskin

Ever since peripatetic Captain Cook first set eyes on Polynesia, the mystique and romance of these idyllic South Pacific isles have beckoned travelers with their irresistible allure. While Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea are familiar to 21st-century jetsetters seeking to satisfy their wanderlust desires, other equally exotic islands, such as Manihi and Tikehau are unfamiliar to most international travelers. As a result, they remain uncrowded, unsullied escapist havens with rates 30 to 50 percent lower than their better known sister isles. Both islands are part of the Tuamotus, a Polynesian archipelago consisting of 76 low-lying islands scattered across more than 12,000 square miles of ocean.

Clients who spend time on Manihi or Tikehau can partake of the pleasures of profound privacy and quintessential quietude. Guests literally have an entire island to themselves as the Pearl Resort is the only resort property on either island. There are also very few automobiles on these remote isles as the main modes of transportation are bicycle and motorboat, adding to the overall sense of being far removed from the “real world.”

Super Scuba and Black Pearls

The color of the ocean is breathtaking throughout the Tuamotus with crystal-clear lagoons glistening in shades of turquoise, lapis and aquamarine.

Lagoons are inhabited by scores of tropical fish, and scuba diving and snorkeling are two favorite pastimes. Divers will encounter magnificent coral formations, as well as creatures ranging from colorful angel and parrot fish to manta rays, barracudas and hammerhead sharks.

Tikehau stands out for its exceptional diving Jacques Cousteau noted that the Tikehau lagoon contains the highest concentration of tropical fish anywhere in the Tuamotus. Guests can also go kayaking, participate in deep-sea fishing excursions, hop a boat to an all-day picnic on a secluded islet or join a sunset cruise.

Manihi sits on the edge of a large lagoon with conditions especially favorable to the cultivation of black pearls. Also known as “black jewels,” these highly sought after gems are renowned worldwide for their distinctive coloration. Guests can opt for an escorted tour to one of 60 pearl farms on the lagoon to observe the intricate techniques used in cultivating mother-of-pearl.


Accommodations at both Pearl Resorts consist of bungalows: There are 19 overwater bungalows and 22 beach bungalows at Manihi, while Tikehau offers 16 overwater and 14 beach bungalows. Overwater bungalows are constructed on pilings suspended above the lagoon, and beach bungalows are steps away from the pristine white-sand beach.

Amenities include a sundeck, air conditioner, ceiling fans, TV, mini-bar and hairdryer. All overwater bungalows feature a unique glass-bottom table that provides an unobstructed view of the ocean below.

Other resorts in include Pearl Resorts on Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, Le Tahaa, Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva.

“Eighty percent of our guests come from the West Coast, and the strongest demand for space at our most popular resorts (Bora Bora and Moorea) is May through October,” said Emily Biotteau of Pearl Resorts.

Biotteau recommends reserving space six to nine months in advance to be sure to get one’s preferred dates.


Air Tahiti Nui offers 16 weekly nonstop flights to Tahiti’s capital, Papeete, on Airbus A340-300 from two U.S. gateways. There are 13 flights from LAX (8½ hours) and three from New York City/JFK (12½ hours). Interisland flights from Papeete to Manihi take 75 minutes, while Papeete to Tikehau takes 55 minutes.

Air Tahiti Nui also offers packages that include airfare and accommodations at Pearl Resorts on several different islands.